|Rob Hadgraft in Action|
Mr. Hadgraft is a prodigous author of 15 or is it 16 books on running and English football, of which I confess near total ignorance. His running subjects however are Alf Schubb, Walter George, and Arthur Newton, none of whom are household words in America, but their names do conjour up some long forgotten passages in books and postings we've made over the years.
Wooderson was able to crank out a WR 4:06.4 mile in 1937. He also held the WR in the 880 and 800 meters, and ran his fastest mile at 4:04.2 losing to Arne Anderson in 1945. The photos remind one of a Walter Mitty like character out of James Thurber's imagination. Mr. Hadgraft describes Sydney as wearing his NHS glasses. NHS is the English "National Health Service" and the spectacles seem to be what all Englishmen were issued up to the time of the Beatles. The difference however is Sydney Wooderson was real, and he was a tremendous competitor on the world scene. His career lasted until the early 1950s as he moved off the track and competed on the national level for his club the Blackheath Harriers. I love the reference to Blackheath athletes as the 'Heathens'. Were I an Englishman I would join this club if they would have me.
|Wooderson defeating Jack Lovelock|
Wooderson defeating Lovelock 1935 AAA meeting.
To aid his research Rob Hadgraft has taken a unique path. He is in his 60th year on the planet and has decided to look for sixty venues where Wooderson competed from his earliest days of running right to the end of his career. Fortunately for Rob, many of those sites can be found in Southeast England. He hopes to physically be present at those sixty sites within the year. That should require a little more than one site per week starting last November. You can scroll back to November on the blog to begin this odessey with Rob. Everyone of his pieces is original work, cleverly and humoursly written. In fact if you go back to the beginning of his blog in 2012, you will have a lot of reading to do. Drifting through the entries last night I found one piece which will be referred to without doubt on this blog concerning an English lady who may well have been the world's first female marathoner in 1926, one Violet Piercy. You will learn more about Violet at a later date or if you cannot wait, go to Rob's posting. Violet Piercy.