Allan Seheult (1942-2019)

A tribute to Allan Seheult

Runner, triathlete, cyclist and coach

Carole has asked me to talk about some aspects of Allan’s sporting life: as a runner, cyclist, triathlete and coach; but it goes without saying that I am also describing a much-loved friend. Put simply, Carole, we loved him to bits and we will miss him terribly. 

Allan enriched our sporting lives with his humour, friendship and enthusiasm. In his modest and unassuming way, he would share his expertise, give advice and support, encouragement and direction.  Whether you were a novice beginner or serious competitor, it was always about you, not about him.

Later in the day you might hear about his life, what Carole and the family were doing or what events and targets he was focussing on. That’s a very special quality in an environment where most of us, let’s be honest, are almost entirely focused on ourselves.

Allan came to running from a background of football, a keen and skilful goalkeeper. He always said he was more of a sprinter by physique, and avoided anything over 10k if he could; he saw himself as determined rather than talented.   Don’t be fooled by his modesty; he ran for the Striders in relays, cross-country and road races all over the UK.

In his 50s he applied his systematic approach to marathon running, grinding out 10 milers and half marathons, successfully completing 3 London Marathons in total.

Throughout his time running, behind the scenes, he gave a great deal to the development and success of the Striders; he was an active club member for 35 years and there are a number of Club Captains and Chairs here today who are very grateful for his support.

As a cyclist Allan showed that same determination and enthusiasm, enjoying regular cycling with groups of friends here and abroad. He completed the Coast to Coast, made several trips to France to watch the Tour, did hundreds of training rides and participated in a number of organised sportive and charity rides.

Certain features always stood out: using the latest technology and upgrades to improve his performance; wearing very smart cycling kit; seeking out good places for coffee and cake; taking ages to get ready for a ride!

In the last couple of years Allan’s enthusiasm for cycling, which had waned after a period of ill-health, was re-ignited when he purchased his Orbea carbon e-bike. It gave him a new lease of life, allowing him to resume riding with the Sunday morning tri-group.  With the additional electric power, Allan took great pleasure in beating everyone to the top of the hill, where he would take photos and jokingly insult the stragglers.

Aged 60, Allan shifted his focus to triathlon, applying the same thorough approach to conquering the 3 disciplines. Allan would say he never quite got there with his swimming, holding a diagonal position in the water at times. He said he had heavy legs from years of sport!

Building on regular training with the TRI club in Durham, he attended training camps in Sardinia and Majorca for several years. He competed in 3 World Championships: Lausanne, Hamburg and Vancouver, where he won a bronze medal.

As a coach Allan combined his sporting experience with his statistician’s mind for detail and precision. He developed equations and spreadsheets for absolutely every distance or event. A conversation with Allan would go something like this: ‘Take your PB for 10k, multiply it by your V2 max, divide that by a factor of 3.25 then run two laps of Maiden Castle at 70 seconds per lap.  If you can do that and the weather forecast is ok, you can run a PB at London next year!’ Don’t ask me how he worked it all out!  Seriously, he drew on a lifetime of training and competition experience, backed up with extensive reading and research.

But he wasn’t some sort of robot coach, because his approach also featured a healthy dose of aspiration and admiration for his sporting heroes.  Mohammed Ali and Pele have already been mentioned.  I could add in Coe, Ovett, Usain Bolt, George Best, Geraint Thomas and many others.  His starting point might have been the science, but he was also a great dreamer, moved and motivated by the drama of sporting achievement.

He knew that success depended on a combination of head and heart, physical effort and commitment.

Many individuals here today have benefited greatly from Allan’s personable approach. He believed that everyone could improve, achieve and succeed.

In the last few years, working closely with Ian McKenzie, Allan refined and shared his approach, running duathlon events at High Shincliffe and turbo sessions at Coxhoe Sports Centre and, most significantly, weekly track sessions at Maiden Castle. Typical Allan, inclusive, supportive he would turn out in all weathers at all times of day and night. He also supported and encouraged other coaches and was a great sounding board for new coaches, helping them to overcome barriers to success.

I would like to give you a flavour of Allan’s last week.

– A Sunday bike ride with the tri-club, coffee and cake at Betty Bees.

 -Track sessions on Monday and Wednesday, with Christmas Food and drink trackside afterwards.

– A Turbo session followed by Costa Coffee on Thursday

– Individual training on Friday

-Triathlon coaching, followed by a debrief in Betty Bees on Saturday.

I think we can tell from that, a typical week, that Allan was doing what he loved doing right to the end.

Finally, for the athletes in the room, some advice from Allan himself, comments which have served us all well over the years or which may be useful for your next event. You may have heard Allan shouting these out on the side of the track or when watching you in an event:

‘Don’t go off too fast!’- ‘Stay comfortable!’- Stay relaxed!’- ‘Don’t forget to drink!’ – ‘Save your effort for the final phase!’ – Remember the iron bar!’- Remember the crisps!

And lastly, ‘FINISH STRONG!’

David Shipman

President of Elvet Striders   20/1/2020

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