Brian Oxley’s paean to the passing of Derek Turnbull
Brian Oxley of Canada, a founder of masters track in that country and recently retired from WMA politics, was greatly affected by the death of Derek Turnbull, one of the greatest masters runners of all time. This week he sent a circle of friends a poetic tribute to Turnbull, which I’m honored to share here. Brian began: “I’m sure you’ve all read ‘Robinson Crusoe.’ Written by Daniel Defoe, born 1660. Defoe also toured England and wrote about his travels.”
Derek then wrote:
Of the county of Stafford, he said “The people of this county have been particularly famous, and more than any county in England, for good footmanship, and there have been, and still are among them, some of the fleetest runners in England; which I do not grant to be occasioned by any particular temperature of the air or soil, so much as to the hardy breed of the inhabitants, especially in the moorlands or norhtern parts of the county, and to their exercising themselvs to it from their childhood; for running foot-races seems to be the general sport or diversion of the country.”
Now isn’t that an intriguing glimpse of the past? (…and of days when sentences were longer!) I spent a few moments on the internet, but couldn’t find any references to oiutstanding English runners of the late 1600s, early 1700s. Lost in the mists of time. How would they have timed them, I wonder?
On reading that passage, I thought immediately of Jack Foster(winner of the Commonwealth Games marathon in 2:08 (?) when he was over forty, and who donated a perpetual cup for our ’75 marathon – sadly the recipient kept it) and of Derek Turnbull, whose training method was the same as Jack’s — just get out there and run the hills. (Another long sentence, trying to emulate Defoe.)
We can only hope that those who run for the joy of it will continue to triumph over those who just want medals.
All for now,