Interview: Tom Drady and the glory days of the Unigate Marathon
Athletics / Sun 23rd Oct 2022 at 12:12pm
A FEW weeks ago, our editor noticed a participant at the Harlow parkrun wearing a Unigate Marathon sweatshirt.
When we spoke to Tom Drady, we found out that he was a former Essex Steeplechase champion who actually organised the race from the mid sixties to the early nineties.
The highpoint for the marathon was in 1973 when it was selected as the Commonwealth Games Trial.
It became a famous race as Luton AC’s Ian Thompson, there to make up the numbers, ran away from triple Olympian Ron Hill.
Tom’s archive also highlights the strength in depth that Harlow possessed. If you look at the Harlow Athletics team sheets from the mid-seventies, they are full of sub 2 hrs 40 min runners including sub 2.30 runners such as Dave Horton, Phil Simmons and Nat Fisher.
And for good measure, there is also Ann Tamplin, who one year ran 2.45.
We went to Tom’s house to find out how it all came about.
Today, October 23rd 2022 is in fact the 39th anniversary of the last Harlow marathon Tom organised. I remember it well as it was my first time under 2 hr 30 mins and my time of 2 hr 27 remained my best for a marathon. It was an excellent club race in the days when running was so different from now. There are many good things about Parkrun and the number of people participating, but as Tom points out, rather too few doing serious training. My time left me outside the top 600 in the country that year.
Hi found memories of competing for Harlow and doing a couple of marathons