The Sherwood Hall Years 1985 – 1996

The move to Sherwood Hall indirectly achieved something for club spirit that had not been possible previously at the College where training nights had merely meant a run and an immediate return home. Now, since Sherwood Hall had a bar, people would congregate there for an hour afterwards to discuss achievements and aspirations and a much clearer feeling of club identity was generated. This coincided with the relaunch of a newsletter and the arrival of new members. One of these was Jean‑Pierre Grahn, a French triathlon specialist over for the year, and someone who thankfully did speak English! Another was Randall Tassell whose permanent stay with us was to result in our having a qualified coach to look after our younger athletes. But we were sorry to receive the resignation of Rob Hutton, a class marathon runner and aIso of Phil Cracknell who had ably dealt with the White Peak entries for some years.

With the change of H.Q. it was decided to accept Neil Forrest’s offer to stage the Club Championships on a new course starting from South Darley and incorporating three descents of Wensley Dale and three ascents of Will Shores (One Tree) Hill. Clive Russell also put on his tough 7 miler from Parwich taking in Longcliffe, the High Peak Trail and Minninglow on the way. In the Ramathon Howitt’s 2.56 was only good enough for 3rd Over 50 place, but Forrest also finished well inside 3 hours in spite of a suicidal first half run in a P.B. of 1.23.

The White Peak produced a runaway winner in Alasdair Keen of Derby, A 2hr 17 man on the road, his 2.32.59 time added weight to the theory of our race being over 10 minutes slower than normal courses. John Hurley came in a brilliant 2nd in 2.46.02. Rob Hutton in what must have been one of his last runs for us recorded 3.2.58 and Parris 3.10.00, only three weeks after his 2.35.00 run at London which had confirmed his standing as the fastest M.P. in the West(minster)! Another P.B. in the London had been Mackfall’s time of 2.45.00. At the A.G.M. Brian Howitt resigned as Chairman for personal reasons and his place was taken by Roy Mason, the National Secretary of the British Orienteering Federation, who, in the short time he had been in the club, had already achieved John Smedley’s sponsorship of the White Peak. He also used his contacts with them to organise the successful Lea and Holloway races in the Winter. On the road this was also Roy’s best season when he recorded P.B.s from the marathon to 10K, including 1.29.50 in the Chesterfield Half. A decision taken at the A.G.M. to affiliate to the N.Staffs. League was apparently not implemented in ’85 or subsequently.

1986 looked like being the year of the vets when we won the Derbyshire team title at Chesterfield on Jan. 4th. Neil Tatham took the individual Vets gold(7th overall and another County Senior vest) and John Armistead the bronze. Our women participants Ann Armistead and Tracey Bowmer also ran well on a diabolical course comprising deep mud and several waist deep river crossings put in by an obviously sadistic course designer.

As if the cross country specialists had not had enough, they made use of an affiliation anomaly which somehow allowed the club to compete in the Yorks. Championships as well at Graves Park Sheffield the same season.

In the White Peak Roland Gibbard of Charnwood was first home with Hurley third this year, but with an even faster time of 2.44.12. The club took the vets team award as frequently happened – Forrest/ Howitt/ William. The social side of the club was flourishing and a club dinner was held at the Strand restaurant on 31st Jan. when Brian Howitt was presented with a record token and elected a Life Member of the club. The same committee was re‑elected at the A.G.M. and a rationalisation of the club’s main interest was incorporated into the constitution : “the aim of the club shall be the encouragement of amateur running”.

It had become apparent that a significant group of members were now interested in the more serious fell races beyond the local Peak District series, including the two‑day mountain marathons and this was recognised by our affiliating to the Fell Running Association. On the road, Mackfall took us into the ultra distance dimension by running the London to Brighton double marathon in 7.46.00, a time which he would certainly have bettered had he not once again been running whilst suffering from a infection.

The 1987 A.G.M. saw major committee changes again with Neil Tatham elected Chairman and Don Hale Secretary. Chris Rosling, who had returned to the club after a short absence, became Club Captain. The White Peak was attracting large numbers of entrants including women athletes. This year saw Roger Edwards, of Leicester Coritanian take the title in a new record time of 2.31.02. Liz Evans of N.Derbys. set a new female record of 3.16.15. The M.A.C. team finished 2nd with fast times, by Hurley(2.40.57) and Mackf all (2.48. 06). The new chairman’s duties were not slowing him down either – Tatham achieved County selection again with 7th place overall in the Cross Country Championships as well as the Vet’s gold medal. In the Ashbourne Half he finished 2nd in 1.13. Rosling too clocked 1.15 in the Wirksworth Half. A new member, Tony Barrable, gave notice of how good he would prove to be with a time of 36.43 in the Flash “7”, quite close to the record. In the Chesterfield Half, Howitt broke the Vet 50 course record in 1.25.48. ‘Unfortunately so did Craven of Wolverhampton, 5 seconds faster and one place ahead! Contemptuous of such sprinters, John Armistead achieved a personal ambition by completing the Bob Graham Round (42 peaks and 27,000 feet of climbing) in 22hrs 57mins. well within the 24 hour limit. On the level of communications, an attempt was made to revive the club newsletter, last published some six years previously.

The usual pattern of individual performances took place in 1988, but we achieved one of our more notable team efforts when we fielded a full 8 runners in the National at Newark where Rosling was our first counter at 305th. Mick Moorhouse was.our new Club cross country champion and we received the reflected glory of Barrable’s selection for the British Rail team in the international cross country event in Belgium. Rosling gained two more County vests, one on the country at Leicester and another in the Inter‑Counties 20 mile road race.

The White Peak continued to prosper with Andrew Battye of Woodstock Ist in 2.42.06 and Betty Hall of Westerlands Ist woman in 3.18.46. In the London Marathon Kevin Vallance was accompanied by Ann Armistead and Dot Farrand. Throughout the ‘80s Dot was the club’s top woman road runner. Her wins and places at Vets and Open level are too numerous to mention, but a selection of her times speak for themselves : Bovril “10” – 64.45, Puma 10K – 38.36, London Marathon – 3.20.35, Half Ramathon – 1.27.40, times many men would envy!

Club spirit remained high in 1989 under Social Secretary Mick Mackfall, and another succesful dinner was enjoyed by a good number. The Club Championship again went to Creswell with the promising. Alan Tatham. taking the Junior title. On the team side cross country proved disastrous, with the club unrepresented in both the Northern and the National. Fortunately the situation was retrieved on the road with first team place in the Chesterfield “10” and perhaps our most prestigious team success to date – Ist place in the Otter High Peak Half, (Barrable/ Hurley/ Clamp/ Moorhouse). The magnanimous team members voted to donate their £100 cash prize to club funds! Tracey Bowmer too raised cash by her run in the London Marathon – £234 for Leukaemia Research. The club’s women members were running magnificently, and two others scored a notable victory when Ann Armistead and Helen Finlayson took the first Ladies’ team prize in the celebrated Karrimor Mountain Marathon in Cumbria.

The White Peak went to John Wilcockson of Mansfield with Cathy Gunner of Staffs Moorlands first woman,(2.38.20 and 3.25.01 respectively). M.A.C. won their customary Vets team prize. Prior to this marathon the club had been well represented in the London with the evergreen Russell getting under 3 hours.

At the A.G.M. a key decision vas taken : to redraft the constitution. It had only taken us 13 years to finally remedy our hasty adoption of a second‑hand one at our inception! Malcolm Taylor resigned as, Treasurer and was replaced by John Armistead. Gerry White became Secretary, Barry Mosley Fixtures Secretary and News Letter Editor and Tracey Erskine (nee Bowmer) women’s co-ordinator. It was another good year in the Dovedale Dash, particularly for the Juniors, with Eddie Thomas winning the U14 section in a record time 30 minutes. His coach, Randall Tassell, set a good example finishing 48th in the usual enormous field.

In 1990 the seniors had a very poor year on the country, both in the League and the Northern, but fortunately the Juniors made up for it in representative honours – Eddie Thomas gained his Derbys. vest, and Ian Forrest recorded an amazing 5th place when representing the County in the English Schools race. He looked set for a brilliant international future until a severe viral illness effectively put an end to his career, although we hope that one day he may be able to make a fresh start. Andrew Battye once again took the White Peak, some 3 minutes slower this time, with Mary Howarth of Steel City Striders gaining the women’s title. This was the last year that we were to enjoy the generous sponsorship of John Smedley, but they said goodbye in style, issuing each finisher with a quality T-shirt, specially designed and manufactured by themselves. We hope we did not offend them by not agreeing to let all competitors wear the garment during the race!

On the road the club took 2nd team prize in the Otter and there were good turnouts in the Chesterfield Half and the Hardwick “6”. In internal competition the cross country championships were moved to a real “old fashioned” course at Fritchley through the good offices of the Secretary and Stuart Allsop. Moorhouse won the club “10” and Barrable the Club Half Marathon. This latter race became known as “Mick’s Half”, being the brainchild of M. Mackfall. It was over two laps of a fairly flat course near Flash Dam and was suspected of being a fraction short in view of the number of P.B. times it produced. Mick had also instituted a series of New Year Mystery Runs, one of which entailed fighting off guard dogs at a traveller’s encampment on the moors which happened to be in the way. His best social event of the year was undoubtedly the pie and pea supper rumoured to have been subsidised by the previous year’s Otter prize money. The final friendly race of the year was a John Armistead promotion: a shortened version of the Black Rocks race on Boxing Day, starting from the High Peak Junction.

The only memorable business at the AGM this year was the key decision that all members should drink at the same establishment after training on Thursdays, since club solidarity was being threatened by the quality of the beer in the Sherwood bar as perceived by certain connoisseur members.

Organised participation in cross country events did not recover in 1991 and the club was not represented in the county championships, although Alan Tatum achieved a solo effort of 3rd place in the N. Mids. League U-15 race. Tatham incidentally was, and possibly still is, Junior record holder in the Mow Cop Killer Mile. The efforts of club coach Tassell also paid off in notable performances by Cairn Morrison Danny Warman, Esmond Tressider, Joby Osman and Andrew Cummins, but mainly to their respective schools in the various county events.

In our own championship Cresswell had his customary win, the mud being much to his liking. In the London we were well represented by Barrable, Allsop and Hale, and nearer home, Taylor won the Club Half after Moorhouse put in an extra off course mile when leading at the mid point of the race. Founder member Steve Pearson was seeing a resurgence after 15 years with a PB of 2:35 in the Milford 21 and 3:10 in the White Peak which was won this year by Roy Berry, with Mary Howarth still striding to another win in the women’s section.

What might be called recreational events flourished, with the Boxing Day one again proving popular, as well as the newly established 4 Inns run before Christmas. perhaps Rob Atkin and Karl Webster will not mind their epic feat earlier n the year being classed “recreational” : the 15 trigs circuit of the peak District, a distance of 52 miles which they completed in 13:54. All this domestic and individual running must have been what people wanted, because at the AGM a paid up membership of no less than 57 was reported. A committee reshuffle took place with G. White becoming Chairman and D. Erskine Secretary.

1992 emerges as a year of massive race participation, with teams doing well on an ad hoc basis when large numbers of members happened to turn up at the same time in open races, but we only had one runner, Moorhouse, in the National. We did however manage 3rd senior team in the County Cross Country. On the track Tressider and Osman gained county titles at Junior level in the 800m and 1500m respectively. The revived newsletter is a good source of information on racing activity for this year and succeeding ones, and the enormous amount can only be referred to in note form as follows: Staffs and Ashby 20s D. and T Erskine completed both with P.B. for Dave in 1:58. Kinder Downfall 6 members ran; Half Ramathon 6 ran; Flagg Moor 1st team; Zwei Tage Gebirgsmarathon (Swiss Karrimor) run at 8000 ft J. Armistead 26th; Sierre-Zinal (19 miles, 7000Ft climb) Anne Armistead 5:10. Bradwell 2nd team; Wirksworth Incline Moorhouse 3rd; Karrimor 7 ran; Saunders 6 ran; North Face Relay 4th team; Longnor 1st team with Cresswell 4th; Hayfield Fell Championship, Series vests to Allsop, White and Moseley; Robin Hood Marathon Atkin 2:43; Ashbourne Half Margaret Keeling 1:50; Uttoxeter Cross Country Vets Moorhouse 3rd, Tatham 6th; Juniors A Tatham 3rd; Winster Barrable 1st; Dovedale Dash Erskine 31st; Brassington Howitt 1st; Humber Bridge Marathon Allsop 2:56:40 and 6:52 in the Otter 40 and finally London Erskine 2:37:25

The Women’s and Junior sections were obviously flourishing and coach Tassell took the youngsters into Europe where they comprehensively beat the French over 3K (Morrison 1; Osman 2; Tressider 4 and Cummins 5) at Eubonne, Matlock’s twin town.

The White Peak was undergoing a reappraisal. Due to a cost cutting exercise, no souvenirs were presented to finishers, and to some of us who took part it seemed surprising that there were any finishers either, as atrocious weather conditions produced 3 ambulance cases of hypothermia and dozens undiagnosed ones. Nevertheless the perennial Peter Bates won the race in 2:44:08 with Hurley an excellent 4th in 2:46:55. Tracey Erskine was 3rd woman in 3:37:59. At the AGM the recently arrived Ian Milne became our new treasurer and we welcomed Canadian Larry Burroughs, over for a year on a teaching exchange with our own Tim Sanders.

Similar massive participation in races continued in 1993, a summary of which follows in no particular order. Saunders: Allsop and Muir 41st; Heald and R McDonald 43rd; Moseley and G Cummins 44th; John and Jo Armistead DNF. White Peak Walk Allsop 1st; White 7th. Flash “7” Moorhouse 1st. Winster Hill Race MAC took 1st 5 places. Flagg Moor 1st team. Derwent Valley Tour (4 races) Erskine 7th. Buxton “5” Howitt 1st V50. Bakewell Morrison 1st Junior; Taylor 1st V50 and Campbell 1st V60. Longnor Cresswell 2nd. Bamford Howitt 2nd V50. Karrimor 7 ran. Ashbourne Half Clamp 11th and Taylor 1st V50. Hayfield Fell Champs Webster 4th. Dovedale dash Webster 10th and Morrison 12th. Sleaford Half Heald 1:28:16. North Face Relay 6th and 25th teams. London Heald 3:9:00 PB; Clamp 3:20 (injury) and Burroughs 3:24 (Flu). Milford “21” Erskine 11th and Heald 63rd (2:39:51) Burbage Erskine 8th. Buxton “Death Run” (-5 Celsius) Erskine 2nd; Moorhouse 4th and Webster 5th. Club Cross Country Champs at Fritchley Erskine; Atkin; Cresswell took 1st 3 places. Inaugural Eyam Half Marathon – Mike Flint was our only representative.

To comment on the above results: Moorhouse ran consistently well in Vets races, Allsop in Ultra-distance events, Webster on the Fells (including the Bens of Jura) and Erskine on the road and country. Juniors Tressider, Osman and Morrison all gained County vests but we regretfully released Morrison to Derby and County at the end of the season in his best interests, long term. The senior Cross Country team finally got its act together by finishing 7th on aggregrate in the four races of the N. Mids. League. In the White Peak the new start (Tissington) and finish (Cromford Meadows) proved a success, with showers, bar and refreshments at the Rugby Club, and rapid posting up of results. The extra descent off the Sheep pasture incline seemed to pose few problems; nobody fell into the canal on the final sprint and the finishing times were bery comparable to previous years: Colin Hibberd (Witney) 2:39:54 and Sally Newman (Glossopdale) 3:23:06

Resources were targetted to develop another “Class” event, The Black Rocks Fell Race, with Tassell creating a longer course with more woodland that was expected to attract more of the hard men (and women). Recruitment week also held in the spring produced only one new member, Dave Hill, but a consistent and valued one at that. Over 65 Vet Gordon Campbell set a fine example by turning out in over 25 local races during the season, including Castleton and Taddington on consecutive nights! The AGM saw Gerry White replaced as chairman by Don Hale who again helped us out when committee duties were not popular. An important decision was taken to try to enhance the club’s image, already helped by the mark 3 vest, via a new series of over garments which would feature the club name.

At the 1994 AGM membership was reported as being down, although we had recruited some keen local runners who had, until now, managed to escape the MAC net, notably the “Three Musketeers” : Paul Keetley, Bill Willis and Doug Woffinden. No great enthusiasm for office holding was yet apparent, but the situation was resolved by a reshuffle, with Dave erskine taking the chair for one year and Karl Webster the secretary’s job. Neil Forrest was thanked on his resignation after many years from his role of helping to train the juniors. A referendum was held on the possibility of of changing the training night, but the outcome was the retention of Thursdays. The seniors further improved their position in the N. Mids. League to an impressive 6th place. In the Northern Counties at Birkenhead we finished 45th out of 100 clubs, and in the National we came 73rd out of 165. All the team deserve congratulations for these performances, but mention must be made of the contribution of Gary Thorpe, not just for his running, but for his ability to “talk up” individuals and get them to the start line. Gary had been enjoying something of a resurgence recently, particularly in the long fell races, where he successfully accompanied Karl Webster in the latter’s 2nd completion of the Bens of Jura in ’94. Many years after his first appearance in it as a schoolboy, Gary also won the Buxton “Death Run” which owes its gruesome nickname to him. The team was again successful in the North Face Relay, this time recording 2nd place, with the “B” team finishing 20th. We enjoyed less success however in the N. Counties 6 stage relay. The Club Championships produced a 1/2/3 of Cresswell, Thorpe and Whittaker, but the Fritchley course was getting no easier for certain older members who again went astray in spite of championship standard marking. It was a vintage year for the Vets in the county with Barrable taking the county Gold medal and leading the team to victory. Moorhouse and Cresswell, our other outstanding Vets were always well up in races and the latter won no less than 20 prizes in his first qualifying season. Taylor too, now running for us 2nd claim, was rarely beaten in the over 50 class. We finally said goodbye to him, one of our few remaining founder members, when he moved to Wales later in the season.

The White Peak had to cope with a course problem when the Hopton tunnel collapsed prior to the race. The difficulty was overcome and the race was won yet again by Peter Bates of Bury, with Mary Howarth first woman, striding home yet again for the Steel City. Visiting Wirksworth’s twin town of Die in France, Clamp and Tassell took time off from civic duties to run in the Montelimar Half, no doubt scoffing nougat at the feeding stations. On the female side, Jo Armistead achieved county honours and represented Derbyshire in the English Schools race at Birkenhead. Michael Flint combined holiday with competition, running both in the USA and in a grand prix series of three races in Malta. A one off charity race was organised at Lea by Roy Mason and was won by Barrable with Webster 3rd. This was the year when we made it on TV with successful coverage of the Black Rocks Fell Race on the Big Day Out programme. In the Ashby 20 Barrable joined the select group of club runners who have broken 2 hours, and Hill also achieved a PB. They were both using this as a race sharpener for the London in which Barrable recorded 2:39:38 but Hill’s 3:38:00 did not do his fitness justice, but Hale’s 3:35:30 was very creditable, coming only a few months after a serious operation.

In 1995 Treasurer Ian Milne also opted for malor surgery in a bid to resolve a 3 year old problem which would have made lesser men retire. All members were glad to see him fighting his way back to fitness by the end of the year. The White Peak had gained a new sponsor, Twiggs of Matlock, and the winner was Colin Hibberd of Witney with Hilary Walker of Serpentine R.C. 1st woman in a course record of 3:12:31 It was a year of normally busy activity in all the standard races. The Club Championship produced the usual permutation of names:Cresswell/Webster/Whittaker plus the usual list of lost runners (names witheld out of kindness). Cresswell’s win bringing him a rare hat trick of victories. The usual iron men of the mountains were in evidence again during the heatwave, in the Saunders at Consiton, Karrimor at Brecon and the Lowe in Scotland. These madmen were reinforced this year by new signing Steve Mead, who will obviously be a useful addition to the squad. On the shorter fell runs too, dozens of members were in action throughout the spring and into the tropical conditions of the summer. A major team effort was our defeat of Buxton for the 5th consecutive year at Flagg Moor with Barrable taking 1st and Webster 2nd. Perhaps the major individual coup of the year was Webster’s July win in the Nation Police Triathlon held in the Lake District. His time of 4:47 was 10 minutes inside the course record. Another new member making frequent visits to the lakes was Ian Conway who clocked 73 minutes in the tough Derwentwater race. Don Hale tried single handedly to re-establish us as a track club by competing at every distance from the sprints to 5000 metres both locally and in the Northern vets events. One of the still functioning founder memebrs, Clive Russell, notched up yet another Dovedale Dash, having competed in the race every year since it began in 1959, with the sole exception of 1969 – an amazing 36 appearances. Illness depleted the vets team at the County Championships at Darley Park, Derby, but Barrable gained the Silver medal in the Vet 40 class, followed home by Hurley, Keetley, Hale and Conway to take 3rd team place, only Vet 40s being allowed to count for some strange reason. Following his long term strategy of only training every 10 years, Howitt took the county gold in the Vet 60 class to round off a season of more than 10 category wins, including a time of 1:31:43 in the Chesterfield Half Marathon and the Grand Prix title. Barrable too had at least 10 major wins or placesduring the year in both Vets and open competition – we stopped counting after a while. John Hurley, in his first season as a vet also took a number of prizes , as did Cresswell and Moorhouse. From the sublime to the ridiculous, The Club Christmas Dinner (for 1994) was held at the Elton Cafe in March 1995! With the election of Andy Whittaker to the Chair at the AGM, whilst grateful for the efforts pf all the numerous recent office holders, now ideally looked forwards to a period of committee stability.

At the time this was written in 1996, and as we approach our anniversary, the club’s history is still being written onthe roads and hills of north Derbyshire. Most of the club’s racing will take place from late spring onwards, and a long distance relay run is being planned to to commemorate our 20 years. So far, the staple event of the winter months has been the monthly 10k handicap to Cromford and back, with Steve Mead and Jeremy Hall winning the coveted “egg Cup” in the first 2 races. This even tover the years has undoubtedly provided a valuable focus and motivation for our winter programme on Thursdays, and the successive handicappers, Armitage, Mason and Keetley deserve our thanks, however much we have rubbished their arithmetic in the past. In an unaccustomedly cold winter the handful of races so far have attracted few runners. Hale and Howitt started the year well in the Whatstandwell “5” on New Year’s Day, but the one athlete signalling his intentions for 1996 was young Esmond Tressider. After winning the Beetroot Race the 16 year old continued to challenge the seniors by finishing 11th out of 300 in the Box Hill race, ably supported by his father Rob in 98th place. He followed this up in the Tigger Tor fell race over a longer than usual course in atrocious conditions of mud, melting snow and ice, when he finished 26th, followed by Rob, 133rd and Brian, 148th and 1st Vet 60. Esmond’s time of 1:17 was remarkable in every way. The major event in the club diary so far is the White Peak, on 18th May, preceded by the return of the Club Championships to Matlock on March 2nd, with a lap course at Brickyard Farm which should enable all sections of the club to share a mass start over varying distances. This eventwill be followed by the anniversary year dinner in Wirksworth.

Anecdotal Evidence


As a club grows it develops legends of its own when its members recall incidents which occasionally “improve” with the telling. A selection of headlines follows:


The novice runner who took a nap at 12 miles and, after waking up, continued running but in the wrong direction towards Ashbourne.

The Irish contingent who held up the start after a late dash from the airport in a bid to sandwich our marathon between another two in a period of three days.

The couple accompanied by dogs who were surprised to be disqualified after starting 15 minutes ahead of the field.

Malcolm Taylor who dropped out at Hartington, jogged across to the High Peak Trail just before Minninglow where the astounded officials thought he was leading the field inside world record time.

The year the Brian Howitt changed from Cross Country shoes to Racing Flats at Parsley Hay, but only after receiving written permission from Joe Keily of the AAAs.

Steve Pearson’s formula for a good run: 4 pints of beer the night before the race to boost blood sugar. He used it to good effect several times.

Cans of Isostar cached under rocks at Minninglow for use on training runs. All the good was undone by Mick Moorhouse who handed out Jam Tarts and Coke which produced dire effects by the Middleton incline.

Neil Forrest, the same man who had put out the markers the day before, who took a wrong turn on to the road at Middleton Top, and Roland Gibbard who did the same thing with unfortunate consequences.


Rugby player Brian Wardle’s fear on his track debut that if anyone elbowed him he might tackle them.
The young Gary Thorpe’s worry that he would lose his amatuer status when he was publicly given a cash prize after his win a Tideswell.

The Phantom Runner again: Gordon Cresswell is sure that John Flood existed. He alleges that he still owes him the 30p he borrowed at Barnsley.

Stuart Allsop’s interminable mystery runs from Crich, particularly the 12 miles in a thunderstorm on midsummer’s night.

Certain orienteers always managing to get lost on the Fritchley course, but always getting back in time for Stuart’s mince pies after the race.

Roy Mason’s dog assisted races: Tessa once towed him so hard that the leather harness broke. N.B. Roy’s PB’s were achieved minus dog.

Geoff William’s cycle rides to race venues. Leicester to matlock was the record.

The tendency of Matthew Parris to turn out in big championship races wearing sawn off jeans.

Michael Flint’s debut inthe Rowsley run when he allegedly reached the outskirts of Bakewell before turning back.

a 1970’s run led by Clive Russell from matlock to parwich taking the direct line across country in deep snow and thick fog. We ahd to keep up with him because we were all lost.

French member Alain Mabire who would only communicate with other members by using the chairman as interpreter. Have you ever tried running up Bank Road in French?

The early Buxton “Death Runs” – either a force 10 gale which blew the lightweight Gary Thorpe 3 times up to Solomon’s Temple and 2nd place or gingerly descending over the frozen tops of 6 foot snow drifts after the home team’s warning of “Don’t go through the crust or you’ll snap your leg off like a carrot!”

The year Chris Rosling nearly drowned (no joke) when he was pinned against the stepping stones by the swollen River Dove near the start of the Dash. Fortunately ian Farrand was at hand to rescue him.

Neil Tathum’s 2nd place in a race while camping in Southwest France – unfortunately he had no use for the prize of a live Guinea Fowl.

A Karrimor entrant who discovered to his dismay on the first night that he had only packed the frame of his tent.

A Four Inns run on a dark night when runners encountered waist deep water on the riverside path to Darley. This failed to extinguish Dave Erskine’s portable fairy lights but snorkels are issued to vertically challenged members now.

The apocryphal rule (33b) – Thou shalt not splash thy neighbour when thou runnest through puddles – except in races.

The Louis Armstron and the Ben Johnson runs – how many members can still identify these routes and explain their names?


So, as Matlock AC completes its first 20 years, what conclusions can we draw? If we had our time over again what might we do differently? Would we give priority to organisation and administration, the lack of which has regularly been deplored at AGMS. Probably not, because our memebrs have always been active runners and we lack the nucleus of retired athletes prepared to officiate. We are just all running longer! Would we make more effort to weld our runners into a regular team? Probably not, because of the irreversible trend towards individualism which came in with the jogging bbom. Would we give more encouragement to the Women’s and Junior’s sections? Probably not, because of the small numbers involved and in the case of the Juniors, only rarely and for limited periods are parents prepared to assist our dedicated coaches with transport and other support.

Perhaps there is one thing with hindsight we might have done differently. At any one time only a small minority of members have actually lived in Matlock and the club’s centre of gravity has shifted about 4 times over the 20 years, reflecting the membership of the committee. This is shown in the location of the Club Championships – Parwich; Matlock; South Darley; Fritchley and Matlock once again. There has been nothing wrong with the courses or the dedication of the officials, but it has meant that they have often unselfishly given up the chance to run themselves, and the frequent changes have meant that the courses have never become well known. Any one joining an established club in 1976, such as Derby, knew that his/her first duty was to learn the 5 basic courses over which all the club’s internal races had been run for the last 80 years. Thus club races needed no organising. Could we learn from this and keep our Club Championships in Matlock permanently, and in the process reinstate the club “10”; “Half” and “7” as internal events, thus establishing a tradition to take us into the next 20 years?

Finally, what has Matlock AC really achieved in its first 20 years? Quite a lot in fact – some impressive performances by individuals and even by teams when everything has happened to click at the right time, as the yearly analysis has shown. We have a membership of varying interests. Obviously some people would not be seen dead on a track, just as others would dismiss a 2 day event out of hand, but most memebrs have had a go at all branches of the sportand we have remained remarkably free of cliques. On another level the fact that we have enjoyed the membership of the local Conservative MP, the Parliamentary Labour candidate and the Liberal Democrat leader of Derbyshire Dales District Council must prove something – I’m not quite sure what! The club has generated a lot of running in 20 years as its founders intended, a lot of fitness, a lot of fun and a lot of friendships. It may have even changed a few lives.

Rather than indulge in extravagant claims it is perhaps better to state a bottom line with which no one could disagree, certainly not the men – without MAC, Thursday nights would not be the same!

Brian Howitt 1996

The third decade would see stability in the club’s administration, allowing decisions on the future to be taken affecting both our finances and the programme of training, racing and the organisation of

nationally recognised events. My apologies in advance for the omissions and errors which will

inevitably occur in the following record.