Alan Schofield

Our second Stac legend is the famous Alan Schofield. Chris Gill’s Mate . Alan first joined the club in 1984 and has remained a member to this day. He is married to the lovely Janet Schofield and has three children - Mary and George, who both run also, and William who lives in Australia. I was delighted to be able to ask him a few questions on his running career and his time as a Stac. Enjoy!

Not many new members know you. Can you tell us why and when you joined Stac?

I had been doing some running since around 1981 with some mates from the pub, it must have been after the first London Marathon when everyone started “jogging”. We entered the Garforth half marathon that year and with a few weeks training managed to finish in just over 1 1/2 hours. In 1982  we stepped up to do the Leeds marathon, no idea what we were doing, no organised training, no long runs, didn't know what to expect but found it was hard at the end. 

In 1983 we saw that there was a local fun run organised by STAC and we  entered on the day. The route went down to Billy’s Farm and the Marshall there should have turned us right up the field over the railway, I was in second place as we approached the Marshall (Adrian) who was stood reading his paper, the first man ran past him, then he looked up and saw me, by the time he had shouted the first man back I had gained a fortunate lead and I managed to win my first race and the massive prize of a box of fruit! 

I carried on entering races as an unattached runner and was still unattached when the STAC fun run came round again. I had to enter again to prove the first year wasn’t a fluke and managed to finish first again. It was at this point where I decided to join the club and try to do some proper training. I think it was the end of 84 or early 85 when I joined and my first run out with the boys was an eye opener. I think we did about 9 miles and most of my training runs weren’t much above 5 miles. Needless to say they killed me but I went back for more and am still here. 

Back in the day you achieved some great times. What drove you to achieve those times?

All my times are really a by-product of racing, there were a lot of good men running for the club in the early days, all sub 6 minute mile pace racers. By racing against these and people from other clubs you get to know who runs at what pace and if you were near them in a race you were doing okay. 

My approach to races was always to go out hard and try to keep the pace up, sometimes it worked and sometimes, depending on training or lack of, it didn’t work. Walter will tell you all about the time he caught me at the end of the York half. 

Chris and I never wore a watch ever in any race that we’ve done and I still don’t wear one very often. 

What has been your greatest running achievement? 

My greatest running achievement is just being able to run. As a child with bad asthma and before inhalers I had some bad attacks and was once hospitalised in Scarborough whilst on holiday and in an oxygen tent. Following that I got some proper treatment and inhalers. 

I only realised that I could run when I started at John Smeaton High School and in the games lesson we were sent on a cross country run and about half way I looked around and there was no one there. I was then put in the cross country team. I I turned up at Temple Newsam to a schools  race thinking  it would be easy until it started and then I realised there are a lot of good runners 😂

Training today is all very scientific and specific. What was training like in your day and what do you think of it now? 

When I first joined, we ran from the running track and it was basically a long run that seemed to get quicker as it went on. The run started at a pace that we could talk and normally laugh at either Tony Bulloughs or Paul Tennants work stories. You could always tell when it started to get harder as the group went quieter and quieter. That was really the only night we met, other training was left up to the  individual. 

So that was it on a Tuesday really 2-3 groups would set off for a run and come back an hour later, no planned route or pace, we just worked it out as we went along. This  stayed the same for years until Mike (Sellars) and Peter (Boyle) started to do a Thursday night training, which continues to this day. 

There was always a Sunday long run group which varied in size depending on if people were racing or hungover but it was a reasonably paced run for around 80-90 mins. 

We also started a Friday tea time meet, which was a steady 5-6 mile run out, meeting at my house. This was mainly to benefit me because I will admit I was a lazy runner and found it hard to run on my own for a long distance, but I knew if people were coming I had to do it. There are many times I was last minute home from work and always had to have a slice of toast and tea before I set off much to the annoyance of a few 😂

I am impressed by the structure the club has now and the work that goes on behind the scenes to organise sessions that cater for all abilities and I can see by recent results that this is definitely working for a lot of people. Long may this continue 👍🏻

Can  you tell us about the STAC  BBQ’s that used to be held each year? 

Ah the BBQs! We had had these social events for a few years at different venues. It used to be Adrian and Judy’s (the chairman at the time), we had it once at my house, they were a good social with a lot of drinking and many more stories than these. 

When Lynne (Fallon) joined the club and her and George bought the house next to the railway, we realised we had found our perfect venue. All we had to do was persuade her to host it, George took No persuading. 

At their house we could have loud music, Karaoke outdoors and the infamous box game and make as much noise as we liked without upsetting the neighbours. George and I used to do the cooking and I bought us both a chef’s hat. One year after too many beers I said to George why don’t we be the naked chefs, like Jamie Oliver and thought it would be a great idea if we took off all of our clothes apart from our aprons. Most people saw the funny side apart from Brian and Heather Bartle who left and I don’t think came to another one 😬

There are other stories normally ending in my disgrace (Chris can fill you in)!

Any funny running stories or stand out moments from a race that you would like to share with us all? 

I did turn up to the Brid half and realised I had no shorts and had to rush to a sports stall to buy some. 

We also did a race at Hazelwood castle and having failed to pay any attention to the pre-race brief, I hadn’t realised that at half way a young man who was the Marshall was supposed to mark your race number and turn you round, I was leading and ran straight past him taking a number of other runners with me until we got to the end of a lane and don’t know where to go, so we turned around and went back, race over. 

I have also been the victim of a drive by egging on a training night, when we used to run from Garforth sports centre. We had only done about half a mile and I felt a whack on the back of my calf. I completed the run but had a bruise like a bullseye on my calf. They must have been a good shot to hit my skinny legs from a  moving car 

You and Chris Gill are great friends but also great running rivals . You were closely matched for years in the club championships. Any funny stories about your friendly rivalry and what does it mean to have a great running friend like Chris?

I had been in the club a few years before we started training more together.  As I said before it was mainly to make me get out and do it and Chris would always turn up. If I was a bit late home from work on a Friday, he would be trotting around the kitchen while the kids had their tea. 

Racing was never funny and we barely passed the time of day during a race. Chris excelled up hills. I was the opposite but could run quick downhill. I also used to put off entering races until the last minute which I think drove Chris mad, so he became my race secretary, telling me what race I was running and when and how much I owed him. We have a shared interest of sport and horse racing and before getting Sky at home we used to go to the Manston to watch the Rhinos. 

We did both do a race that we have never been back to - the James Herriot half at Hawes. We had been told that there was a climb in the race and as the gun went off we found ourselves at the front and leading the race. We looked at each other and said this can’t be right, and it wasn’t. 

After 5 miles of undulations we came to a climb which wasn’t as bad as I imagined it would be, we then dropped down the other side and did a right turn to find the tarmac almost in my face as the road was so steep, “this was the climb!!!!”, I tried to keep running but people were walking up faster than my trot. It was definitely a never again race. 

Any advice you could give today to new runners that you have learnt from your many years hitting the tarmac? 

First and foremost, Enjoy!

Enjoy the breeze in your face

Enjoy the sun on your back

Enjoy the rain 

Enjoy the cold

Enjoy the fatigue 

Enjoy that post run feeling. 

Build things slowly, listen to your body, do what you want when you want, it’s not the end of the world to miss a training run. 

Don’t worry about a bad run, we’ve all had days when our legs don’t want to play. 

But to all of you, don’t obsess with the watch, try the freedom of a run without time and even try a race without it, run it as fast as you can and look forward to seeing the result, you may surprise yourself.