STILL COMING BACK FOR MORE
EMILY MOSS hears from Ian Hudspith, a man who knows the Great North Run inside out and is aiming to break another record
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
“I LIKE THE REGIME OF TRAINING AND HAVING A FOCUS. I LIKE THE SATISFACTION FROM FINISHING A SESSION”
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