Arena Club History Part 3
From a past members point of view
Here is a letter and some photos received very recently from a founder member of A80 which gives a very interesting insight into the clubs history in the early years.
Arena 80 started training on Mondays at Withdean in 1981 and my sister and I (Marie and Louise Dudley-Ward) were involved right from the start. I had just done a bit of jogging and was keen to improve, and my sister was interested in joining for the social side as well as doing a bit of running. The two of us were on the committee and were joint social secretary for a few years, organising many social events for the club in the hall at Withdean and elsewhere for Christmas dinners etc. (Sadly I recently dumped a whole file full of minutes of meetings which I thought were totally obsolete now). We were gradually joined by others who had already been running for a while and they encouraged us novices to start entering local races to have a target to aim for. As a result, I ran my first London Marathon in 1983 and attach a few photos: one of the Arena 80 London Marathon runners and another two showing us queueing outside Brighton sorting office all night in order to post our entries. (SEE BELOW).
I went on to run two more London’s, countless other marathons, half marathons and 10K’s culminating in running the Southdown’s 80 miler in 1987, which I ran together with Camilla Williams and we finished as joint 3rd lady in a time of 18 hrs. I also represented the club with three other girls (Camilla Williams, Ragnvi Robson and Linda?) in the Stockholm Marathon, three of us having Swedish connections, and was good friends with Eva Isaacs who we were all very proud to have as a member of Arena 80.
After quite a long break to bring up a family I am now back into running again and belong to Chichester Runners AC. They have various training groups and I am happily settled into the Cake Runners. I regularly run the Chichester Parkrun with a PB this year of 28 mins at the age of 60!
Enough blowing my own trumpet. I am still in touch with Carol Wilson (Ron Grover’s partner), Camilla Williams, Siggie Harris and Jane & Bill Mulholland who live round the corner from me, and have many very fond memories of my years with Arena 80. It’s a shame my name doesn’t appear in the membership book – I can’t imagine why, but I did stop running with the club in the early 90’s. I still occasionally bump into Roger Ockenden at local runs.
It’s great to make contact and I wish the club continued success.
Louise Flude (nee Dudley-Ward)
Did you know that Eva Isaacs (a Swedish international runner) still holds the women’s club record for the marathon with a time of 2.42.23 set back in 1986 which to this day is still ranked as the 17th fastest female time in Sweden’s national records. She also holds 3rd spot in the women’s club records for the half marathon with a time of 1.18.34.
Admin says: Back in the early days of entering the London Marathon, there was no luxury of registering online. You would need to queue out all night to make sure you got your ballot paper in. Such dedication especially as it would have been cold leading up to the marathon.