Running and Life – Guy

running and life

Huw catches up with Guy who’s love of running stretches back to the Queen’s Coronation in 1953.

Guy Whitmarsh

Age: 78

How did you first get into running?

It was way back when I was living near Mansfield. I was 8 or 9 and used to race around the block on country lanes with two brothers that lived down the road. We would time each other. The brothers had a watch; I think they must have borrowed it from their dad. They were definitely better off than us because we went to their house to watch the Queen’s Coronation!

I went to Bristol to study French and used to run for the University team. Most of our runs were in the South West although we did embark on a rather mad relay race from Bristol to Tipperary in Ireland, and back! It was in March and I remember the radiator freezing when we stopped for a break in Snowdonia on the way to Holyhead for the ferry.

After I left Bristol I went to The Ivory Coast as a volunteer with The United Nations Association for a year. Rather bizarrely, while I was there, I did a trial for The Olympics to run middle distance. I didn’t make the grade unfortunately! That was in 1966.

I came back to the UK and trained as a teacher in Bath. My first teaching job was in Chelmsford. Later we moved when I got a job at Wigmore. I used to run home from Wigmore to Ashford Carbonell where we lived at the time. It was about 7 miles. There wasn’t much around in the way of running clubs or races at that time. I used to enter the few races there were. One of them was the Shropshire 6 Peaks. It was about 37 miles across Titterstone (Clee) Hill, Brown Clee, Caradoc, Long Mynd, Stiperstones and Corndon. In 1977 I set a new course record in 6 hours and 8 minutes. It stood for a long time. I’m not sure if anyone has done it faster. The early records have been lost unfortunately.

I ran The Offa’s Dyke a couple of times and met Peter Faulkner who said that he was thinking about starting up a running club. I think I joined in 1983 or 84.

What’s a typical running week for you?

I usually run twice a week. I’ll go up onto Bircher Common and do some hill reps. I rarely just go for a jog. I like a run to have a purpose. If I’m feeling strong I’ll run over to High Vinnalls and back or on to the Black Pool car park and back. I go to Ludlow Parkrun whenever I can.

What’s your most memorable run?

It was a Mountain Run in The Czech Republic in May 2019. It was only 5 miles but with about 650 metres of climb. They had to clear snow off the tracks on the high paths for the runners. I crossed the line not realising I had won my age group (M 75+).

What’s in the diary?

Offa’s Dyke – 11 June

Magic Roundabout – 19 June

Any injuries you’ve struggled with?

I’ve had some problems with my back and hip recently. It’s stopped me from running regularly. Also, I like to stay on soft ground if I can. It’s kinder to my left foot where I’ve got some arthritis.

What makes Croft Special?

It has to be the friendliness and that we welcome everyone. It’s not an elitist club. Also, because all abilities train together it’s easy to mix and talk to everyone. That doesn’t happen when you split groups up by speed.

What do you most love about running?

I think it’s just the freedom to get out into the woods. I often feel I’m running along tracks that no one has been down for ages. I also love to run in the snow – although I have been caught out a few times when it’s been very deep!

Aside from running, what else do you love doing?

We’ve got 10 grand children so family is definitely the main thing for us. We travel to France a lot and get over there at least once a year.

Who do you live with?

With my wife Judy. We’ve been married 55 years this year.

Why has Croft survived and thrived for 40 years?

I think one of the most important factors has been the increase in the number of women joining the club. It started in the mid 2000’s. Women seem far better at encouraging their friends to come along so, as we attracted more female runners, the club started to grow.

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