Graham Goldsmid was the former club chairman and has been a Harrier member for over 25 years. He talks about how races have changed since he first started running and also his preparations for the London Marathon 2024.
‘Brent Knoll’ 2023
Interview - January 2024
When did you start running/what got you into running?
I did not run at school except for a bit of cross country. I lived in SW London near Richmond Park so at secondary school we used to go for training runs in the park. But most of us were not that interested. We would just jog along and try to take shortcuts when the teacher was not around!
I started running properly in 1982, I was 21 and a student at Kingston Poly. It was the start of the jogging boom and the London Marathon. I went out for a run with a friend and managed about 2 miles wearing a pair of Stan Smith tennis shoes before I had to stop exhausted and walk home. But I had enjoyed the run and wanted to carry on. So that was the start of my running journey. I began to run 2 – 3 miles a day with friends and soon built up my fitness and mileage on and off road. I also quickly realised that my Stan Smith tennis shoes were not going to help my running so I bought a pair of Brooks which I wore for years on and off road, no shoe rotation back then for me!
After running for about a year I decided to enter one of the local road races to see how I would get on. My first race was the ‘Cabbage Patch 10’ in Twickenham in October 1983. Ten milers like the Cabbage Patch then were the usual distance for longer road races until the rise of the Half marathon. Races used to be a bit more basic, cheap to enter, no super shoes or gels, no timing chips, and results only obtainable in the pre-internet era if you left 50p in an addressed envelope at the race desk. Looking at the results sheet, which I still have, I managed to finish 118th out of 697 in a time of 63.48 and here I am 40yrs later still going (but a bit slower!).
‘Kingston 10’ 1984
How long have you been a Wells City Harriers member for?
I joined Wells in 1997 having moved down to Somerset from London with my family in 1996. I had a place in the 97 London Marathon which I had held over for a year due to injury so was looking to join a local club. I first started running with the ‘Butleigh runners’, a small group who ran locally on Saturday mornings. It turned out they were all members of Wells as well and suggested I should come along to the club’s Wednesday social run and see how I got on.
Gary Tubridy (who still runs for Wells and is race director of the Babcary race) used to drive a few of us up to Wells on Wednesday night for the club’s social run from the Rugby club. I had not thought about joining a club before moving to Somerset but as I was new to the area found it a great way to meet people and improve my running. The Wednesday night runs from the Rugby club used to be the main club night with a big turnout of runners of all abilities. I remember each week an easy paced run round Wells would inevitably end in a free for all as everyone raced the last couple of miles to get back to the bar for a drink and chat about races coming up etc.
Once I had been running on Wednesday nights for a few months I did the London Marathon in 97 and then joined the club and started to do the local races like Glastonbury, Butleigh, and Bent Knoll etc.
‘London Marathon’ 1997 (No chip!)
What runs do you enjoy the best?
Living in a rural area I like to do a variety of runs both on and off road but if it’s wet and muddy I prefer the roads. In London I started doing road races at all distances up to Half Marathons, but when I moved to Somerset that’s when I began to race off road and do X country as well. Pre Gwent league, Wells used to compete in the old Wessex league which was much bigger than the version we have today, and I think my first race was at Newbury. The fixture at Devizes sticks in my mind as being the worst course I have ever run on for mud, plus I fell in a stream at the end! But X country is great for strength and overall endurance and that’s why so many of the great’s used to run it like Brendon Foster etc. I still try to do a couple of Gwent league races a year as the standard is so high and you get to compete with the best in your age group in the region.
Where is the best place you have run?
The best location I have run was probably the Great Barrier Reef 10k in Australia in November 2015, which started on the beach in Port Douglas, Queensland. My wife Cath and I were staying there for a few days and did not even know it was on. We just saw a poster the day before, walked down to the start, got a number and raced along the beach in the sun with fantastic scenery. Probably the only race I will do that has ‘Beware the Alligators’ signs on the course! So that’s probably my best for location.
Do you/did you participate in any other sports?
I played football and tennis at school and continued to play 5 a side football and squash when working in London. I started cycling a few years ago and also do a yoga class once a week.
What is your greatest running achievement?
I would class myself as a ‘Steady Eddy’ middle of the pack runner. I have only won 1 race, ‘The Pen Selwood 10’ in 2008, and I only managed this because everyone else was racing at better quality races that day, so I got lucky but a win is a win. But like most runners I just enjoy the competition and socialising at races. The Somerset Series is good for local races and over the years I have managed to win prizes in my age categories.
‘Quantock Beast’ 2000
Note the dodgy club shorts!
Most of your PBs came before digital records. Can you list a few?
In the pre internet era after a lot of races I was not that bothered about my times for some reason (probably too mean to spend 50p to get them!) so I never got the results. But I did dig out my certificate for the Kingston 10 in 1984 which I did in 60.24 I would be very happy with that over 10 miles today! My Half marathon PB is not great. I ran 1.21 at the old Cheddar half in 2001 as part of the winning Wells team.
For 5k I did 17.27 at Street in Nov 1997, and my first Power of 10 listing shows that I did 37.15 for 10k at the Yeovilton Easter Bunny in 2000. My Marathon PB was at London in 1997 which was 3.23.59 but that was pre-chip and it took me about 10 minutes to walk over the start once the race had started, so I think I did it in about 3.13. I have a club place at London this year after a break of 20 years and would be very happy with 3.35.
You were previously the Chairman of the club. How long were you in the role for and what was the experience like?
I was chairman for 7 years from 2016 to this year. I enjoyed the role and felt it helped that I was also a coach and went to the junior sessions on Monday and adult sessions on Tuesday. I have always said that Wells as a club is a broad church with all its members involved in lots of different activities and events. I never thought I would end up as Chairman when I first went along to the Wednesday and Tuesday sessions. Clive Thomas was chairman then and I would just keep quiet at the back and listen; very much the new boy!
The club is lucky in that it has a good group of coaches and an experienced committee who are invaluable in running the club, so as Chairman I was able to call on their help when needed. One big thing during that time of course was Covid and it was important to try and get things going again as soon as possible after the lock down. We also had to move from the track at Millfield for nearly 2 years while it was replaced and run sessions from Strode College. During my time as Chairman I was pleased the club kept its membership numbers steady and we continued to grow as a club in both our senior and junior sections. We punch above our weight in terms of performance at both team and individual level with international vests and success at Gwent league and other events, while also helping our partners on the track and field at Yeovil Olympiads.
2012 with the Olympic torch
How long have you been coaching for and what do you enjoy about being a running coach for Wells City Harriers?
I started coaching in 2004, I used to take my 2 sons down to the junior session which back then was on a Tuesday before the senior sessions. I helped out raking the long jump pit etc and then did the Assistant Coach’s Course and then in 2008 did the Level 2 Full Coach’s Course. I have also done the Leadership in Running Course to help with a Couch to 5k course which we used to organise in Shepton Mallet on Sunday mornings. I think it’s good I can give something back to the sport and try to help juniors develop their potential. I worked for SASP in 2010 – 11 visiting primary schools in the area and coaching athletics and x country which led to a number of juniors joining the club and I still get adults tapping me on the shoulder at races saying I coached them when they were at school (makes me feel ancient!).
You are a keen Park Runner. What do you enjoy about parkrun?
I must admit I only did my first park run in 2019 so I came to it late. Since then I have done over a 100. I enjoy the simplicity of it. You get up, turn up, run, get a tag, show your bar code, all done. And it's free! It’s also a good opportunity to run a bit faster and I have benefited from the discipline of doing them every week as a training session. Plus they are everywhere so it’s a great way to do a run in a new area and it attracts new people to running. The only thing I would say is has it stopped people from doing other races? I am not sure it has but anything that gets people out and exercising in the fresh air must be good.
You are often found travelling to local races. Do you have a favourite?
Locally I like Glastonbury 10k for the atmosphere and of course the club’s Wells Festival of Running which is a great event and hopefully will be on again this year. Bath Half is a good race as well though it keeps changing its route.
My aim now is to try and do new races as you can get a bit stale doing the same ones each year, but they all have their own character. Sometimes if I am training for a half or something I will travel to a new race and try to grab my age category prize. We used to laugh about doing this on the Wednesday night social runs and call it ‘Pot Hunting’.
Bath Half 2023
You had success in the 2023 Somerset Series finishing first V60. How does it feel to achieve this accolade and have you achieved anything similar in the past?
I was pleased to finish top v60 in the Series this year and win my age category in 9 of the races.
The series has always been something I have enjoyed doing with its variety of races Somerset. I also, at last, got to beat fellow v60 and Wells super vet Steve Master’s in a series race, this after 20 years of trying! But you’re always looking at who is coming out of the age group below so it’s a limited window of opportunity and I doubt I will win the V60 this year.
What are your plans for your running in the future?
2023 was a good year for me. I managed to achieve all my goals and targets. So my aim for 2024 is to keep going, stay injury free and see how I get on at the London marathon having not run a marathon for 20 years! As a V60 you do have to train smarter, it's quality not quantity that matters plus a combination of good diet, cross training and recovery.
Why Wells City Harriers?
It’s a friendly club and hopefully tries to be all inclusive and makes everyone feel welcome across all age groups. After being a member for 27 years it's something I enjoy being part of and contributing to and have enjoyed training and competing with so many people and hopefully will continue to do so for a few more years to come.
To view Graham's performances, visit his 'Power of 10' and 'Run Britain' profiles, by clicking on the images below.
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