Steeple Bumpstead

JUNE 2016: David Hull has regularly signed up to RunBrighton membership for our summer & winter training, going back to when we originally formed in 2010. And, at 68, he is currently the oldest runner in the group.

No matter how much jip his knees give him, he is always to be seen running with a beaming smile on his face.

And whenever other runners around him find themselves struggling, David will put his own goals aside and ensure they make it to the end of that particular training session or race.

With his ‘three score years and ten’ not too far away, how does he continue to maintain such enthusiasm and find the energy to keep on marathon-running?

David, have you always been sporty? What did you do to keep fit in your younger years?

I wouldn’t say I have always been sporty. Certainly never a runner.  I was a good competitive cyclist – time trialling when it was more like team orienteering than the pointy-hat quick stuff of today.  But the first gym I ever joined was in 2010.  I remember the induction session when the trainer asked each of the new members to say what their training goals were.  “Lose weight”, “Get a 6 pack”, “Improve my general fitness”.  Then me, “Run a marathon at age 62”, greeted by the trainer with “No, seriously, what are your goals?”

What prompted you to get into running?

Well, as I said before, this was in 2010.  I lived on the Brighton marathon route and watched it from my balcony with my family.  Fuelled by red wine, I heard myself saying “I could do that”.  Equally wined up, my elder daughter said we should do it together.  And that was it – I was on the hook. 5 marathons and 5 half marathons all down to red wine.

In point of fact, my daughter has never done a marathon with me. Injuries, marriage and pregnancies being her excuses.  But I still have hope that we will do at least a half together sometime.

What would you say has been your greatest running achievement to date?

I’m proud of breaking 2hrs for the half this year, and my marathon PB of 4hrs24mins in 2014.  But I think I’m proudest of actually finishing the Brighton Marathon in 2015.  My knee gave out at 30k and I was so close to stopping.  I walked for 2k, in tears, but did then manage to restart and still did 4hrs34.

And what has enticed you to repeatedly sign up to training with RunBrighton?

I’ve been with RunBrighton from its very first run in 2010.  The reason I joined was because I knew that I simply would not do the training on my own.  OK, the mid-week 5ks in Summer, but the 20ks in January?  For me, it would be too easy to opt for a lie-in and a full English.  So that’s why I started.  Why do I keep coming back?  Well, apart from to annoy Brigitte Groves, it’s because I love the community.  My best friends ever have come from the RunBrighton group.  There’s a great sense of fun and mutual support about it.  Of course, that would mean nothing if the training itself was not effective and well organised.  And, thanks to you Mike (and your team), the training is very effective and very well organised.

So, what do you do when you’re not running? Are you retired?

Well, I did officially retire in 2008, and that was fine.  Plenty of time for everything I wanted to do.  But, by last year, I was beginning to get a bit bored.  I made the mistake of telling that to a friend (who I met via RunBrighton) who has a portfolio of flats in Brighton.  In the blink of an eye I found myself recruited into his business.  My role is as mixed as any I’ve ever had.  One day I’m painting a flat ahead of new tenants, the next I’m sitting down with lawyers discussing some element of the Landlord and Tenant Act.  It’s fascinating!

I understand you have young grandchildren. Are they too young yet to have shown any signs of interest in running?

Yes, I have 4 grandchildren ranging from 2 to 4 years old.  The two eldest are hugely interested in running – but the interest seems to fade after about 100 metres, in favour of piggy-backs from Grandad.

Last year, the whole family ran the 3k fun run at the Steeple Bumpstead sports day in Essex, organised by my younger daughter.  I’m proud to report that we came in second from last!

Originally, she and I were going to do the 10k race.  Being a loving daughter, she was keen to big up my running ability to her fellow committee members.  Unfortunately, that got around and the local running club members thought some Mo Farah type was being bussed in to steal their thunder.  After our 3k performance, they now know the truth of it!

Anyway, my younger daughter and I are doing the 10k at this year’s sports day.  My job is to get her round in under an hour.

And other than Steeple Bumpstead, what’s your next running goal?

I’d still like to do another marathon – I’ve signed up for Brighton again.  Realistically, though, my knees could limit my ambitions.  If so, I’d like to think that I will be able to do a decent sub-50mins 10k and maybe a sub-1hr55 half.

Based on your own experiences, what tips would you give anyone new to distance running, for example to any of the first-timers with RunBrighton this summer?

Well, firstly, I believe for distance running you need all the help you can get.   So get decent kit, especially shoes. (Use your RunBrighton discounts folks!)  Get niggles sorted straight away – find yourself a good physiotherapist. And record your progress.  You’ll be surprised how motivating it is to see that you can run x kilometres, whereas only a few weeks ago you could only do half that.

The RunBrighton runs are fantastic but I would say, especially to newbies, recognise that the long Sunday runs are only a part of the training.  The shorter sessions (tempo runs, intervals, etc) are vital.

But mainly I would say, “Enjoy”.  Enjoy the community, commit to attending every single Sunday run and make it, in your head, a morning out with friends rather than a training slog.

David, great to chat, and thanks for sharing your running tips. Good luck to you and your daughter in the forthcoming Steeple Bumpstead 10k, and we look forward to seeing you out on RunBrighton’s Sunday runs again this summer.

You can sign up for RunBrighton Summer 2016 membership at http://runbrighton.com/membership/

By Mike Bannister