Mike Sellars

Mike Sellars was a STAC member for many years and some of the key parts of the club today were instigated by him such as the Thursday Training and the Beginners Course. 

Sadly Mike passed away in 2014. His long time friend Peter Boyle tells us about Mike.

How and when did Mike come to join STAC?

Mike joined STAC about 35 years ago because I was a member and he and I ran together regularly so it was a natural progression for him to join. Dave Sutcliffe (who provided the Mike Sellars trophy) joined at a similar time.

Understand the Thursday training started with Mike - how did that come about?

Mike coached cross country teams at Halton Middle School to a high standard, they won a national U13 competition. 

Believe that Mike and yourself were the first LiRF’s (run leaders) at STAC?

He was always keen to help others improve their running and so he decided to become a LIRF. As usual I tagged along ! A 2 day course in York  led to us becoming LIRFs. 

Some of the Thursday sessions and the jampot challenge still exist today, where did Mike get his inspiration from?

Mike was always looking to do different things with running. He organised a club fun competition at Easter which had competitors running to different bases to find different clues. He of course provided Easter eggs as prizes. This ran for quite a few years. 

Another of his ideas was to have a  club run that was different to the Tuesday night run. This was the beginning of Thursday night training which in its infancy took place on a Wednesday! The idea was that it wouldn't be 'just a run' but incorporate different types of running which could include all abilites. 

Many of the different sessions still take place; run round the lakes, Bullerthorpe hills, Colton Road hill sprints, sprints up parks in hills, Andrew's clover leaf. Who remembers duck and whistle? Typical Mike. He bought a duck whistle. Sprint to the duck, recover to the normal whistle. Great fun but hard work!

Mike led the first Beginners course STAC put on, can you tell us about it?

The first Beginners session grew out of Thursday nights. Mike realised there was a growing need to provide something for anybody who didn't see themselves as a runner but wanted to exercise, as well as anybody returning to running. Mike and Graham Shooter devised a course where the final aim was to run for 30 minutes. This proved to be very successful and has grown city wide. 

The Beginners and running group always met at the end of the evening for 'games.' Who remembers running with a bean bag on their head, passing a tennis ball from chin to chin, wheelbarrow races and more? For a celebration of finishing the beginners course Mike devised the jampot challenge. The prizes being Mike's homemade jam (which was delicious).

What was Mike like as a runner? And any funny stories?

Mike was not only a member of STAC he was, for many years, a member of Newquay runners! His annual holidays were spent in Newquay and so he joined them so he had someone to talk to whilst he was running. 

From a three mile training run to a marathon Mike never stopped talking. After 2 miles I never listened but he carried on talking!

Mike just enjoyed running but he always looked forward to the cross country league races. The Great North Run was a regular. In the early days you were guaranteed a place as long as your entry was on the form printed in the local paper. 

For many years we travelled by car to South Shields and caught the Metro back to the start. At the end we got changed in the car. Not Mike. One year he disappeared only to return 15 minutes later looking pristine. He'd only gone into the car showroom and asked to use their shower. He did this for many years and they always looked forward to his arrival! 

Mike was determined to run the GNR when he was 70. He'd been injured and couldn't train as well as he hoped but he finished in 2 hrs 15 min. which was brilliant and I know he was proud of that.

What do you think Mike would make of STAC today?

Mike certainly wouldn't recognise today's STAC. I think he would applaud much of the innovations, especially the TNT. I don't think he would have enjoyed much of the form filling and organisation which is now necessary for a large running club.

Mike’s memory in the club and local running community lives on. Each year a ‘Mike Sellars Dedication to training’ trophy is awarded, there is a tree near the parkun start at Temple Newsam planted in his honour and at races such as the Temple Newsam Ten and Leeds Half there’s regularly a ‘Mike’s watering hole’ water-stop that Simon Sherras and others put on.