Dave Shipman writes …
What follows is a snapshot of memories taken from conversations held over the last week or so, since the very sad news of Geoff’s death spread around the club. Geoff is fondly remembered by many people in the Elvet Striders Running Club as he was a popular lively club member from the early 1990s until his business priorities took up most of his time. For those of you who don’t know it, the Striders is a running club containing people from all walks of life, with almost as much emphasis on eating, drinking and socialising, as there is on athletic effort and competition. Because of his personality Geoff fitted well into that social mix, as he was always very sociable, witty and knew a lot about many subjects especially music so was always good company on long runs and long journeys to races. Not only was he positive, lively and great to be around he was always very supportive and interested in the lives of others, encouraging and congratulating them in their running efforts and bringing new, hesitant or less confident runners to the club from amongst his colleagues.
Geoff has a fairly unique approach to running, in the sense that he was honest! Ask most runners how they are going and they reply with all the excuses in the book … they’ve been injured, … only trained sporadically, … out late last night. And so on. In Geoff’s case, when he said he had not run for two months he meant it, his weight and fitness did tend to yo yo a bit but fuelled by his famous mars bar training diet, he would turn out and race whenever he could. He was always an extremely determined runner, and when he had the time and motivation he was able to get fit very quickly and could perform well after only a few weeks of serious training.
For a while Geoff took responsibility for organising club transport and travel, with bus trips to all the major races, Brampton to Carlisle, Blaydon, Morpeth, as well as to the more exotic destinations like France for Kit and Blondiene’s wedding and to Lanzarote and Portugal for Strider’s Training camps!!! As the horizons broadened Geoff joked that he should set up his own travel business, the Strider’s Intergalactic Travel Company, though I don’t think we ever had a bus that went quite that far …
On such trips Geoff’s qualities and enthusiasm for life were apparent to all; with his love of music and dancing, often taking up as much energy as his running. In Lanzarote the regimen was an early morning run to avoid the heat and the many dogs, followed by a long breakfast. Then, ever the Adventurous Englishman Abroad and a Spanish Linguist to boot, dressed in his shorts and white hat, Geoff would head off to find the best restaurants, tapas bars and cafes. He and Jane hired a motorbike and toured around the island, with the rest of the group benefiting at night when Geoff would lead them to a great place to eat.
One year; the New Years Eve before the Morpeth to Newcastle race,- a daunting 14 miler, Geoff and Jane hosted a fantastic party with much drinking and dancing, and some special pre-race preparation ‘Geoff style’, – a late night marshmallow eating competition. The next day he completed the race in an astonishingly good time even though his running mate had agreed to carry a ten pound note in case a taxi was needed to get them to the finish.
Finally. Like many of us Geoff occasionally liked to over indulge but there was much more to him than that. He had a real energy and concern for people and he would never let running get in the way of all the other things that mattered to him and the other interests in life that he wanted to pursue. In his time as a club member he contributed significantly to the success and the whole ethos of the club as it has continued. He will be greatly missed by us all because of that vitality, fun and enthusiasm which it is not possible to do justice to in the few anecdotes I have shared with you today. As one club member said a few days ago ‘you always felt better for having spent time with him’.