EMILY MOSS hears from Ian Hud­sp­ith, a man who knows the Great North Run in­side out and is aim­ing to break an­other record

Athletics Weekly - - Feature -

THERE aren’t many ath­letes who can claim they have beaten Mo Farah, but one of the UK’s lead­ing M45 ath­letes – Ian Hud­sp­ith – achieved the feat at the Ree­bok Chal­lenge Cross Coun­try in Liver­pool in 2001 and has the pho­to­graph to prove it.

“How our paths since have dif­fered,” says Hud­sp­ith with a laugh.

How­ever, while his achieve­ments of the past 16 years may not quite match the lofty heights of Farah’s, the 46-year-old has much to be proud about.

He has rep­re­sented Great Bri­tain, bro­ken numer­ous Bri­tish mas­ters records, won the pres­ti­gious Blay­don 5.6-mile race in 2009 and, as a stal­wart of Mor­peth Har­ri­ers, has made a fine con­tri­bu­tion to club athletics over the past cou­ple of decades.

How­ever, it is per­haps for his achieve­ments in an event close to his home in the North East that Hud­sp­ith is best known. This week­end he takes to the start line in the Sim­ply­health Great North Run for the 11th con­sec­u­tive year, hav­ing fin­ished in­side the top 20 in all but one of his out­ings.

With Farah also toe­ing the line on Sun­day, Hud­sp­ith feels the Bri­tish half-marathon record-holder – who boasts a best of 59:22 from the Great North Run in 2015 – may well get the bet­ter of him this time round.

How­ever, hav­ing recorded just out­side 66 min­utes the last three years, Hud­sp­ith has the UK M45 record of 65:40 – set by Bill Venus back in 1986 – firmly on his mind. “It is def­i­nitely re­al­is­tic,” he in­sists. “I al­ways tar­get the Great North Run.”

If he were to achieve his goal, it would add to an im­pres­sive col­lec­tion of ac­co­lades, given that Hud­sp­ith is also the UK M45 record-holder for 10km road (30:15), 5km road (14:51) and 10,000m (30:38.08).

Self-coached these days, Hud­sp­ith does much of his train­ing on his own, but he has re­cently linked up with North East coach­ing guru Lind­say Dunn for ses­sions on a week­end.

“I usu­ally do two in­ter­val train­ing ses­sions, two longer runs – the long­est be­ing two hours (18 miles) on a Sun­day – and steady runs in be­tween, which comes to about 90-100 miles a week,” re­veals Hud­sp­ith. “I was orig­i­nally coached by

Jim Alder and then Lind­say Dunn, but I started train­ing on my own as I feel that, by the age of 35, you should know what train­ing works best for you.”

Hud­sp­ith is born and bred in the

North East and has lived there for much of his life, aside from a stint at Liver­pool Univer­sity in 1989 fol­lowed by four years liv­ing in En­field un­til 1997 – the year in which he won the UK 10,000m ti­tle.

He likes the en­vi­ron­ment for run­ning and lives in Wash­ing­ton, County Durham, on the River Wear and next to the Coast to Coast cy­clepath, where he can run off-road to Sun­der­land in one di­rec­tion and Ch­ester-le-Street in the other.

After re­turn­ing to New­cas­tle in 1997,

Hud­sp­ith trained with his brother Mark – 1994 Com­mon­wealth marathon bronze medal­list – and found him to be the per­fect train­ing part­ner.

“There was no ri­valry. We helped each other in races. Mark was two years older and stronger aer­o­bi­cally, whereas I was quicker, so we com­ple­mented each other well,” ex­plains Hud­sp­ith, head of maths and as­sis­tant prin­ci­pal at Ex­cel­sior Academy in New­cas­tle.

It was with Mark that Hud­sp­ith first got into run­ning as a 10-year-old.

He played foot­ball for New­cas­tle school­boys from un­der-11 to un­der-14 and was the year be­low Alan Shearer, be­fore mov­ing wholly into run­ning. Mark just runs to keep fit these days, but the


brothers speak fre­quently about train­ing.

“Mark has three boys, two of whom run for Mor­peth, so he comes to watch the lo­cal races,” says Hud­sp­ith. “He did a lot more miles than me and had a fam­ily, so I think they were the main rea­sons he stopped.”

So what is the se­cret of Hud­sp­ith’s suc­cess? “I have run 100 miles a week since I was 18 and I have had few in­juries,” he re­veals. “I am not mas­sively slower than at my best.

“I have al­ways trained sen­si­bly and now I pe­ri­odise my year so I refresh my­self after the au­tumn races which makes me rar­ing to go again in January and that is a big help.”

Al­though he has no de­sire to go back to the marathon – he ran 2:15:47 on his de­but in the 1999 Lon­don Marathon – Hud­sp­ith has no in­ten­tion of hang­ing up his run­ning shoes.

“I like the regime of train­ing and hav­ing a fo­cus,” he ex­plains. “I like the sat­is­fac­tion when you fin­ish an in­ter­val train­ing ses­sion and how a longer run clears your head and makes you feel alert. I just love run­ning.”

Ian Hud­sp­ith (sec­ond from left) tak­ing part in last year’s Great North Run

Ian Hud­sp­ith holds a num­ber of mas­ters records and, inset, can lay claim to hav­ing beaten Mo Farah

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