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Athletics Foundation’s fab 4 finish the Great North

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Athletics Foundation
Moorcroft, Tulloh, Chataway and Buckner on their marks
Four former European and Commonwealth Champions were able to claim a victory for athletics after they finished the BUPA Great North Run.

For the sport’s ‘fab 4’ have raised thousands of pounds for the Athletics Foundation charity, which has been created to encourage participation in athletics and enable the next generation of young UK athletes to reach their maximum potential. It provides support to individuals to help them overcome challenges in order to succeed and achieve their dreams.

 

The quartet who fulfilled their dreams – and inspired the nation with their deeds – were led home by Jack Buckner, the 1986 European 5000m Champion. He crossed the line in 80 minutes, then confessed: “I went off too fast. I can’t bear doing long runs; the longest I trained was for an hour. So I was fine for the first 5 miles, on 6-minute miling. I was struggling for the next 5. And then I hung on.”

 

Sir Christopher Chataway finished in 1 hour 38 minutes 50 seconds – a wonderful time 52 years after he won the Commonwealth Games 3 miles title, and talked as enthusiastically as a teenager about the joys of running. “I was hoping for 1:40,” he said. “I run most days. I love it. I can’t think why I spent so many years of my middle life doing silly things like smoking.”

Could he think why the running boom has not been accompanied by an upsurge in UK endurance running standards? “These things go in waves. The chips will fall right for somebody and they will come through – as they did for Kelly Holmes with those two fantastic Olympic victories in Athens.”

 

Bruce Tulloh, the European 5000m Champion of 1962, crossed the line in 1:42 and, like the conscientious coach he is, first checked on how his charge, Birhan Dagne, had run. She had finished 13th in 1:14:45 – frustratingly similar to the times she has clocked in the last few weeks in two other half marathons. Then Tulloh talked of his own race: “Hard work. I need a few more miles. I’ve been doing 35 a week – not quite enough.”

 

His next race will be in slightly more exotic seaside surroundings – a 10km in Barbados, where he will also run coaching clinics in December.

Dave Moorcroft, the 1982 Commonwealth Champion completed the quartet in 1:55 despite an adductor injury that had prevented him training for the past three weeks. He said: “I had to walk most of the second half but I got round.”

 

Will the quartet have a rematch in 12 months’ time? “I have an excuse next year,” replied Sir Christopher, with the reactions of a sprinter. “My son is getting married.”

 

But don’t let that stop you rewarding the sport’s fab four for their efforts this time around. There is still time for you to contribute to their sponsorship – and help athletes of the future to fulfil their dreams – by visiting the Just Giving website and supporting the European Team or the Commonwealth Team.