Pacers’ pair Allard and Price receive deserved accolades after 70 years of service
- Credit: Archant
Saint Edmund Pacers running club have recognised the achievements of stalwart members Rod Allard and Robert Price, with a special presentation made by former Chicago Marathon winner, Paul Evans.
Super veterans Allard and Price have been involved with the Bury St Edmunds-based club for a combined total of 70 years.
They have spent most of those years training together, and have gone on to become a driving force behind the day-to-day running of the club.
Allard, who first became a member back in 1981, just a couple of years after the club was founded, has been the current treasurer for the last 12 years, and was the club secretary for several years previously.
Price, meanwhile, who celebrated his 73rd birthday on Tuesday, was actually one of the founder members of the Pacers, in 1979.
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“I was gobsmacked by the whole evening,” explained Allard, with reference to the special presentation at Horringer Community Centre last Friday evening.
Both Allard and Price had assumed that it was just the normal annual event, where a big group of Pacers (numbering more than 80) were to meet up, go on a training run in nearby Ickworth Park, and then share a fish-and-chips supper.
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Allard continued: “I had no idea at all that anything like this was going to happen, and nor had Robert.
“Obviously my wife, Carol, knew all about it, but it was kept as a very good secret.
“The first inkling I had was when Kim Swan (event organiser) told me that he needed me to seat in the front row.
“It was a huge surprise, and it was great that Paul Evans turned up to make the presentations.
“The picture frame is so huge that we haven’t got a wall big enough to hang it from!” joked Allard.
Allard, 73, has totalled an impressive 43 marathons during his career, at an equally impressive average time of 3hrs 08mins.
He recalls his first one. “That was at Bungay, in 1982,” explained Allard.
“I had entered the half-marathon, but in those days the (marathon) event was a two-lapper, which you could carry on to do, if you fancied.
“I shouldn’t really have done it, but I went on to do the second lap and so finished my first marathon.”
Allard’s personal best for the marathon is a swift 2.50.16 from London (1991), but he has completed the 26.2-mile challenge all over the world, in cities like New York, Dublin, Athens and Berlin, and at glamorous locations like Barbados, Florida and Majorca.
Back in November, 2009, he also achieved the notable feat of completing 40,000 miles in training and racing.
Price, meanwhile, is a past chairman of the club, and is now a vice-president. Like Allard, he remains a key member of the club committee.
“It was me who put all of the club’s rules and regulations together,” explained Price.
“I’ve been very proud of what the club has achieved, over the years, especially the organisation of old club races like the Bury 10 and the Bury 20 (first established in 1985).
“I’ve often thought about calling it a day, but I couldn’t really do it now.
“Rod and I get asked for advice, from the younger committee members, and I suppose we have to make sure that the club funds are not all spent!
“Rod and I have run more miles together than I care to mention, and I’m still running.
“I usually run the Bury Parkrun in about 23 minutes, and yet when I ran a 5K on the track earlier this week, I could only manage 26 minutes!
“How can that be? I guess it’s because I’ve always been a road runner, rather than a track runner.
“But I’ve seen many changes over the years, and the opening of the athletics track (West Suffolk Arena) was one of the most important for the club,” added Price, who ran his first marathon at London in 1981.
Former marathon star, Evans, who made the presentations (two framed memorabilia), recalled running with both Allard and Price in his first half-marathon, more than 30 years ago!
And as an Olympian and former Chicago Marathon winner, from 1996, Evans has been an inspiration to many fellow Suffolk runners over the last few decades, including Allard and Price.
At the end of the evening, Evans headed off up to the north-east for the Great North Run, in his role with Sport England.
As for Allard and Price – let’s hope that they continue to be key members of the Pacers for many more years to come!