Monday, 11 February 2008

New feature on Roy and Stella Corlett (and how they helped me)

I hope that you like the latest feature on the site on Roy and Stella Corlett.

I must admit that, as usual, I have been in danger this year of biting off more than I can chew with the site. Although I have created a bit more time for my passion of athletics in the past 6 months, by changing my working environment and being free from my summer role of cleaning our holiday cottage each Saturday, that time has been used several times over with the YouTube videos and many other things that I have been doing on the site - and of course writing this blog.

The old YouTube videos are definitely a "one off" - or least part of a "two-off" if I can recover some of the films from the early 80s which are not currently in my possession. At least this exercise brings more immediate enjoyment to those that watch the videos rather than the much more tedious task I undertook a few years ago when I compiled the statistics which formed the main content of my websites in the early years. I typed all of the names from the Parish Walk from newspaper cuttings and notes of my visits to the museum for the majority of the years, in addition to similar exercises for the Northern 10 miles (still not finished), the Peel to Douglas, the Syd Quirk half marathon and the Manx Harriers open.

So as I was saying, the features page has not been changed frequently and I am only up to number three. Please don't feel offended if you are not included or if someone you know isn't - they are not selected from a ranking list but intended to be interesting to me as well as you. There may well be someone else equally interesting but they may appear another year. Apart from anything else, I want to enjoy compiling the website content and so I will decide which projects I work on.

It was as I was worrying about how I would find the time to update the PW site in the middle of the night last week that I thought that I could write something about Roy and Stella Corlett.

I'm so glad I did.

I arranged to meet them yesterday and when I called at their house in Inner Circle, Douglas, it was the first time that I had been there for more than 20 years even though they had been great friends of mine.

As the feature mentions, Roy had to drop out of athletics competiton due to injury and he dropped out of the administrative side over the direction some of us took his club, Boundary Harriers. He did not support the building of clubhouse in Douglas or the merger of Boundary Harriers with Manx AC. I most passionately did.

But I will forever be grateful for the support that Roy gave me towards the latter stages of my race walking career. I had always been (still am?) pretty stubborn about doing things in my own way and although I had benefitted greatly from the advice offered from Graham Young and Allan Callow, I had never had anyone who I discussed every training session with and planned every race with. Roy took on this role in 1983.

Unfortunately, the punishment I gave my body through the winter of 1982 (I set myself the target of trying to reach the 1984 Olympics) on top of what I had done for the previous 3 years brought about my demise and 1983 was not my most successful year. I also suffered in the early part of the year from a recurring virus (again it was probably my body saying "enough is enough") and by November 1983 I had retired.

In April I failed to finish the York 50km - the race I had planned (for the umpeenth time) to go under 4.10 and failed. The only real success I can remember was, having foresaken my beloved Bradford 50km for the Leicester Mercury 20 miles I won the 50th edition and added my name to the list of winners which included Olympic champions.

But with no time recorded for 50km, if I was going to make the British team for the World Cup, never mind the Olympics the following year, I had to win the National 50km in July at Enfield as three out of four places had already been taken.

Roy and Stella went with me for this "win or bust" race.

I've never been very good in the heat and there was a heatwave. I walked with one of my heros from a few years earlier, Roger Mills in the early stages (Roger used to always win the AAA title when it was the only race walking to appear on TV) and Amos Seddon, who I still meet up with each year on the Bournes Sports stand at the London Marathon exhibition.

Trying to maintain a decent pace, I then pushed on by myself but inevitably "hit the wall". Barry Graham was to win the race and the most experienced 50km walker of all times, Bob Dobson, took second. If I remember correctly, I finished third well over 4.30. It was win or bust. There was no win and on this occasion it was the failure and not the time I remember. I never walked another 50km.

I regret not walking another 50km but I regret not having the time to spend with old friends like Roy and Stella even more.

Friday on the Steam Packet with Roy.

Early stages at Enfield with Roger Mills and Amos Seddon.

The wheels are off but Roy keeps me going.

My impression of Olive Loughnane (see the YouTube videos if you don't understand that one!).


Anonymous said...

Perhaps it's Olive that's copying you, Murray.


Anonymous said...

No one can say that you didn't straighten your leg, looking at that photo