Down Memory Lane

Haydn Hedydd Davies leading after 3 laps in 1964 AAA 3000m


My time with Sale Harriers Manchester 1971-73

In 1971 we moved from Edgware in London to Hartford in Cheshire. We were there for two years. In that period, I was a lecturer in Inorganic Chemistry at Mid Cheshire College of Further Education at Hartford (2 miles from Northwich). Eiddwen my wife was a lecturer at Crewe College of Education. We were both members of Northwich Welsh Society

I joined my third English athletics club Sale Harriers which was on the Wythenshawe side of Manchester. Sale Harriers, just like my previous clubs Birchfield Harriers and Thames Valley Harriers was an outstanding club and competed in top class cross country, road races, road relays and athletics competitions. When I was in London, I was appointed a Southern Counties Staff Coach for the steeplechase event. I was also appointed as the Northern Counties Staff Coach for the steeplechase when I moved to Hartford.

Living in the North was a little different to my time in the Midlands and the South. Fell and mountain running was very popular in the North and I competed for Sale Harriers in the Three Peaks race and Chevy Chase race. I was good at running up hill but very poor coming down as I was up against mountain running specialists who could fly downhill as if they were mountain goats. When I came back to Carmarthen in 1979, I did find my Northern mountain running experience some help as in 1980 I won the Sarn Helen sixteen and half mile race, Ras Beca and was first veteran in the Snowdon race.

In 1975 when we were on holiday in America, I competed in the Pikes Peak marathon race. This race stated at 7am in the morning in Colorado Springs at a height 6,800ft and then up all the way to the summit at 14,010ft. The first part of the run was through the forest and then on to the bare rock at 10,000ft. The day before the race I had travelled from New York to Colorado Springs and therefore had no time to acclimatize.

After a slow start I steadily ran through the field to arrive at the summit in seventh place. It was difficult running back down and my lack of downhill running experience showed as I was passed by several runners to finish in 21st place in 4 .19 hours. It was one of my hardest races and certainly was an experience. I suffered afterwards from a sunburned neck and shoulders.

Sale Harriers like Birchfield and Thames Valley Harriers took part in events throughout the year. In the winter I competed in all the Manchester and District League cross country races, the Midlands cross country championships and the English National cross country championships. I competed also in the Welsh cross country championships and for West Wales in the UK inter county cross championships.

Sale Harriers also was a very organized club run by dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers. On two occasions the Club organized two attempts at breaking the 24 hour 10 man world relay track record. The attempt started at 12 noon on the Saturday and finish at 12 noon on the Sunday. On the first attempt we went off a bit too fast averaging 4.40 each for the first few miles. We only had about 50 minutes rest between each run and every one of us had to run about 20 + fast miles in 24 hours. The period between midnight and six am in the morning was tough going. The pace dropped considerably, and it was difficult to run 5.10 miles. This is when club team spirit helped, and we all felt better at day break. If my memory is correct, we came very close to breaking the world record at our second attempt.

Again, a tremendous example of team organization and team work            

When I was with Thames Valley Harriers in London, we took part in a similar team event. This time it was a 100 x 1 mile race. I can remember the Valley having a strong team out with several British international distance runners in the team. Another fine example of club comradeship which is what club athletics should be. Also, an example of close team spirit was the numerous road relay events we took part each spring. The two big ones were the Manchester to Blackpool Road Relay and the National London to Brighton Road Relay. Both races were 12 stage events. The first six teams in the Northern Manchester to Blackpool relay race qualified to compete in the National London to Brighton Road Relay.

On two occasions I was on the opening stage out of Manchester. The 12th stage was the 7 mile run to the finish at Blackpool Tower. The whole team would stay the night in Blackpool. There would be tremendous competition amongst the team members for places in these relay teams.  I had the honour of making all these teams. We travelled down to London on the Saturday with the race starting the following day from Westminster. On one occasion I was second fastest on the second stage. The team coaches would all follow the race dropping runners off at the appropriate take over point. It was a great spectacle and a wonderful experience with a total of 20 club teams, (6 from the South, 6 from the Midlands, 6 from the North and two from Scotland) battling it out to reach the finish line at Brighton.

Sadly, increasing road traffic and on the advice of the police these classic road relay races came to an end and the qualifying Area road and the National event were transferred to closed road venues. I remember in 1973 running the first stage for Sale Harriers in the National Road relay final in Sutton Park Birmingham and then running again for Sale the following day in the 22 mile Three Peaks race and helping Sale to finish second in the team race.

We trained hard and we raced hard. I would every day go out early for a run in the morning and after college work in the evening. Long runs were done in the beautiful Delamare Forest which was nearby. The summer time was also a period competing for Sale Harriers in the British Athletics League matches and Welsh Championships and road races.

I was only two years with Sale Harriers, but it was an experience not to be missed. It was a great club to be a member of. It was a very well organized Club with great spirit on and off the track. Excellent Club Dinners organized by volunteers. I was a proud winner of a few of their club championships and extremely grateful for the help and support I had from the Robertshaws. In 1973 I moved back to London when I was appointed an assistant education officer with the London of Hillingdon (Boris Johnson’s constituency now)

Sale Harriers gave me a beautifully engraved stop watch on my departure.

It reminds me of my two happy years with the Club.

Hedydd Davies

26 February 2021

More Information below:-


Hedydd Davies’s Road Running career


Every boy’s dream is to represent Wales

In my secondary school Queen Elizabeth Grammar School for Boys Carmarthen (1951-58) I took part in all athletics events - sprints, hurdles, 880 yards, one mile, cross country, long jump, hop step and jump, high jump, pole vault, shot and javelin, but was not outstanding at any of the events.

I represented the school every year in various events in the annual Carmarthenshire secondary schools championships, which were usually held in the Carmarthen Town Park or at Ammanford Grammar School playing Field.

No matter how hard I tried I only managed once to qualify to compete for Carmarthenshire secondary schools in the Welsh secondary schools national athletics championships and that was in my final year at school in 1958 when I ran for Carmarthenshire in the mile in Llanrumney. There I came sixth with a time 4.39.

In 1955 I helped to form a cross country club at school. We entered the Welsh boys cross country championships in Caerleon in 1956 and the school came second in the team race and on a snow covered course I managed to hang on up the final hill to finish second in the individual boys race. In 1957 and 1958 the Welsh boys and youths cross country championships were organised by the Carmarthen Harriers chairman Ron Evans in Carmarthen Park. The Carmarthen Gram Youths team, which I was captain won both youths team championships with John Williams the winner of the 1958 youths race. In the same year John, whilst still at the Gram competed for Wales in the 880 yards in Cardiff in the British Empire and Commonwealth Games.

I have two highlights of my athletics career in the Gram in Carmarthen.

  • In 1955 I managed at 15 years of age to win the School Open Mile in a new record time of 5 minutes 17.0 seconds. For a whole year I had aimed to win that event and the day after I could hardly walk.
  • In April 1958 Ron Evans took me up to London to run in the 1500m steeplechase in the LAC Schools meeting at the White City. I had never run a steeplechase before but had been on Geoff Dyson 1958 New Year young athletes course in Motspur Park Surrey where there had been a steeplechase demonstration by two steeplechase Olympians (Chris Brasher 1956 Melbourne Olympic 3000m steeplechase gold medalist and John Disley Welsh record holder and 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games 3000m steeplechase bronze medalist).

I had never raced on a cinder track before but managed to win the 1500m steeplechase heat in 4.35.2. The final was to be held the following afternoon. However, Ron Evans in the morning before the race final had decided to show us boys some of the sights of London. This was not ideal preparation for a big race and in the final, I only managed to finish fifth with a time 4.36.2.

Competed many times since at the White City and there was always a big crowd at all the events there. In 1965 I ran in the AAA 3000m steeplechase which preceded the 3 mile race in which the great Australian multi world record holder Ron Clarke broke the 13 minute barrier with a time of 12.50.4. I also ran in a steeplechase in Halsingborg Sweden which was immediately followed by the 3000m where the Kenyan Olympic champion Kip Keino broke the world record with a time 7.39.6.

This experience of my first steeplechase in London in 1958 convinced me that with proper training I could become a good steeplechaser. Later that year in 1958 I won the Welsh junior one mile steeplechase championship at Maindy Stadium Cardiff with a time of 5.06.2.

In the period 1961 to 1979 I was a member of three great English athletics clubs (Birchfield Harriers Birmingham 1961-1966; Thames Valley Harriers London 1966-71 and 1973-79; Sale Harriers Manchester 1971-79).

All three clubs were very strong in cross country, road running and athletics and competed in events every weekend of the year. As an all round athlete I too was involved with the Club throughout the year.

I have no doubt that any success I have achieved in my athletics career is due entirely to the experience of being a member of three excellent English athletics clubs.

In the period 1958 to 1964 I was a student at Birmingham University and a member of Birchfield Harriers (1961-66).

In that period, I took part in all track events, indoor middle distance events , cross country, road relay races going but specialized in the steeplechase in the summer and recorded the following success in the steeplechase event;-

4 Welsh 3000m steeplechase championship wins (1961-64)

2 British Universities 3000m steeplechase championships

2 English Universities 3000m steeplechase championships

Won Oxford Univ v Cambridge University 3000m steeplechase

Represented AAA in the 3000m steeplechase in three matches against Oxford University, London University and Cambridge University

Represented Midlands Counties in the steeplechase in two matches against Southern Counties, Northern Counties and Loughborough Colleges

Represented Wales several times in the 3000m steeplechase

Second in the 3000m steeplechase in the final 1964 Olympic Games trials race in Portsmouth.

2 UK veteran 3000m steeplechase championships

Third in the World veteran 3000m steeplechase in Christchurch New Zealand in 1981

Fourth in the European veteran 3000m steeplechase championship in Strasbourg France in 1981

Best time for the 3000m steeplechase was 8.54.6 when I competed for the Midlands Counties in the match with the Northern Counties and the Southern Counties at Aldersley Stadium Wolverhampton in June 1964.

In my time with Birchfield Harriers, Thames Valley Harriers and Sale Harriers I would regularly turn out for the Clubs in British League and Trophy track meetings. Most times it would be the steeplechase but also other track events when required.

My best time for 3 miles was 14.12 (Welsh Games), 5000m 14.41 (Helsinki) and 10000m 30.50.4 (Crystal Palace) a day after winning the TVH seven and half mile cross country championship.

Indoor running

When I was at Birmingham University, I competed a lot in the winter in the Wednesday meetings at RAF Cosford. Initially it was an eleven lap to a mile concrete track. It suited my type of racing – sprint the straights and jog the bends.

  • The highlight of my indoor career when I was chosen to run in the two miles at Wembley indoor stadium for a combined England/Wales team against a N Ireland/Scotland team. If my memory is correct, I ran with Derek Ibbotson against Derek Graham and Fergus Murray.

Cross country running


I always enjoyed the sport of cross country running. It was great being part of well organised club team. In my 21 years in England, I was proud to be member of three excellent cross country Clubs Birchfield Harriers, Thames Valley Harriers and Sale Harriers. All three clubs had and still have a great cross country running and road running record and tradition.

I competed for the Clubs in pretty well all the League cross country races Birmingham and District, London Metropolitan and Manchester and District) as well as the Club cross country championships. Holder of Birchfield Harriers W Alexander gold medals as well as a number of TVH 7 mile and ten mile gold medal championship medals.

I believed the cross country racing in the winter helped me to build stamina for the track and road running events in the spring and summer.

Cross country running record


  • Welsh senior championships 1 1966 (Gilwern); 2 1964 (Penlan Swansea); 3 1965 (Caerleon)


  • Competed for Wales 6 times the World ICCU cross country championship San Sebastian Spain, Dublin; Ostend; Rabat Morocco; Tunis Tunisia; Barry Wales.


  • Competed for Wales three times in the Brussels international cross country race.


  • Competed many times in the Midland, Southern or Northern senior cross country championships


  • Competed many times for Club in the English National cross country championships and finished 32nd, 34th and 38th on three occasions.


My best ever cross country races were


  • November 1964 finishing third in the Birmingham and District cross country league cross country race at Perry Barr Birmingham, I had lead all the way in the race and was only passed in the last one hundred yards by Roy Fowler (1962 World ICCU cross country champion in San Sebastian) and his club mate Don Shelley.


  • Winning the Welsh senior cross country in 1966 at Gilwern by 45 seconds.

Road Relay Races

In England every year in September (before the cross country season) and in April (after the end of the cross country season and before the start of the athletics track season) it would the time of road relay races.

I was very fortunate to be member of three great clubs that took part in all the local and national road relay races. It was possible in the 1960’s and 1970’s to hold these events on the road as the road traffic was not a problem as it is now.

We would always aim to get our strongest possible team out and competition was always fierce to make the team , certainly when it came to the National Road relay (London to Brighton in the 1960’s and later on at Leicester and then Sutton Park Sutton Coldfield.)

I always hoped that I would be chosen to run the first leg as it always guaranteed a fast time.

List of road relay races competed in

Hyde Park Relay

University College Relay

Harborne road relay

Tipton Road Relay

Livingstone Road Relay

Manchester to Blackpool Relay

Southern Road Relay at Wimbledon              

Northern Road Relay in Heaton Park

TVH Relay

Maidenhead Road relay

Reading to Portsmouth Road relay

A wonderful experience of being a member of a successful club team.

Highlight of the Road relay season

The national London to Brighton relay race was always the climax of the road relay season in the early 1960’s. I ran for Birchfield Harriers in this relay in the years between 1962 and 1966.

Clubs qualified from the area qualifying race, six each from the Midlands, six each from the North and six team teams from the South. The London to Brighton relay race final was a twelve stage event and been going for many years until the police decided it was no longer safe to organise

The Relay would start from Big Ben in Westminster and many of the teams had stayed in London the night before. The runners were accommodated in the club coaches and were dropped off in turn at the various stage points. A convey of team coaches would then travel all the way from London to Brighton. What a sight and what an experience.

There was many a battle fought out on the Brighton Road race stages and the aim of every club was to be first team to finish in Brighton.

One year I was second fastest on the second stage and later on I wrote a booklet for Birchfield Harriers on the record of the Club in the London to Brighton Road relay race.

The national road relay final moved later to Leicester and then for the last 45 or so years has been held in Sutton Park Birmingham which is a traffic free course.

Mountain and Fell running career

Sale Harriers had a very strong fell and mountain running section. I enjoyed running in fell races. I was good at running uphill but useless running downhill. I was often beaten by ordinary runners who were experienced fell runners and were able to race like mountain goats flat out downhill. It was a wonderful experience to run in the fresh air of the mountains.

Took part in the following races

Three Peaks 22mile race (Ingleborough, Penygent and Whernside. Ran the day after running the first stage of the national road relay in Sutton Park Birmingham.

Chevy Chase 18 mile race

Snowdon 10 mile race

Sarn Helen 16 mile Lampeter race (first in 1981)

Ras Beca 5 mile race Crosswell Pembrokeshire (first in 1981)

Pikes Peak marathon race in Colorado Springs USA in 1975 (only arrived at race venue the night before)

Race started at a height of 6,800ft and then climbed to the top at 14,100ft. Had a good run to be sixth at the top but lost ground on the downhill section to finish twenty first (4.42.12).Rick Trujillo the winner in 3.31.05 lived at an altitude of 9000ft.

Road Running career

The 1952 Olympic Games were held in Helsinki Finland. I remember listening on the wireless to the commentary by Alun Williams on the finish of the marathon.

“And into the stadium comes an athlete with number 903 on his red vest. He has already won the 10,000m and 5000m.It is the great Czech athlete, Emil Zatopek.”

This was the start of my interest in long distance running and the marathon event in particular.

At the age of 16 I had tried to run the marathon distance from my home on the family farm in Abergwili Road Carmarthen to Llandeilo and back. My younger brother Glyn paced me on his bike. Everything went fine until on the way back at the nineteen mile point in Nantgaredig I ran out of steam and came to a stop and had to walk all the way home in the dark.

The seeds were sown, and I was determined to become a success at the marathon and other long distance running races after the end of my serious track career.

Whilst in England I competed in very many road running races at various distances – 10 miles, half marathon, fifteen miles, twenty miles, marathon, thirty miles, 50K (on the track) and fifty-two and half miles (London to Brighton ).

  • I am pleased to have been able to win the Welsh marathon on four occasions Port Talbot 1966, Cwmbran 1969, Carmarthen 1970 and Port Talbot in 1972.


  • Competed for Wales in Edinburgh in the 1970 Commonwealth Games marathon


  • As a veteran finished third overall in the first Cardiff marathon in 1981.


  • First runner of the TVH 1966 and 1968 London to Brighton 52.5 mile gold medal winning team.


  • Won by 9 minutes the 1968 Isle of Man TT course 39.5mile.


Short distance road races


Competed in many including the first Nos Galan 4 mile road race in Mountain Ash in 1959 (also the 1 mile race that day won by Bruce Tulloh).Finchley 5, Shrewsbury’s New Year’s Eve 4 mile race, 1964 Nantymoel 5 and Club championship and Christmas Handicap races.

Ten mile road races

In England this was the standard road race distance.

Competed in the following 10 mile races

Bridgenorth 10

Bracknell 10

Stevenage 10 (fastest time ever 49.38)

Maidenhead 1o

Barnet 10 (under 50.20 3 times)

Longwood 10 (third behind Ron Hill and Mike Baxter)

Derwentwater 10

Half marathon


Luton half marathon several times (fastest time ever of 67.10)

World veterans 25K road championship January 1981 in Palmerston North New Zealand (7th and 6th in 10K)

Fifteen mile road race

Morpeth to Newcastle New Year’s Day 14 Road Race (fourth in 1970)

Mitcham 15 in January every year (ran race many times)

Cardiff Lake 15

Twenty mile road race

Finchley 20 (raced many times with times of 1.44.36, 1.45.24 and 1.47.00)

Pembroke 20 in Liverpool in 1963.

Ran in the lead with Ron Hill (d) , left him at 10 miles and was only caught by him on the fourth and final lap.

Also, in 1963 had beaten Ron in two track 3 mile races – in a match at Birmingham University between the University and Ron’s Manchester University and the UAU championships at Loughborough.

Marathon and ultra distance races

I have not kept a detailed record of my 1000 or so races at different distances and terrain.

In this section I want to thank Mick McGeoch for his invaluable assistance in providing me with results of my many races which have long disappeared from memory. This is why one should always keep a detailed record of one’s achievements. Even Wales’s First Minister Mark Drakeford. an old Carmarthen Gram boy does not keep a personal diary.







Winner (Club Time


16 July 1966

Port Talbot (Welsh)





10 June 1967

Windsor – Chiswick

Poly marathon



Fergus Murray 2.19.06          Oxford University


12 August 1967






15 June 1968

Windsor – Chiswick



Kenji Kimihara (Japan) 2.15.15


27 July 1968

Cwmbran (AAA and Welsh)

29        5 Welsh


Tim Johnson (Portsmouth) 2.15.26


14 June 1969

Windsor – Chiswick



Phil Hampton Royal Navy 2.25.22


28 June 1969

Cwmbran (Welsh)





20 July 1969

Manchester (Maxol)



Ron Hill (d) (Bolton) 2.13.42


30 March 1970




Leo Carroll Wirral 2.13.07 (880y short)


23 July 1970

Edinburgh (commonwealth Games)



Ron Hill (d) England 2.09.28


29 August 1970

Carmarthen Welsh





13 June 1971

Manchester (Maxol)



Ron Hill (d) 2.12.39


14 August 1971

Port Talbot (Welsh)



Bernie Plain 2.21.00


4 June 1972

Manchester (Maxol)



Lutz Phillip W Germany


12 August 1972

Port Talbot ( Welsh)





19 May 1973

Maasluis NED



Jeff Norman Altringham 2.18.13


27 October 1973

Harlow AAA



Ian Thompson Luton 2.12.00


15 June 1974

Windsor – Chiswick



Akio Usami Japan 2.15.16


May 1975




Ko van der Weiden 2.27.17


19 July 1975

Cwmbran Welsh



Bob Sercombe Newport 2.22.02


25 October 1975




Sandy Keith Edinburgh 2.16.12


10 April 1976

Maasluis NED



Joe Keating Ealing 2.22.47


17 July 1977

Cwmbran Welsh



Bob Sercombe Newport 2.21.43


16 April 1977

Maasluis NED



Cor Vriend NED 2.21.40


3 September 1978




Dave Francis Westbury 2.19.28


28 October 1978




Paul Eales Windsor S&E 2.16.39


16 August 1980

Newport Welsh



Norman Wilson TVH 2.24.06


14 September 1980

Glasgow Welsh team



Jim Dingwall Scotland 2.16.07


14 January 1981

Christchurch NZ

World Vets


Renato de Palmas ITA 2.19.34


May 1981






20 September 1981

Cardiff Western Mail



Bernie Plain Cardiff 2.23.40


June 1981

Bristol NALGO



October 1981




2 Steve Brace 2.51.18


August 1982

Strasbourg France

European Vets





16 May 1982

Neath Welsh



Mickey Crowell Bridgend 2.21.36


26 September 1982

Cardiff Western Mail



Bernie Plain Cardiff 2.23.40


October 1982




4 September 1983

Neath Welsh



Martin Summers Plymouth 2.49.41


March 1983






September 1984

Cardiff Western Mail





June 1984

Coventry AAA










Ultra Distance




SLH 30





7 September 1968

SLH 30



John Newsome Wakefield 2.50.59


3 June 1968

Isle of Man 39.5 mile



2 Jock Anderson Croydon 4.28.21


25 June 1977

Uxbridge 50K



Don Ritchie Forres 2.51.42


24 September 1966

London to Brighton 52 mile



Bernard Gomersall Leeds HH 5.32.50



London to Brighton 52.5 mile



John Tarrant Salford 5.37.27





Highlight of ultra distance running career

Winning the Isle of Man 39.5 mile TT course race in 4.17.36.

Programme of events May/June 1968

  • Wednesday 30 May 1968 ran with Tim Johnson(d) in the 3000m steeplechase for the AAA against London University in the match at Motspur Park Surrey.


  • Saturday 2 June1968 travelled by train and boat from London to Douglas Isle of Man.


  • Sunday 3 June 1968 competed in the Isle of Man 39.5 mile TT road race. Took the lead at 26 miles and finished the race first on the promenade in Douglas 7 minutes ahead of the second athlete. Suffered in the last two miles.


  • Monday 4 June 1968 travelled to Carmarthen with my laurel wreath and small winner’s cup. No expenses.


  • Saturday 8 June 1968 competed for Wales in the 3000m steeplechase in the British Isles Cup match in Grangemouth Scotland.


  • Saturday 15 June 1968 ran in the Windsor- Chiswick marathon and finished first in the TVH Club marathon championship.



I have now realised, on reflection that I would have been a much better long distance runner if I had been a full time professional athlete, training 100 – 120 miles a week in a group with other good quality runners.

Sport is not everything. Life is a balance between sport, work, family life and outside interests .

I would not have had a fairly long athletics career but for the fact that I lived in England for 21 years and was a member of three excellent English clubs and took part throughout the year in one form of competitive athletics or other. To be a member of strong club teams gave me the incentive to support the club in its many and varied team competitions.

I would love to be active master competitor now but severe arthritis in my right hip put an end to my athletics career in 1987.

My early retirement enabled me to spend more time as a coach (level 4 steeplechase, middle distance and marathon and former Southern and Northern Counties staff steeplechase coach) and administrator, event organiser and team manager with Carmarthen Harriers, Dyfed Schools and West Wales in the last forty or so years.

Hedydd Davies 27 December 2021