Spotlight on... Tony Kendrick
Tell us a bit about your running history
I have run on and off since my 20s – so for about 60 years now! I ran my first half marathon in 1985 and my first London marathon in 1988 (they gave you a Mars bar in those days). I ran the London marathon every few years during the 90s and noughties for various medical charities, but I didn’t really get serious about running until I joined Halterworth Harriers in Romsey in 2008. I improved a lot by training regularly with them, losing loads of weight and getting my times down over two years, so nearly all my PBs were in 2010. I kept up regular running during three years in York from 2010 to 2013 with a big club up there, the Knavesmire Harriers (the Knavesmire is next to York racecourse, where they used to hang convicts in the Middle Ages, now they just torture southerners there).
How often do you train and what sessions do you do outside of the club?
I try and get out every Monday, Wednesday and Friday if I can, then go for a long run at the weekend. The coaching at Totton is great, just the right mixture of distances and speeds, which is what improves you over time. I find competitive runs are great training, so I enter quite a lot, at least one weekend a month on average.
What is your running highlight so far?
I suppose my highlight so far was running the so-called ‘big five marathon majors’ – London, Berlin, New York, Boston, and Chicago, with times between 3.29 and 3.39, in 2010 and 2011. I was lucky I could afford to travel to the big city marathons in the States, as well as a few European ones, but the marathon I enjoyed most was the Hull one which I managed in 3.26, though it doesn’t count as a PB because the organisers changed the route and it was 300 yards short apparently! Frustrating, but at least I have officially beaten 3.30, by two seconds, in New York in 2010.
When and how did you come to join Totton Running Club?
I returned from York in May, moving down to Lyndhurst. I found Totton RC on-line and was delighted to see they ran all over the New Forest, just near to where I was living. I knew they were a good club from my CC6 and RR10 days with Halterworth. I needed to get back to regular running having had a break from it last winter due to back and hip trouble, and putting back on some of the weight I’d lost through running. Thanks goodness the club is so welcoming – I’ve been made to feel really at home, in spite of being a bit heavy and slow. The club has really got me enjoying my running again these last six months, it’s a fantastic feeling to get that back.
Which is more satisfying... going for a training run or running a race?
They’re both satisfying in different ways. We had some sublime runs in the Forest in the summer, makes you glad to be alive, and the camaraderie is lovely. Running a race is fantastic (once it’s over) if you feel you’ve prepared properly and done yourself justice – I pulled out of the York marathon in October because I wasn’t fit enough and knew I’d feel dissatisfied if I was way off my PB.
What are your future running goals?
I would like to keep running into my 60s (not far away now….), and 70s and 80s if I can. Bits are dropping off, including my times, but I’d love it if I could keep my marathon time under 3.45 when I’m 60, which would be ‘good for age’. But even though I know I’ll get slower, I want to keep enjoying it, feeling fit and part of a good social group, which Totton certainly is.
Where do you like to run and have you anywhere particularly memorable?
Now I love to run in the Forest, we’re so lucky to live next to it. But I’ll never forget running over the Humber Bridge, when both ends were covered in mist and the middle seemed to be suspended in the clouds – magic! It knocks spots off the Golden Gate.
Do you have any other passionate interests?
I’m a Saints season ticket holder and try not to miss any home games. I think I’ve earned my Premier League tickets because we followed them oop north when they were in the Championship, at lovely places like Barnsley, Doncaster, Hull and Middlesbrough. I love skiing too, and try to go at least once a year. And I’m very passionate about my lovely wife Helen – we were married in June this year.
What's the most valuable piece of running advice you've ever been given?
Run the first half of a marathon slow enough to be able to chat to the runner next to you, even though it feels too slow. It took me about 12 marathons to really get that through my thick head, but once I did my times came down as I had negative splits, and some of my quickest miles were in the last six – which is a fantastic feeling!
Do you have any running experiences you'd care to forget?
Not really, though I’ve had some tough runs like everyone has. I lost the use of my right forearm due to horizontal hail during a 10k on the Pennines – I thought I’d had a stroke but it was just the cold (soft southerner), and one of my London marathons took five and a half hours as I had a cold and had to walk the second half, but looking back they were memorable experiences all the same. I know I didn’t really enjoy the Grim at Aldershot as my picture looked like one of those Gremlins, but afterwards I had a real glow of satisfaction that I’d done it.
What keeps you out of trouble Monday to Friday?
I am a retired GP, now concentrating on research into the treatment of mental health problems, at Southampton University medical school. We’ve done some research on the benefits of exercise for preventing depression – I’m sure it keeps me from being a miserable old bugger!
Finally, which other Totton Running Club member do you most admire?
So many, but particularly the coaches who turn out for us regularly whatever the weather and however they feel, I really appreciate that. And I admire the runners who are usually near the back with me, but keep going because they enjoy it whatever their times.