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Me!Me!Me! Footprint of a Runner-Les Thurston

3 years 2 months ago #2872 by Jan Forrester
Les Thurston age 67 married to Joan. Father to Joanna and Stuart. Granddad to Jacob, Poppy, Robbie and Megan. Retired at 53.
Used to work as IT Systems Analyst

What got you interested in running in the first place? Did a bit at secondary school and made the house team for the senior mile on sports day, finishing mid-field. Was a Sunday footballer in my 30s and used to run as a means of getting fit for the football season. Got more interested in running after the first London Marathon in l981 and started to enjoy running more than football. My first race was in October l981 – the Lakes Marathon in 4 hours 12 mins; Cockermouth to Keswick and back on an undulating course, I only walked on the last hill at 22 miles !
I joined Bishops Stortford Running Club in 1986. They presented me with honorary life membership when we moved to Derbyshire last year.

You are from the south, when and why did you move to live in Cromford? We moved from Essex to Cromford in 2016 to be nearer family. My daughter lives in Matlock. My son lives in Cornwall. I love the hills, so Derbyshire won over Cornwall, but we visit Cornwall often.
We moved to Cumbria in my 30s because of a love for the hills but because of work moved back to Essex in 1983, then Cromford. I joined MAC in March 2016.

Stiff drink or herbal tea? I am a member of CAMRA, so must be a pint of bitter.

One meal you could eat forever? I particularly enjoy lamb shanks and for puds lemon curd tart or bread pudding with lots of custard

Some stats – PBs Track mile 5-44 (Enfield 1986) Road : 5 miles, 32-55 (Hatfield Heath 1991) 10k, 40-53 (Hatfield Broad Oak 1987) 10 miles, 1-07-18 (North Weald 1987) half marathon, 1-32-02 (Cambridge 1993) 15 miles, 1-46-43 (Wickford 1988) 20 miles, 2-28-51 (Chelmsford 1997) marathon, 3-17-09 (London 1994)

Tips for training? As I do not swim or cycle, variety in runs works for me. Distance, terrain, pace and also to train in all weathers – don’t stay indoors if it’s too hot, too cold, too wet or too windy. I prefer fell races but I suppose I should attend the Club Monday night sessions to try to improve my speed.

Other interests? Mountaineering – walking and climbing. Did a trek to Everest Base Camp in 2010 and climbed Kala Pattar, a 5,644m mountain near Everest. Best rock climb was Devils Slide on Lundy.
I’ve done all the ‘Wainwrights’ – 214 fells in the Lake District.
I also play the Kazoo, a musical instrument that adds a “buzzing” timbral quality to the player’s voice, a bit like the sound of comb and paper. I also enjoy watching cricket but I refuse to pay the extortionate Sky subscriptions.

If you had the authority to ban one thing, what would it be? Smoking in all its forms altogether.

If you could be anyone else for a day, who would it be and why? Louis Armstrong, Jazz trumpeter. I particularly admire his music from the 1920s and I would love to play a ‘proper’ musical instrument.

What do you think has been the best invention of the last 100 years and why? It should be the Internet, but it has been greatly abused and misused. Organ transplants have improved the lives of millions of people.
Greatest invention ever – the wheel.

What has been your most rewarding running challenge? The toughest was the Welsh 1,000m Peaks – 22 miles across Snowdonia which I have done twice. I also got a lot of satisfaction from my PB at the London Marathon in 1994 – 3 hours 17 minutes, as everything came together so well on the day.
Did the World Masters Hill Running Championship at Keswick in 2005 (sounds impressive, but as it was in the UK it was open to all – no qualifying time required !).

Scary activity moments? Have had a few mountaineering epics. Did Crib Goch ridge on Snowdon one winter, finished in the dark and had a hairy descent by torchlight down steep snow. Fell 30 feet when soloing in Scotland and had an overnight stay in Inverness hospital ! I now try to follow Don Whillans philosophy – “the mountain will still be there tomorrow, the trick is to make sure that you are”

What is your guilty pleasure? Steam railways. I was a trainspotter in the 1950s and 60s, like many lads of my age. My family bought me a driver experience day on the footplate of a Welsh steam railway as a 60th birthday present.

Who has been your biggest sporting influence/inspiration? Chris Brasher CBE, athlete, sports journalist, Olympic medallist and co-founder of the London Marathon. I used to enjoy reading his piece in The Observer every Sunday.
Ray Murdoch, who I met when I joined Bishops Stortford RC, has been my closest running friend. He introduced me to mountain running and we teamed up for the Saunders Lakeland Marathon – a two day event which we did 18 times before his knees gave out; we had so many laughs together and enjoyed the spirit of the hills.

Favourite TV? Don’t watch a lot of TV but I used to really enjoy the Radio programme ‘The Goon Show’ with Spike Milligan and Co., first broadcast in the 1950s.
Film? All the President’s Men – about Richard Nixon and the Watergate scandal, starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman. A story of political corruption – very topical now.

Favourite book? I don’t read any fiction but have a collection of about 400 mountaineering books. Favourite is ‘One Mans Mountains’ by Tom Patey

Technology in running has changed dramatically, do you use any running aids? No. I just have a watch which gives me split times. Don’t bother with Garmin or satnav, I learned to navigate with paper maps and the battery doesn’t go flat in those. I did try to use a gel during the Dagenham Half Marathon, after a friend encouraged me, but it split and the gel went all down my vest so never bothered again

Advice for youngsters? Enjoy it. Do not push too soon to improve.

Is there a race you haven’t done, but really want to? One of the Lake District classic long fell races, maybe Wasdale or Borrowdale, but I might struggle to make the checkpoint cut-off times.

Do you have any ideas which Matlock AC could incorporate to improve the club? Keep coming up with fresh ideas. I thought ‘Race the Train’ was great. There might be interest in a multi-day event, a kind of Tour Of Matlock. What about age categories in the Senior GP (as for the juniors) – gives the oldies something to go for ! Also as we have nearly 100 senior members, there is a pretty poor showing of about 10 on a Thursday, so need to encourage more people, especially ladies. Maybe a social pub stop after would be good. We have a strong Junior Section which is great as they are the future of running.


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