Huw chat’s with club legend Bryan Markham about his love of running and the early days of Croft Ambrey Running Club
How did you first get into running?
I used to run X/C at Lucton School as did Peter Faulkner but we didn’t really get into training until much later when Peter was into distance running.
I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do after I’d taken my A Levels. I think I probably just wanted to get away from Kingsland and the family garage business! I ended up going to London to work as a trainee furniture buyer for Harrods. I was in London for 4 years and did quite a bit of track running. The distance running didn’t really start until I returned home.
When I was in my late 30’s I started to run longer distances with Pete. It was just about challenging ourselves and seeing what we could do. There were hardly any races to enter as such. That started to change at the start of the 80’s when we formed Croft Ambrey Running Club and Tom, Brian and Peter ran the Offa’s Dyke Race.
The club was Peter’s inspiration. He came up with the name and the Swallow motif and the sky blue kit colour. Lord Croft was our first President.
What’s a typical running week for you?
I run most Wednesday morning with Tom. We usually run for between 5 and 7 miles. We go quite slowly. It’s a really important part of my week.
Most Saturdays I’ll be at Ludlow Parkrun. I’ve done 115 Parkruns so far.
Asides from the running I’ll cycle twice a week with Luctonians. Our rides are usually between 15 and 20 miles but quite often I ride on my own.
I started doing sprint distance triathlons 12 years ago and try to swim twice a week at Leominster Leisure Centre. I’ll do 24 lengths when I go. When it’s warm enough I use our own pool.
What’s a typical running week for you?
I run most Wednesday mornings with Tom. We usually run for between 5 and 7 miles. We go quite slowly. It’s a really important part of my week.
What’s your most memorable run?
The World Vets championships when they were held in Brisbane, Australia in 2001. We went out there out for my 60th Birthday. My cousin Alec lives just outside Brisbane so it was the perfect mix of family, sunshine and running.
I ran the Marathon and 10k Cross Country and Jackie ran the road 10K. it was a 6am start for the Marathon to avoid the heat of the day. I think I ran it in about 3.45. The great Ron Hill ran in the 10k X/C. (Jackie was amazing!)
What’s in the diary?
Magic Roundabout and the X/C league summer series together with club races although maybe not the Ron Skilton Half Marathon – it’s a bit far for me!
Leinthal Starkes – 5 miles
Hereford Triathlon – Leominster, 10th July
Ludlow Triathlon – 25th September
Any injuries you’ve struggled with?
I’ve had the usual running injuries like plantar fasciitis and calf sprains. Also an Achilles injury which stopped me running for quite a while. I have to say though that, since I started doing triathlons, I’ve had far fewer injuries. I think it’s because you’re exercising the body in lots of different ways by swimming, cycling and running.
What makes Croft Special?
I couldn’t imagine being without Croft; it’s a part of my DNA. I’ve met some wonderful characters and made great friends through the club. Because I was one of the founding members I feel a sense of responsibility but also immense pride when I’m at a race and there’s a mass of sky blue vests. Croft really is a very special club.
What do you most love about running?
What’s not to love? If I can run I’m alive. I’m fortunate to enjoy good health and running is a really simple way to stay fit. A big constant for me has been training and racing with Tom. We’ve helped each other through some tough times.
Aside from running, what else do you love doing?
Markhams Garage Ltd. is the other big constant in my life. I still do a bit of work at the garage but all the big decisions are down to the younger directors, Lisa, Tavey and Simon. Family is really important too. I’ve got three children and 6 grandchildren living in Kingsland. Nick, our other son, lives in Australia with his wife Tracy and two children
Who do you live with?
With my lovely wife Jackie.
Have you any pets?
Our family drop dogs off with us every day when they’re working during the week. We sometimes end up with 6 dogs at home most days. We’ve also got two Ponies.
Why has Croft survived and thrived for 40 years?
Croft has always been fortunate in having a really strong core of administrators. Like most clubs you need people who are prepared to volunteer their time to make things happen. You can always go back to the basics but it thrives when there is a strong team. Just like the present committee!