Dulwich Runners pride themselves on a strong marathon running tradition, writes Ruth Jones
A quiet drink between Malcolm Marrison and Ron Searle in Dulwich’s Clock House pub in 1980 sparked a plan to run in the first ever London Marathon the following year, leading to the early foundations of the Dulwich running club. The two running buddies recruited four more runners to join them and drew up a map of the group’s first four-mile run.
The early days
Dulwich Runners focused most of its energies into supporting those training for the London Marathon, and the event remains the focal point of the club’s racing calendar. Its women have performed particularly well over the years with GB international Alison Fletcher claiming the first V40 spot at the 2003 London Marathon, and fellow GB representative Meredith Pannett breaking the club record when winning the Chichester 10km in 33:58. However, there have been many notable male performances. Dave Beaver, who recently set the club M50 half-marathon record, was also second in the National junior cross country over 30 years ago.
Where they train
Tuesday sessions see up to 50 athletes of all abilities attending either Dulwich College track during the summer or Crystal Palace track during the winter. Wednesdays are set aside for group runs, where pace leaders take runners out in packs according to ability, with special attention given to any newcomers. Members also meet for long runs on Sundays.
Two resident coaches, Steve Wehrle and Steve Smythe, have been at the helm for more than two decades. They were recently joined by distance runner Elkie Mace, a member of the club for a number of years.
There has been particular success at masters level. Clare Elms, a W50, has set world age group records at 800m, 1500m and the mile, and is first in the UK for the marathon for 2015, having taken the W50 title at London this year. Club chair Ros Tabor has previously held the British W55 marathon record and set a British W65 400m record indoors this year when winning the European masters title, together with the 800m and 1500m in Grossetto.
Top veteran endurance athlete and coach, Steve Smythe, has run sub-three-hour marathons in five different decades, while fellow coach Wehrle is a London marathon ever-present. Despite not having a dedicated junior section, 15-year-old Lewis Laylee is fast-improving, and recently set a club senior mile record.
Dulwich host a Charity 10km every autumn, and the Runners’ Midsummer 5km in the Summer. More than 100 members participate in the annual club championship. There is a strong social side to the club, with post-run drinks a weekly occurrence in the clubhouse bar.
Number of members: 250
Fees: Competing members – £35, non-competing members – £23, U18s – £5. All members pay an extra £1 on Wednesday if training.
Main base: Edward Alleyn Club, 83- 85 Burbage Road, London, SE24 9HD
Club colours: Red with two blue horizontal loop stripes
Leagues: Surrey Cross Country League, Assembly league
Facebook page: Dulwich Runners
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