Monday, 16 November 2015

60 runs aged 60 at 60 venues! 'Project Sydney' is all set to go

* Sydney Wooderson
RECENTLY I heard of a fellow writer called Dan Wilson, usually a sensible sort of chap, who suddenly announced on his 37th birthday he was setting off on a quest to witness live performances of all 37 of Shakespeare's plays during his year aged 37.

Dan’s quirky little challenge reminded me I had my own landmark birthday coming up this month (it's my 60th, since you ask) - and perhaps I really ought to acknowledge it by doing something similarly daft.

Thus the idea of ‘Project Sydney’ was born here at the desk of your Clapped-Out Runner.
The news was greeted with a sigh from my long-suffering spouse, but I have assured her this ‘birthday challenge’ is no frivolous waste of time and energy, for the main thrust of Project Sydney is actually work related. It will contribute in a pretty significant way to the research and writing of a book that was already being planned anyway. That’s the case for the defence, m’lud!

The said book will be the sixth in my series on champion runners of yesteryear. It will focus on the life and career of one Sydney Wooderson (see picture), a small, shy office worker in NHS glasses who became an unlikely national hero either side of World War 2. The papers called him ‘The Mighty Atom’ and his fame spread well beyond the limits of the sporting world. He became a world-class miler and cross-country runner but these days he is all but forgotten.

In his war-interrupted career, Sydney ran approximately 260 races at less than 100 different venues. The vast majority of these were in the south-east of England. For the purposes of the book I’ll be needing plenty of data and background colour about these races.
And that’s where the big birthday challenge comes in:

To mark my year as a 60-year-old, I’ll be aiming to seek out 60 of the venues where Sydney raced and then follow in his footsteps by running all or part of the courses at which he competed. A few months ago I achieved a long-standing previous challenge (to clock up 1,000 races), so this new quest is just what my ageing and creaky limbs needs as winter heads our way!
* Project Sydney on the drawing board . . . 
 or on the pinboard, actually
Incidentally I’ve decided that wearing baggy shorts, plimsolls and pebbled rimmed glasses on these runs – just like Sydney would have - is probably a step too far. Mind you, if anyone out there happens to be able and willing to loan me one of Sydney’s original Blackheath Harriers running vests, I’d probably make an exception for that!

Many of the race venues graced by Sydney between 1929 and 1951 won’t be easy to locate, of course. Some of the cinder running tracks will have been built on, and some of the cross-country courses will be tricky to pin down. But that’s all part of the challenge.
Locating and running at 60 venues during the year commencing November 23 demands I complete an average of one Sydney run every six days or so. This should supplement my current meagre training mileage rather well. And the incentive to keep the thing going will be this BLOG, which will be updated here once a week, reporting on Project Sydney’s latest developments.

So there you have it. Project Sydney starts next week and involves a book, a blog and a birthday challenge.
If it goes well, there’ll be a double benefit  . . . . it will help keep my mileage and fitness levels up while doing the research, and, secondly, it might generate some pre-publication interest to help produce a few extra sales when the book  comes out!

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Violet and Paula - England's gift to the marathon world!

THE two greatest female marathon icons of all time are both English. Not a lot of people know that!

Everybody acknowledges world record holder Paula Radcliffe’s place at the top of the pile, of course, but very few people have heard of the feisty South London woman who I believe is right up there alongside her.

Between the two world wars, Violet Piercy (pictured) became the very first woman to run a marathon – a feat not repeated by anyone of her sex for almost 40 years!  

Over the years the details of Violet’s remarkable story remained sketchy and vague, so it was welcome news when a group of distinguished athletics historians of my acquaintance recently put their heads together to research her life and times. The facts that emerged from their efforts were even more strange and fascinating than expected.

It seems Violet had a number of natural talents ahead of her time, one of which was a gift for public relations. Over a period of around 12 years she gained much publicity for her various runs and became well known across the land and beyond. She was widely regarded as an eccentric and feisty character, who seems to have spent much of her time pursuing court action against people who upset her.

Women’s athletics had first been recognised and regulated in the UK in 1920, but the rulebook deemed distance running was unsuitable and possibly even dangerous for females. It was thought the strain would adversely affect child-bearing ability, so the maximum distance for a women’s race was set at 1,000 metres.
This was all tosh and piffle according to Violet. Aged 31 she boldly marched down to the London Olympiades club and signed up as a member - although still had to do her training alone. To demonstrate to the world that women could be good at sport and endurance events, she decided to run a solo marathon along the Windsor to London route.
To the amazement of onlookers, she set off at 4.20pm on Saturday 2nd October 1926 from near Windsor Castle. She made good steady progress early on, reaching Hounslow well before 6. After this suburban traffic slowed her down and she finally finished outside Battersea Town Hall around 8pm. Her time was recorded at 3 hrs 40 mins.

She told reporters: “I did it because I wanted to show the Americans what we can do and to prove Englishwomen are some good after all!”  Presumably this was a reference to the recent efforts of Americans Gertrude Ederle and Amelia Corson, who had stunned the people of Britain and France by successfully swimming the Channel.

Although cross-Channel swimming became popular in subsequent years, women’s distance running certainly didn’t. And the reaction to Violet’s great feat was mixed, to say the least. The Westminster Gazette wrote: “It must be hoped that no other girl will be so foolish as to imitate her.” All Sports Weekly were equally firm: “The marathon should be cut out by the women.”

Violet scoffed at all this and appeared on BBC radio telling listeners that doing athletics would help produce a race of women “capable of and suited to motherhood” because the sport was based on rhythm, co-ordinated movement and clean living.

Over the next few years she completed a series of remarkable runs, including three more marathons, but the 1939-45 War seems to have ended this and she quickly sank into obscurity. It’s now been confirmed she lived in the Streatham area in the 1940s and 1950s, but after that the trail went cold.

Thirty-seven years after Violet’s pioneering first marathon, a second woman (American Merry Lepper) completed 26 miles, and shortly afterwards Dale Greig was the second British woman to take the plunge and chalked up a time of 3:27:45. It is sad to think both these women had probably never heard of Violet Piercy. And nobody in the media was able (or interested enough) to track down Violet to ask her about Greig and Lepper following in her footsteps at long last.

If that was sad, the story has an even sadder ending. The newly-gathered evidence suggests that an elderly woman of no fixed address who died in a London hospital in April 1972 was the once-famous Violet Piercy. She had suffered a brain haemorrhage, hypertension and chronic kidney-related infection. The death certificate mistakenly gave her surname as Pearson, which ruled out any chance of her being immediately recognised as the former celebrity runner.

Violet languished in obscurity for something like 70 years but recent developments have changed all that  . . . . there’s now a clip of her running on-line at the British Pathe archive, she has an entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and the well-known novelist Peter Lovesey has written at length about her in Track Stats magazine.
Violet Piercy, marathon icon - at long last – we salute you!   

* Rob Hadgraft's books on running legends of yesteryear are available via Amazon in paperback or e-book via the link . See also

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

1,000th race almost in the bag!

Where it all started . . . .
AND lo, the milestone looms large at the side of my well-trodden road. One thousand races! 
Hard to believe my very first race was almost 34 years ago. This weekend in Suffolk I’m due to hit four figures - 12,300 days and 999 races later.

It’s appropriate I should make appearance number 1,000 at Sunday’s Ipswich JAFFA Ekiden Relays, because I was based in Suffolk all those years ago when this recreational habit first took its firm grip on legs, lungs and sinew.

The legacy of 1,000 races is what physios call ‘wear-and-tear damage’ to my right knee, but on the positive side there's been an amazing range of adventures and experiences. Visits to town, cities and country paths I would never have otherwise trod, and encounters with countless characters I’d never have otherwise met.

It all began in the summer of 1981 when Norman Harris’ articles in the Sunday Times raised the idea of a crack at that paper’s National Fun Run in Hyde Park, London. A huge UK running boom was taking root at the time, and I was one of those sucked in. Aged 25, nearly married, and playing football for pub teams, but I evidently had some energy to spare.

The park was packed, the sun reflected brightly off the bald pate of race starter Duncan Goodhew and things went pretty well. I even had an extra spring in the step because Luton Town beat local rivals Watford 4-1 the previous day! As a complete novice I was quite happy to have run six-minute-miles and fancied more of this action. 

In hindsight it’s clear I was well and truly hooked that day. Five days later, an old desk diary reveals, I ran ten miles down the A12 from Colchester to Tiptree. I can’t recall what prompted that odd idea, but it was certainly the type of unwise novice enthusiasm that nowadays would make me wince!

A few weeks later I joined colleagues from the East Anglian Daily Times to complete a 26-mile jaunt from Felixstowe to Raydon, to raise money for a young local woman widowed after an accident. Our combined running experience was very nearly nil, I seem to recall – an ill-prepared, incorrectly-dressed rabble (particularly in the footwear department), but we made it.

The first Ipswich Marathon came along soon after that, and as sports editor of the Suffolk Mercury Series at the time, I felt obliged to give it a go. A vastly over-ambitious target of three hours was missed by about 20 minutes – but the seeds were sown and before long I decided to join the local experts at the Ipswich JAFFA club.

JAFFA had some impressive old ‘uns in their ranks, Frank Copping for example, inspirational figures who gave off the idea that here was a sport you could enjoy throughout life, not just in your youth. I remember interviewing Frank about his late-blossoming running career, marvelling at his energy and commitment at the grand old age of 63. Now, here I am, just four years younger than that. Good grief.

One thing I soon learned was that races far shorter than marathons were the best thing for me. Mind you, I ran half-a-dozen London Marathons, because once upon a time journalists could get automatic entry by merely promising to publicise the event. We all love a freebie don’t we?   

My 1,000 races since 1981 means I’ve averaged one race every 12 days over the period of 34 years. I know of several people nowadays who compete more often than that (especially now the weekly Parkrun phenomenon is with us). So maybe four-figure tallies are more common than one might think?I suspect many modern runners don’t even bother to keep count like I do. Running logs are perhaps a bit ‘old school’?  

* Rob Hadgraft’s published books are available in paperback and as e-books from Amazon.
 Use this link:

Thursday, 23 April 2015

The marathon winner nobody really cared about

* Joe McGhee - perfect judgement.

THE man who quietly taught the world exactly how to win a marathon in crippling heat has died this week aged 86.

Inexperienced runners nervously preparing for Sunday’s Virgin London Marathon would be well advised to take a leaf out of the book of modest Joe McGhee, who left us this week as probably the least celebrated British gold medallist of all time.

McGhee was the man who profited from the dramatic and spectacular collapse of Essex’s Jim Peters in the final stages of the 1954 Empire Games marathon in Vancouver. Even if you have little interest in sporting history, you must have seen footage of the little dark-haired chap in white veering and wobbling madly, collapsing on the track a dozen times, almost fatally dehydrated yet leaking alarmingly from just about every bodily orifice.   

It was a scene so dreadful that some male spectators threw up and women fainted. Up in the posh seats even the handsome young Duke of Edinburgh had to avert his eyes.

Jim Peters had run 26 miles at full throttle, despite the intense heat of the day, not taking water for fear of upsetting his stomach. Getting no information from the roadside he wouldn't ease up for fear of being caught. He was completely oblivious to the fact he was around 15 minutes ahead of second–placed Joe McGhee. If only he’d known. Time to take a shower, grab a beer and still win!

Just yards short of the finish-line he fell for the last time and was carted off to hospital, dramatically close to death’s door. Many minutes later Scotsman McGhee, unaware of all the fuss and running a perfectly-judged steady pace, cruised into the stadium to take gold in 2:39:36.

McGhee’s sensible judgement and precautionary measures even saved him enough energy to have a dance at the closing ceremony later that night! But Peters, a great champion who should have known better, was a broken man who never raced again. This world record holder and, in many eyes the greatest marathoner that ever lived, was done for. McGhee, a virtual unknown, had quietly taught the world the marathon can be a highly dangerous adversary and needed to be confronted with calmness and respect.

All the hoohah surrounding Peters’ convulsing body meant McGhee was virtually ignored. He returned to Scotland without fuss, became a linguistics professor in Aberdeen and lived a quiet life until his demise in old age this week.

Researching my biography of Jim Peters a few years ago, I found that the Essex runner, who died in 1999 in Southend, had enormous respect for McGhee and regretted that all the attention in 1954 was on him, and not on the deserving race winner. 

McGhee rarely spoke about his success, although did record his memories in a diary published in part in a Scottish newspaper in 1994. The story that McGhee had himself collapsed mid-race only to be urged up and onwards again by an elderly Scotswoman turned out not to be true. McGhee won simply because he ran a more pragmatic race than champion Peters and the other challengers.
One of the few people to fully appreciate his father’s triumph was son Joe junior. The pair often ran 12-mile training runs together in Aberdeen in more recent times, and he said: “My father was a modest man, he kept much to himself over the years and wasn’t much of a traveller.”

To read the full story of Jim Peters dramatic rise and fall, McGhee’s victory and many other marathon adventures of the era, my book ‘Plimsolls On, Eyeballs Out’, is currently available via Amazon (link:  ).

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Races filling up fast, but Shawn is creating his own!

* Shawn Leek (left) and friends . . . sporrans at the ready!

I’VE yet to hear any convincing reasons why it’s happening, but the world of the East Anglian citizen runner has been changing fast lately.
On the face of it, we appear to be experiencing another running boom. Races seem to be filling up to capacity long before the day of the actual event, 5k Parkruns in various towns are pulling in record-sized fields week after week, and clubs such as my own are reporting highest-ever membership levels.

This weekend, I am told, the Brentwood Half-marathon is full and not accepting entries. Likewise, the Stowmarket Half-marathon is up to capacity. The Woodbridge 10k entry list filled up within three-and-a-half-hours of opening, and the Sudbury 5-mile Fun Run stopped taking entries more than six weeks before race day!

To be a runner around here these days you need to be more than just fleet of foot and possessed of good stamina. Evidently you also need to be quick off the mark and well-organised when it comes to planning your calendar.
Over the years I’ve mostly preferred the flexibility of choosing my races quite late in the day – say a week or two in advance - but this is becoming increasingly difficult.

One way to avoid the rush is to steer clear of popular events and simply make your own fun! That’s exactly what Shawn Leek of Great Bentley Running Club is doing this spring.
Next month Shawn plans to run seven marathons in seven days, six of them ‘solo’ affairs, ending with the Virgin London Marathon on April 26. He hopes his strenuous week will raise a hefty five-figure sum for the St.Helena Hospice in Colchester.

Forty-year-old Shawn has done a few ultras in his time, but admits his project of attempting 182 miles in just one week looks suspiciously like he’s having a mid-life crisis.
He will start on Monday April 20 from the St.Helena Hospice itself and run a 26-mile route to Ipswich town centre. Next day he’s off to Bungay and this is followed by marathons in Cambridgeshire on the Wednesday, Bedfordshire on the Thursday and Bishop’s Stortford on the Saturday, before joining the 30,000 throng in London on the seventh day.

Engineer and family man Shawn has been a runner for 10 years but has never attempted anything quite like this before. He’s hoping local runners will volunteer to turn up during his first six jaunts to run alongside and help keep his spirits up and encourage him along the road for a while. If you fancy this, e-mail him now at
He’s been training hard in preparation, including a time of 2hrs 44mins at the tough Tarpley 20-miler near Bury St.Edmunds and on March 29 will run from his home to the start of the Colchester Half-marathon, do the race and then run home again.

He admits to struggling with pacing during all this training. He wants to run the seven marathons at 9:30 per mile pace, but that is far slower than his normal race pace. Consuming food and drink on the run has also been a problem, and he’s been experimenting with chewy energy bars, sweets, jam sandwiches and wholemeal rolls filled with banana and honey.
Those of us who know somebody cared for at the Colchester hospice wish him the best of luck for next month!

(* Rob Hadgraft’s published books on running and football available at: )

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Runner caught red-handed!

Heard the song about the man with the 'Red Right Hand'?

YOU know you’re getting old when you can’t even be trusted to go for a simple training run without falling over.

When you start stubbing your toe on the relatively flat Wivenhoe Trail, where stones only protrude upwards half-an-inch or so, you know it’s time you started picking your feet up when out perambulating.
Three times I hit the deck in spectacular fashion during the recent cross-country season, but that was on soft terrain. This latest coming together with Mother Earth was a harder and more bloody affair, I’m afraid.

But what was most interesting about it was the reaction of passers-by (luckily few in number in view of the high embarrassment factor).

One female runner, evidently an Essex University student of foreign extraction, sailed on past without a word, occasionally stopping to take pictures of the adjacent river view. She’d seen the whole thing but was not at all concerned, and not even fazed by the blood pumping out of my right hand.

Well, perhaps ‘pumping’ is a slight exaggeration, but it was certainly seeping fast. In Tony Hancock terms, it was probably a good arm-full.  
The next reaction was the polar opposite of the first. Further along the slow run home, two more young people hove into view, again speaking in foreign tongue, but this time rooted to the spot with horror. They couldn’t even bring themselves to step aside and let me pass without difficulty.

By this time I was running normally again, but holding my right arm high in the air - I’ve heard if you hold a bleeding wound above the level of your heart, gravity will help stem the flow. Trouble is, this body-shape makes it look as if you are deliberately displaying your injury for the world to see.
Aussie troubadour Nick Cave has a song about the man with the ‘Red Right Hand’, and it was this tune I hummed as I headed home. Perhaps it was no wonder my second batch of spectators looked so startled.

It was only this week that a number of my clubmates at Tiptree Road Runners returned from one of the UK’s most gruelling mass participation races, the 20-mile ‘Grizzly’ in Devon. Some were on their feet for more than five hours that day, yet for the most part seem to have coped without crashing to the ground and tearing flesh. Perhaps they were more focussed on their task than me on my relatively gentle sortie.  
Mind you, I should point out that some of them did finish the Grizzly in a state of intense emotional fragility. Shedding tears rather than blood was our Louise H, for example. Tears of relief and pride, I suspect, rather than tears of pain as she fell into the congratulatory arms of colleague John McV at the finish line.

Now that the cross-country season is over and the Grizzly’s been and gone, there should be far less mud to encounter in forthcoming fixtures. That sadly means fewer soft landings for the habitual tumblers like me . . . .

* Rob Hadgraft's books on running legends of yesteryear are on sale via this Amazon link:


Friday, 13 February 2015

Shrubb blossoms in Chelmsford!

ALF SHRUBB . . . so good they made him race against horses!
GOOD to see the running scene thriving in my local city of Chelmsford these days. On Saturday mornings a remarkable 400-plus get stuck into the weekly 5k Parkrun, numbers seemingly rising on a weekly basis. Next weekend the newly-established EAN 10k race takes place, there's a new city marathon, and the cross-country and trail scene are prospering too.

Chelmsford has a rich running history of course. Back in the day, not only did wee Sydney Wooderson smash the British mile record on a field beside Roxwell Road, but the legendary Alf Shrubb regularly collected records and trophies galore at the annual New Writtle Street athletics bash.
After I published a biography of Shrubb in 2004*, there was a sniff of interest from film-makers about the story. Nothing came of that, but now, nearly 11 years later, a second company has emerged wanting to make a documentary about the forgotten hero of Edwardian sport. Fact Not Fiction Films, based in Sussex, announced their Shrubb project a few days ago and I’m delighted to be assisting.
When researching Shrubb, I was fascinated to find his breakthrough victory, the race that made the nation sit up and take notice of him, came in 1900 here in Chelmsford. 
The annual Essex athletics and cycling championships at the New Writtle Street cricket ground was regarded at the time as the most prestigious meeting in the UK. Up for grabs was the huge new 50 guinea Atalanta Cup, which, along with a gold watch, went to the winner of the three-mile track race.
Shrubb was still very much a beginner in 1900, having only joined Horsham Blue Star club months earlier. He’d been ‘discovered’ while galloping along a country lane in boots chasing the local fire wagon!
He didn’t really have a clue about his chances in the big Chelmsford race, although somebody did tip him the wink that he’d be helped by the unexpected absence of Sid Robinson, Olympic medallist and English steeplechase champion.
Shrubb had never been to Essex before and was astonished as he made his way across Chelmsford on foot from the station. These locals certainly knew how to stage a day of sport. The station and streets were decorated with flags of all nations and bunting, the railway arch in New Street bedecked by a huge ‘welcome’ banner. Flowers and flags adorned the cricket ground and the grass track was lined with Venetian masts, supportings lines of flags. A ‘grand illuminated fairy fete’ was taking place in the Bishop of Colchester’s grounds over the road, plus a fireworks display and ‘Baden Baden’ concert. The Countess of Essex was there to present prizes. She arrived by train to be met by a four-in-hand carriage which processed through Chelmsford with crowds cheering and doffing their caps at this glamorous celebrity.
Spanish grandees Prince Leopold and Princess Marie de Croy-Solre were at the ground too, guests of a local businessman. The hullaballoo and atmosphere made Shrubb highly nervous, but he was desperate to do well having never before travelled this far from home to run.
Despite his butterflies and knocking knees, he was glad when the three-mile race finally got underway, taking off smartly and forging a substantial early lead. He cut such a fast early pace that a world record on grass looked possible. He steadied himself just past halfway, however, and won at a canter, breasting the tape in 15 mins 05.6 secs, his nearest opponent – Wellin of Essex Beagles – 150 yards adrift.
Being 1900, there were no female athletes in action, and at the prize-giving the Countess of Essex announced: “As on the occasion of the Olympian Games of old, what is called the superior sex is in force here today and we women are here to admire you, and look on and stimulate you for fresh exercises for other years. It is only at these gatherings at Chelmsford that we see sport of this kind – which beats all other kinds in the country.”
Little Shrubb stepped up to accept the huge Atalanta trophy, almost collapsing under its weight. He confessed later his first thought was how on earth he’d get home with such a massive vessel. Somehow he made it though, and on disembarking in Sussex, was greeted by a crowd of supporters who’d heard news of his great victory at Chelmsford. He was carried shoulder high like a returning hero, all the way to the pub which served as the Blue Star club’s HQ.  It proved to be a long and lively session!
*      To check out Rob Hadgraft’s books on running legends of yesteryear, use this link: or visit

Monday, 19 January 2015

Did this sort of thing really happen in our sport?

THE more you look at the picture above, the more shocking it seems.
Runner No. 261, the one they are attempting to kick off the road, is K.Switzer - a bona fide member of Syracuse Harriers. She's paid her entry fee, done her training, and was quietly running the marathon like all the rest of them.

So what exactly had runner K.Switzer done wrong? Well, she was a woman, that’s what! And I can personally vouch for that fact, for a while ago she visited my house in Essex and had a cup of coffee and a nice chat with us!
The picture was taken in April 1967, the event was the famous Boston Marathon, and the crazy-looking character attempting to wrestle Switzer off the road is Jock Semple, the Scottish race director. Jock was screaming “Get the hell out of my race!” determined not to have his event upstaged by a woman. In those days marathon running was seen as an ‘inappropriate’ activity for the female sex and if any women sneaked themselves into a race this was the sort of reaction it might produce.

Fortunately, Switzer’s boyfriend of the time, Tom Miller (in dark shorts), hurtled across the road moments after this picture was taken, and spectacularly barged Semple out of the way. Ms.Switzer continued in a state of shock, finished the race, and the world of marathon running was changed for ever.
Kathrine Switzer clocked a modest 4 hrs 20 mins for the 26.2 miles that day, but altered the course of sporting history. Within a few years women could freely and officially enter Boston, and other marathons, and no longer had to be wary of potential attack as they ran. Kathrine went on to fulfil her potential as a top runner (a PB of 2:51), and became a women’s sporting icon, and lots more besides. But what happened in the picture above is what first made her famous.

So what was she doing at the house of your Clapped-Out Runner in Essex, sitting in the conservatory and sipping my rather hesitant attempt at making a quality cup of coffee for a famous person?
Well it just so happens her partner is Roger Robinson, author and ex-international runner, and the couple were passing through my neck of the woods and took the opportunity to drop by and pick up a copy of my latest book, which Roger was kindly reviewing for a USA running magazine.

As the couple strolled into our house, I was momentarily tempted to hurtle towards Kathrine and bundle her into the flowerbeds, screaming “Get the hell off my garden path!” in a Scots accent - just for a laugh, you know, just to check her reactions after all these years. Of course that wouldn’t have been in the slightest bit funny, and I dismissed the thought quickly.
Kathrine must have told the tale of what happened mid-race at the 1967 Boston Marathon thousands of times, but she does it so well it bears repeating here:

“I was so surprised and frightened that I slightly wet my pants. I had never felt such embarrassment and fear. I’d never been manhandled before and never even spanked as a child, and the physical power and swiftness of the attack stunned me. I felt unable to flee, like I was rooted there, and indeed I was, since the man, this Jock guy, had me by the shirt. Then a flash of orange flew past, and hit Jock with a cross-body block. It was Big Tom in the orange sweatshirt.  There was a thud – whoomph! – and Jock was airborne. He landed on the roadside like a pile of wrinkled clothes. Now I felt terror. We’ve killed this guy - my God we’re all going to jail!”
Jock Semple didn’t die, 20-year-old Kathrine Switzer never went to jail, but the next day’s newspapers were full of pictures of her and life was never quite the same again.

(* Check out Rob Hadgraft's books on champion runners of yesteryear:  or visit