An intriguing coincidence that links world and Olympic champion Mo Farah with the former Hucknall Mini-Marathon is just one of the revelations in a fascinating new book.
To find out exactly what the coincidence is, you will have to buy the book, which has been written by veteran athlete Kevin Archer, who spent his early days in Hucknall.
But Archer is sure that ‘Diary Memoirs Of A Veteran/Masters Athlete’ will interest anyone who competed in or followed the town’s flagship race, which coincided with the fun-running boom that sprang up in the 1970s and 1980s.
Archer himself, who is now 62, won the Hucknall Mini-Marathon, which took place, with the support of the town’s Rotary Club, until 1983.
The son of well-known ex-Hucknall character Fred Archer, who was a professional boxer, he later moved to live in Crook in County Durham before switching to the south and now lives in Weymouth, Dorset.
But his love of running and competitive athletics never deserted him, and his book encapsulates a prolific and successful career as a veteran in masters races that has taken him to all parts of the world. He even won a silver medal at the World Masters Championships in Puerto Rico in 2003 when finishing second in the 1500m final for athletes between the ages of 50 and 54
“The book was originally written in 2004 and was meant to be include my first ten years as a veteran for Crook and District Athletics Club, which culminated in my world silver medal,” Archer said.
“It’s only recently that I resurrected the project and realised that I needed to bring the story up to date for it to make any sense!”
Archer now has no fewer than seven British Masters titles to his name, with the latest coming in 2012 when he won the 1500m in the 55-to-59-year-old veterans’ category. Amazingly, he beat into second Barrie Moss, another former winner of the Hucknall Mini-Marathon.
He also landed a silver medal at the European Masters Championships of 2008 with a performance regarded as one of the best in his career. And he remains remarkably prominent in the world, European and UK rankings at 800m and 1500m, both outdoors and indoors, in his current age category (60-plus). For instance, over 1500m, he is number three in the UK outdoors and across the world indoors.
“I’ve had some excellent championship results since I left the Wear Valley,” he said. “The book also includes earlier material on local competition in Hucknall and Nottingham from the start of the running boom.
“There are some good stories about local rivalries, the coincidence about Mo Farah, links with some of running’s ‘national treasures’ and a bit of good humour thrown in too.
“The book also features contributions from Alan Bell, who was athletics’ chief starter at the London 2012 Olympic Games, World Cup football referee George Courtney, who hails from Durham, Max Coleby, who was the co-founder of the Great North Run, and Ian Bloomfield, a GB World Cup marathon competitor and British record holder in over-60 veteran races. There’s a cast of hundreds!”
Anyone interested in buying a copy of the book, priced just £5.50 (postage included), should e-mail Archer at firstname.lastname@example.org, ring him on 01305 830096 or write to him at 3 Lower Saint Edmund Street, Weymouth, Dorset, DT4 8AJ.
“The book is not being published, just printed with photos, some showing my gurning prowess!” added Archer. “It is only available from me, but I look forward to hearing from some of the old Hucknall and Nottingham ‘reprobates’, plus some younger pretenders too.”