In the beginning

In the beginning …

Over a beer in the Court Inn one week, I was wondering aloud as to how old the club was, with a view to celebrating an anniversary at some stage. Several of, err, how can I put this, the more mature members, had some idea of how the club got started, but they all said that I should ask Bob Johnson, so I did, and this is what he wrote. Shaun.

Hi Shaun – this came up a year or two back in connection with a possible 20th celebration.Pam and Liz will remember it. I emailed Pam with all I could recall, and I think Liz added more.Unfortunately I haven’t kept that email, tho Pam may have it somewhere.

Anyway, the meeting to form Elvet Striders was on Tues 1st Oct 1985 at 1:15pm in room CM221 of the Uni Maths Dept (so my diary says).

There were about 8 or 10 present including possibly Paul Loftus (ask him). The group was people from the University who ran together plus my neighbour Bill Appleby (at lunchtime? – he was a teacher).Liz wasn’t there, but joined soon, and after a few(?) years took over as Secretary. Allan Seheult then was still a footballer, but joined a few years afterwards when he turned to running instead. Barrie Evans and Dave Shipman joined us too a year or two later. I recall Barrie arriving one Wed, and running with him two laps of the city.

Back to that meeting — I was made Secretary, the Treasurer was Dave Jenkin – I can’t recall any other officers.

Someone had a catalogue of mail-order gear, and we chose a green-and-white strip from a standard range. (Liz has a snap of me wearing it, in my secret file at Bristol). It was soon apparent from races that we’d picked the same gear as Heaton Harriers, but it didn’t seem to matter.

Micky Page, then Secretary of Houghton-le-Spring Harriers, advised us on the details of getting affiliated and we adapted Houghton’s constitution. It was either he or Dave Jenkin who designed the logo with the shield. Pam should have a copy of the constitution somewhere – maybe even the attendance list for the Oct 1st meeting.

After the meeting I phoned Dr Richardson, the Northern counties AA man. It was in that conversation that the name Elvet Striders came up. We had proposed Durham Striders but he said we should be clearly distinct from Durham City Harriers. He made some suggestions, and I chose. According to my diary the AAA application form went off on Mon 6th Oct 1985 but there’s no record of the reply. Again, copies of these papers could be in the Secretary’s files.

So what date counts? The meeting on Oct 1st perhaps? Or when the AAA affiliation came through? It doesn’t matter too much, I guess.

Cheers, Bob

PS – a couple of Striders’ traditions came in those early days — not from any brilliant insight, but simply from magazines. First the monthly ‘club run’, where leaders turn back at intervals. The other was the handicap system, exactly as Colin describes today – two laps of the woods with a closely-honed master list of personal start-intervals based on performance. Later on, the Xmas handicap with no entry fee but everyone contributing a prize I modestly claim as my idea. The ‘Xmas party in February’ tradition simply commemorates a slight booking cock-up, but not by the secretary!


Tony Young has managed to unearth a cutting of an article by Mike Page in the now defunct ‘Northern Runner’ on the foundation of the club:

'Northern Runner' cutting from 1985.

So there you have it – the origins of the club. Affiliation granted on November the 13th, 1985.

Even earlier days …

Liz Green adds:Hi Guys, this will need some diary and memory searching. Maths and engineering staff used to dash round the long bull field lunch times and my first date with Peter, the Monday following one of Allan’s birthday parties at High Shincliff (first house they lived in there) was on that famous route in, probably, 1980. We used to meet on Wednesdays long before we registered with AAA or whatever and became Striders hooray.

I remember stitching sigmas onto white t-shirts so four ? mathematicians, (Peter, John, Euan, +?) could be a team in the Croxdale race. This suggests we didn’t have an official vest? Will hunt through photos, including Bob in the old strip.

Although I was secretary for a few years until we moved here in 1990, I don’t have any club records so far as I remember but my diary might reveal a thing or two!


Alan Purvis adds:I’m sure it was functioning as a club much earlier than 1985. I had done the Morpeth to Newcastle New Year’s Day run in the early eighties and saw a report of the run in the Durham Advertiser. It gave the names and times of the finishers and I saw the names of Peter and Liz Green and thought,”I ‘m a blit slower than P.Green but quicker than E.Green – I could join a running club!”

I did the first GNR in 1981 and I am sure that I joined the club a year or so later. I also believe I joined before Dave Shipman and I remember he, Tina Cook, John Rowntree and Mick Seed being referred to as the ‘Langley Park Branch’.

Tony and Jan Young should have a better idea of the start of the club as Tony and possibly Jan, were members of Durham Harriers before the Striders existed.

Another very early member was the present Durham University Treasurer, Paulina Lubacz who was appointed Deputy Treasurer in 1985. I talked to her on a number of runs when she was just an assistant in the Treasurer’s Department. I remember that she had lovely blue eyes but I don’t remember the date – but that’s life!

Another early memory is that I organised a time trial using the steep bank across the old Electricity Board training fields below the A 690 as it leaves Durham on the way to Sunderland. I used to torture myself by running from five to ten times up the slope. I set out ten pebbles at the bottom to help me keep the score ( the 6th run was the worst – already tired and a lot left to do). Each runner had to do three ascents and somehow we were able to synchronise the watches at the start and finish. Competitors came from the Harriers as well as Striders and the winner was a certain John Marshall of Durham Pine fame – later DP Furniture Express – sponsors of the Harrier League.

Last word to Bob:Alan’s notes bring back some memories. I managed to avoid the hill run he describes, and tho I know it took place, can’t remember the date. And all the names are old friends.

Alan doesn’t mention that the John Marshall connection came about because he was (one of) Paulina’s boyfriends … and P herself was North-East ladies’ 10-mile road champion one year in the 80s. John M gave a rather nice pine-framed wall mirror as a prize for the very first edition (mid-80s) of what has now become the Court Inn Clamber.

In the pre-Elvet Striders days the university running group called itself ‘Durham Striders’ and it wasn’t AAA-affiliated. Members included Peter and Liz Green, and Paulina, and my then boss Euan Squires. We had a white vest with one broad purple hoop. I’ll send you a snap of me and Euan wearing it in about 82 at the Middleton in Teesdale half marathon.

The Langley Park Branch were early Elvet Striders after affiliation in 85 and opening up of membership. Tony and Jan weren’t long behind. Alan P must have joined around then too, along with Mike and Kim Hall.

I’ll look into 80s diaries and photo albums tonight … might even email Paulina … cheers, Bob

Bob Johnson at the 1984 Middleton in Teesdale half-marathon or 'Gentian Run' - showing off the Durham Striders Vest.

OK Shaun, here’s a faded snap from the 1984 Middleton in Teesdale half-marathon or ‘Gentian Run’ – showing off the Durham Striders vest – white plus purple – it was a possibility for Elvet Striders too of course, but the supplier put up prices too much – cheers, Bob

(Visited 1,513 times, 1 visits today)