This was despite the continued advancements in scientific backup, training methods, equipment, full-time professionalism and sponsorship.
As a consequence, in the late 1990s, Gabrielle Collison decided to research the factors as to why this was happening and conducted interviews with some of the top British marathon runners from the previous era.
Interviewees include London Marathon winners: Hugh Jones, Mike Gratton, Veronique Marot and Joyce Smith; Olympic bronze medallist, Charlie Spedding; and several other “Big City” marathon winners.
The stories about their lifestyles and training make riveting reading, and it is certainly a must read for any aspiring marathon runner.
“…an unexpected gem and highly recommended.”
Jason Henderson, Athletics Weekly.
“Best read this year! Anyone who ran in the ’80’s needs to get this.”
Anthony Austin, Hercules Wimbledon AC & South London Harriers.
“One of the best running books I have ever read.”
“This is quite simply a brilliant book. Gabrielle Collison has really done her research and what comes out of the interviews is the fiercely competitive and at the same time overwhelmingly modest characters of the people running amazing times in marathons in the 1980s.”
Simon Freeman, www.simonfreeman.co.uk.
“I really loved this book…As someone involved in coaching athletes now, the insights from these past masters are fascinating and revealing. Their methods were often blindingly simple but clearly effective and their passion for the sport evident to all, a great read.”
“These interviewees are legends indeed and the author has done a brilliant job in putting this book together. Highly recommended for anyone with an interest in marathon running and who isn’t looking for yet another formulaic training plan.”
“Loving the book…a great read!”
Geoff Jerwood, Herne Hill Harriers.
“Excellent stuff…not just a very interesting read but useful for us coaches too.”
George Edwards, Swansea Harriers.
“Fascinating accounts of how serious marathon runners trained.”
“This is such an interesting book and it really sheds light on how training methods, diet, kit and the world of sponsorship and prize money has changed. I learned a lot from reading it and I would say that if you are a marathon geek you will love it.”
Kirsty Reade, Run247.
“…a fascinating insight: ultimately, they trained hard, ran with their peers and crested an unprecedented running boom that we’re unlikely to see again. This book is not just for aficionados – it’s for anyone who’s interested in marathon running.”
Running Fitness Magazine.
“I love the characters that come through, the sense of time and place. It’s as much a valuable historical account as it is full of fascinating bits and pieces and insights into mind, body and spirit. A common denominator for me is that life was a little simpler back then, not as many distractions perhaps.”
“A great book to pick up and read when you have little snatches of available time, though once you’ve picked it up you may find it hard to put back down.”
Roger Alsop, Belgrave Harriers, Herne Hill Harriers, Edinburgh AC & Salford Harriers & AC, www.rogeralsop.co.uk.
“A fascinating insight into what it takes to be competitive at the marathon distance. Moreover, it shines a light on an era in Britain that may be gone…when children walked to school, did cross-country and walked home; when men worked hard all day and still fitted in 2/3 running sessions!”