Huw meets with Pete Faulkner and finds out about the formation and early history of Croft Ambrey Running Club.
How did you first get into running?
I went to Lucton school when I was 13. I was a bit of a podgy lad at the time to be honest. Cross Country was a compulsory sport at Lucton. I remember my first race against Leominster Grammar School – I came last!
It cost £2 a week to go to Lucton so, when I was a bit older, my dad bought me a bike, partly to save money on the bus that took me to and from school.
It was 8 miles to school and 8 miles home. I used to race the bus and that got me pretty fit. In March 1960 I won the Herefordshire Schools Cross Country. I was loving running by then.
I guess like a lot of people I didn’t keep up the running straight after leaving school. In the early 1970’s I was working and started to put on a bit of weight. I was working in Ludlow and decided to start again. It was slow going at first, just a few miles. Then I started running the 10 miles back from work every Wednesday evening.
The Start of Croft Ambrey Running Club
There was a running boom at the end of the 70’s and early 80’s. I remember going to The Offa’s Dyke Race in 1981 and seeing Tom Davies and his brother Brian there.
I was running a lot around the Kingsland area gradually getting fitter. Eventually my heart, lungs and legs allowed me to run the 5 miles to the top of Croft Ambrey. It was there that I had the idea of forming a running club. I asked Tom Davies and his brother Brian and Bryan Markham to join me.
In June 1982 we formed Croft Ambrey Running Club and that year I ran The Offa’s Dyke race under the Croft Ambrey Flag. Our colours then were green and blue. Green to represent the Ambrey and blue for the sky plus the Swallow of course.
Running off road was really my forte completing The Snowdon, White Peakes and Seven Sisters marathons plus the Classic Man v Horse v Mountain Bike
I was a pretty good runner although I hardly ever managed to beat Brian Davies. He was special. My PB for a marathon is 2hrs 56 minutes. My quickest time for The Offa’s Dyke was 1hr 43 minutes. When I was 42 I managed to just squeeze under 16 minutes for a 5k.
I’m 80 in August and can’t run now unfortunately. I managed to run The London Marathon in 4hrs 16 minutes when I was 72 but can barely manage a short jog now. I was really happy when I was given Life Membership as one of the founders. It made me feel a part of the club again. I’ll be at the Offa’s Dyke race to celebrate the 40th Anniversary.
What’s your most memorable run?
Probably because it was just so hard I would say it would be the London to Brighton run in 1984. It was 53 miles and my first ultra distance race. I was able to run marathons without ‘hitting the wall’ but this was different. From around half way I was ‘running with a bear on my back’. It took me 7 hours and 27 minutes. I had absolutely nothing left when I finished that race.
If I had to say what my favourite race was it would be The Offa’s Dyke. It’s challenging and the route is so varied. Hard climbs, stunning views and the most amazing run down from Hergest. If I could do it again I would.
What occupies your time now?
I’ve had a small business making Coracles (small Welsh one-person boats) for many years. I’ve had orders from all around the world. Ray Mears and the BBC came to talk to me and did some filming at my workshop a few years ago. I don’t make as many as I used to but it keeps me busy. I’m President of the Coracle Society and also a Yeoman Member of the worshipful company of basket makers.
Who do you live with?
With my wife Vivienne in Leintwardine. We moved here from Kingsland in 1985.