Yesterday some of our members attended the funeral of Paul Gibson who died after a short illness on April 2nd, aged 66. Paul had been a founder member of Durham City Harriers in 1971; he subsequently joined Elvet Striders, a member for several years, but in recent times he was doing more cycling and so joined the tri-club, Paul was a committed and accomplished athlete with a passion for XC. I first met him in 1982 when I joined DCH with Jan Young. Paul was one of small group of elite runners, arguably one of the best in the club. That group made new runners like us feel welcome although we were nowhere near their quality. Paul has always been a very warm and sociable guy. He joined us in various pubs after training or races for some food and a few drinks, and was very entertaining company. He had a great sense of humour and a very engaging personality. He will be sorely missed by his friends from all his clubs and the ‘affable cyclists’ ( they know who they are!). I for one am honoured to have known him.
This eulogy was read out by our club Chairman, David Shipman.
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!’
President of Elvet Striders 20/1/2020
Following on from the announcement of Keith’s sad and far too early death,it occurred to me that many club members, especially newer ones, will not know Keith or be aware of his contribution to the Striders over many years. Due to Covid restrictions we won’t be able to give him the send off he deserves and because of his shyness and modesty it’s also a chance to share a bit more of Striders history too.
Keith took to running at school in Middlesbrough,combined with a serious and successful road cycling career, including with Cleveland Wheelers on Teeside.
When he came to Durham he ran with Durham City Harriers and later Chester le Street AC,riding the wave of the running boom in the early 1980s, including the emerging popularity of London Marathon and Great North Run .By the time he joined the Striders quite frankly he had done it all, including a sub 2.30 marathon, 6 and 12 stage relays, National Cross Country several times and all of the established track,road,fell and cross country races.
With that pedigree Keith,along with the likes of Dave Jenkins ( Sunderland) Mickey Page( Houghton le Spring AC), John Marshall and Barrie Evans ( Durham Harriers) was part of a small experienced group who trained with the Striders in the early days and passed on their experience of the running world ,helping to establish the Striders as a new club in the North East, while still competing seriously for other NE clubs.
Keith’s racing experience, advice on targeted training, his careful approach to injury management and peaking for specific races proved invaluable to all of us as we naively explored the running world by doing as many races as possible. His long Sunday runs and hill sessions around his home area of Esh and Cornsay were legendary.
Eventually Keith realised that he could run seriously and also have more fun so left Chester le Street to become a regular with the Striders,turning out for over 20 years at races,relays,Harrier League and the gamut of club events. He was also one of the many club members who gravitated to the Saturday morning runs on Waldridge Fell,where he became a key part of the social off road running there.
Together with his wife Gill he was also a regular at most social functions,parties,fancy dress runs and Christmas handicaps. There was a great deal of truth in the story that most of his costumes were directly from his current wardrobe!!
As a club member Keith was always reliable and committed,a creature of habit who did the races he knew and loved, dragging Gill and his family around the country, often disguised as holiday destinations or weekends away. For 20 years or so when the Calderdale Relay came round he would say ” Put me down for leg 6″ and he would guide his relay partner round, always saving energy for a fast last mile to overtake competing pairs and ensure we weren’t last!!
As an individual Keith often presented as a complaining, Victor Meldrew-like personality, known for a time as Grumpy of Esh,a title bestowed on him by Mudman and Mudwoman, Geoff and Susan Davies. For those who got to know him over the years he was a funny, kind, devoted family man who had a huge amount of detailed knowledge about running, athletics and cycling. If you ever did a long run with him you might also benefit from his more specialist subjects, including cars, aeroplanes,motorbikes ( anything with wheels and/or an engine), wartime airfields of Lincolnshire, Polish steam engines ,the journalistic skills of Suzannah Reid,or the well-hidden musical talents of the Pussycat Dolls.
Post- running on Wednesday nights, refuelled by a pint and his staple chips and gravy,apart from talking about the races coming up in the near future his regular lectures on how not to parent three teenage girls or how to prevent them from ever getting a boyfriend were legendary.
Keith made a significant contribution to the club, especially in the early days,then wearing the Striders vest in races for many years. He will be sadly missed by many friends in the club and our thoughts are with Gill and family after his sudden and unexpected death.
David Shipman, President – Elvet Striders August 2020