Get to know…Alan Garnham

For this weeks chosen club member we are joined by, what I can only describe, as an Arena warhorse, and I mean that in the nicest possible way to introduce Alan Garnham. A genuinely nice guy and, let’s face it, you don’t meet many professor’s when you’re running. That is one of the joys of running, the fact that you get to meet people who you wouldn’t normally get a chance to meet and socialize with. I have trained and run marathons with Alan for a few years now and it’s fair to say that although he might not have a the quickest turn of speed, what he does posses is a great consistency with his running, a bit like a built-in metronome, he just keeps on going. Alan has 254 parkrun’s already under his belt, a marathon time of 3.56.23 and half marathon time of 1.43.46 which is some going for a V55 runner. Another one of the Arena family that has been with us for some time and a really nice genuine bloke so ladies and gents please welcome Alan Garnham to this week’s Q&A’s.

Name: Alan Garnham 

1.   When did you join Arena:
In 2011 after my second Brighton Marathon (of three). I was hoping to bring down my times for shorter distances, and I did take about 30 secs off my parkrun time (PB of 21.33, New Year’s Eve 2011 – those were the days)

2.    How long have you been running:
I’d done a bit of running before (e.g. when I lived in Reading from 1983-1985), but I started this time in 2008 after I had been diagnosed with hypertension, following a bike accident. Initially, medics thought it was the shock of the accident that pushed my blood pressure up, but it failed to come down in the aftermath.

3.     Where did you grow up:
Harrogate, North Yorkshire (though it was in the West Riding when I was born)

4.    What was the last thing you bought:
 Some shorts (not running shorts!) for next year in the M&S sale.

5.    What’s one of the scariest things you’ve ever done:
 I had quite a sheltered childhood, so upping and offing at very short notice to live in Texas for a year as a student was quite alarming – first time I had flown, among other things.

6.    What were you like at school:
 Shy and eccentric, but studious (Someone asked to identify me once said “long hair, teeth, and glasses” – only the teeth left now). I was top of the top stream in a (state) grammar school.

7.    Tell me about something you would happily do again:
 Be a student at Oxford in the 1970s (and me in my twenties)

8.    Name 3 things in nature you find most beautiful:
 We go back to the Yorkshire Dales for a holiday every year (there are more than three of them!).

9.    Tell us about something you’ve achieved:
 I’ve published (as author or editor) ten books. My first one (a specialist text on Psycholinguistics) sold over 10,000 copies, which was quite respectable in its niche market.

10. What’s your favourite book, magazine or comic:
 In magazines, I like Private Eye (and one of my older sons has just given me a subscription as a birthday present). For a long time I was fascinated by Kafka’s “The Trial”, though I haven’t re-read it lately.

11. Tell us something we don’t know about you:
 I once owned a classic car (Rover P4), which was whisked away on a very stormy night in 1999, probably to be smashed up in stock car races. After several years of work, it was in good running order, and I was a good way through the cosmetic work it needed. Sigh!

12. What makes you happy:
 Seeing my boys (all five of them) achieving what they want to achieve.

13. What do you do to relax: 
 If you see me relaxing, please let me know. I spend a lot of time taking my boys to local, national, and international sporting events that they are taking part in. I like cooking, reading and tv quiz programmes, and I’ve recently taken up racketball, where I can use some of my squash skills from way back. Whether any of these activities are relaxing is another question.

14. If you could try out any job for a day, what would you like to try:
 I’ve never really wanted to do anything apart from what I actually do (being an academic), or thought I’d be any good at anything else. Though as a boy I wanted to play cricket for England (and Yorkshire under the old “Yorkshiremen only” regime).

15. Which store or website would you choose to max out your credit card:
 Not my style to max out credit cards.

16. What is most important in life:
 I do like my work (and running!), but it has to be family.

17. Who in your life has influenced you the most:
 Probably my mum, even though she died almost half my life ago.

18. What’s your earliest memory:
 As a professional psychologist I am a bit weary of claims about early memories, but I do have many fond memories of my childhood.

19. Name your 3 favourite foods:
 Hard to narrow it down to three. Thai curries are pretty nice. Avocados (avocado, mozzarella and tomato, with olive oil, basil and balsamic vinegar, mmm!). Pan-fried fish (plaice, sole, sea bream, sea bass, etc.,) with lemon juice. Did I miss out cheese (Comté, Manchego, Pont L’évêque, Roquefort, Wensleydale, to name a few favourites)?

20. Who is your sporting hero:
I do watch professional sport, but I find a lot of things about it, and many of the people in it, pretty depressing. Whoever was it who thought it was a good idea to pay people more than £20 a week to play football, for example (clue: long chin, partial beard)? I’m more inclined to admire Areneez of my own age or older who are still doing much better than me (that’s you Snakehips! but also people like Chris Naylor and Nicky Yeates). 

Our biggest thanks to Alan for his Q&A’s this week and we hope that you feel that you have now got to know Alan little better. Check back next Wednesday for another set of Q&A’s with our chosen club member.