Manchester Mile Review by Mike Martineau

A big warm ‘welcome-back’ to the Manchester Mile


I can well imagine that in that great Olympic Stadium in the sky, both David Coleman and his all time athletics hero, Sydney Wooderson, are well pleased as they chew over recent developments in Manchester.  As former winners, they would both be delighted that Manchester H & AC have brought back the Manchester Mile and in memory of David who won the race in 1949.  Sydney was the first winner in 1943 and David was so proud to receive a trophy with his hero’s name on it that he admitted to me that he took it to bed with him that night.  The superb Harry Sharp Challenge Bowl had not been competed for since 1952 when it was given to Frank Evans who had won the race 3 times in succession, 1950, 1951 and 1952.  After his death his widow returned the trophy to Manchester Harriers and Wednesday 16th July at Sportcity in Manchester saw the return of this great event that used to take place at Fallowfield.


There were 103 entrants in 8 races for all ages and abilities with a great 5.01.59 performance from the host club’s Beth Barlow recently crowned under 15 Champion for 1500m at the English Schools.  It was great to see two members from David’s other club, Stockport Harriers, and their Louise Rudd, a V35, took the ladies honours with an excellent time of just 5.05.87.  Both Beth and Louise’s performances would have improved on the women’s World record in 1953.  The winner of the Bowl was Preston Harriers’ Chris Livesey who front ran for a very useful 4.19.79.


During the meeting we chatted about Sydney and whether as an amateur in 1943 he would have had to pay his own expenses to get to and from Manchester. Sydney, like me, was a past President of Blackheath Harriers and on 30 August this year we celebrate the centenary of his birth, so I was pleased to run in a Blackheath Harriers vest and delighted with the very warm reception for me and my PW (personal worst!).  All in all, it was a very worthwhile pilgrimage for me.


Well done Manchester H & AC, lets hope that after this superb rebirth, the event can be built into something great and enduring that is a fitting memorial for David Coleman and also for Sydney Wooderson.  Sydney enjoyed other trips to Fallowfield and in 1939 set a three quarters of a mile World record of 2.59.5 (I wonder whether David Coleman was there for this).  This also stood as a UK record until 1951 when Bannister, paced by Chataway, ran 2.56.6 at Motspur Park.


Mike Martineau

18 July 2014

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