For this week’s chosen club member we are joined by one of our longer serving members Vicki Clark, who is celebrating her 20 year anniversary with Arena 80. Although she now lives in Meads Village near Eastbourne, back in the day she was an active competitive member of the club, racing most weekends and winning many team medals. She was the Senior & U20 Women’s XC Team Manager for 8 years and currently works on an ad-hoc basis at the London Marathon. She has worked at American Express for 20 years and feels privileged that her work takes her to New York often where running in Central Park on a Sunday Morning at 7am is a joy. Vicki is still holds 5th place in the Arena women’s club records for her fine 10 mile run as a V40 at Portsmouth in 2010 with a time of 63.13 so truly a class athlete for Arena. You can still see Vicki donning the blue vest of Arena at some of the big races and even more so at the XC league races. I know Arena 80 has brought her a lot of pleasure over the years so let’s hear more from her.
1. When and why did you join Arena:
It was about 1997. I was a member of Seaford Striders for about 4 years and moved across to Arena as they had a strong female section. Nothing much has changed in 20 years then 😉
2. How long have you been running:
For about 26 years. I shared a house with my friend who was an England Hockey Player when I first left University and went to work in London. We used to train together and she got me in to running. It was something I could do easily after work to keep my fitness up.
3. Where did you grow up:
Seaford. I’ll never ever leave the Sussex Coast. It’s beautiful.
4. What got you into running:
For the reasons above.
5. What do you consider to be your greatest race?
For me it’s all about times so my 37:05 at Chichester 10km in 2007 and my 1:23 at Reading Half Marathon followed by 3:06 London Marathon both in 2009. They both felt incredibly comfortable. Those types of races only come around a few times in your competitive career but when they do, it feels amazing.
6. How different was the running scene back when you started to how it is today:
Less women competitively ran and all of us were running gadget free and guessing pace and mileage. Seemed to work just fine.
7. Did you do other sports in your earlier days as well as running:
I was the sporty kid at school and competed in pretty much every ball sport. I was Sussex Hockey Captain from age 15 to 18, trained with the England U18 squad but unfortunately never got an official cap. I also played Tennis for Sussex U16’s and dabbled in Triathlon and Duathlon when I had more time to train and not such a demanding career like now. I’ll go back to Triathlon when I retire.
8. Any thoughts on the modern-day Arena, has anything changed:
9. Who were the faces on the running scene back then:
There were some phenomenal Sussex based women in the 1990’s. Libby Jones, Julia Armstrong and Tracy Owen dominated road racing. They were the girls I aspired to be as fast as. Then Julie Briggs, Caroline Hoyte, Lynn Williams and Holly Wheeler (all Arena 80) ruled a little later for years in Sussex. Two of them still do!
10. Who is your sporting hero:
Helen Glover. Not only is she a phenomenal rower, she is an exceptional all round athlete. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting her and she is also annoyingly happy, chatty and friendly.
11. What do you think has been your life’s major sporting achievement:
Unquestionably when myself, Julie Briggs and Louise Vallier won the Women’s Team Marathon Championships in London 2009. We had all trained so hard and although we were running for individual times we knew we could potentially get the 1st team prize if Julie and Louise both ran sub 3 hour marathons and I could run a sub 3hr 7min marathon. We did it!
12. What’s been your favourite brand of sportswear:
For those that know me, I love a good quality brand! Some of my favourites are Falke Ergonomic, GORE, Under Armour, Castelli and Sugoi. I spend far too much money on kit but you can never have enough right?
13. What’s something that you aren’t:
14. Tell us something we don’t know about you:
I was a contestant on a 1980’s children’s programme hosted by Johnny Ball called ‘Secret’s Out’ at the age of 12. Famous for 5 minutes.
15. You’re running freely up on the hills, what’s playing in your earphones:
I love 80’s music as it reminds me of such happy times. I’m also partial to a bit of Fat Boy Slim when running.
16. What were you like at school:
Very sporty and VERY competitive! That’s not changed much. I’ve just learnt to tone down my competitiveness a bit!
17. Tell us about something you would happily do again:
I would happily clean my car over and over and over again. I find it quite therapeutic. Weird I know.
18. Is there anything that you are scared of:
I’m slightly scared of horses. I used to ride and got thrown off a horse when I was about 14. I then realised how strong and unpredictable they can be and feel myself getting a bit nervous when I’m out on my bike in the countryside and then see one on the road in the distance. They have minds of their own. One threw its rider after being scared by runners at the Barnes Green Half Marathon many years ago and it went crazy. It took an Arena 80 member to bring it back under control but I don’t remember who that was. Anyone remember?
19. What advice would you give to your younger self:
I don’t know if I was sufficiently grateful when I was younger, but I am now. I think as you get older you do realise how lucky you are.
20. When are you at your happiest:
We stay in a small fishing village called Portixol in Mallorca a few times a year and to wake up on a summer’s morning, throw open the balcony doors and to be able to hear nothing apart from small fishing boats leaving the harbour is just heaven. Also when we are there our lives are not dictated by time and that makes me really happy.
Our biggest thanks to Vicki for her Q&A’s this week and we hope that you feel that you have now got to know Vicki a little better. Check back next Wednesday for another set of Q&A’s with our chosen club member.