Get to know…Mike Naylor

Mike with Mara Yamauchi who currently holds the second fastest time by a British woman over the marathon behind Paula Radcliffe.

For today’s chosen old school club member we’re joined by Mike Naylor, husband to Chris and father to Tom. Mike is the man that for soooo many years collated all of the Arena club records until the club just got to big for one man to do this. Mike has been a bit of a historian when it comes to Arena and admin can honestly say that Mike has been a major player in getting the history of the club together and for that we thank him whole heartedly. Mike is an excellent coach and has helped, for many years, to coach the kids at Phoenix and a top job he has done for them as well. So lets find out a little more about Mike.
Name: Mike Naylor
1. What was your first road race?
The Brighton 6 Miler, starting and finishing at Withdean stadium. My longest training run was 4 miles around the Level, I avoided hills. B6M was probably the toughest race at that distance, two climbs, including running up to the Windmill on Mill Road. My first words to my wife Chris on completion were ‘Never again’ I found out later it was hosted by Arena 80.
2. How long have you been running and why Arena 80?
Seriously running, probably since 1986, so 31 years. In the mid-eighties, Ron Grover A80’s founder, had a furniture shop in Shoreham that sold running shoes! Chris and I went in to buy shoes and the conversation turned to running clubs, my wife Chris joined, I joined a little later.
3. Where did you grow up?
Bolton, Lancashire.
4. What is the most standout moment in A80?
Standout moment for A80 happens every year when club members come out in force to help put on the Brighton Marathon Weekend.
5. What were the early days of A80 like?
Back in the 80’s & 90’s before the running boom there were far fewer races. Because there were so few races the cross country league was essential, even if you were not particularly good at it (that’s me) because it made you work really hard and you would arrive in the track and road season all the more fitter and stronger.
Because there were so few races, the ones you did became very important and I would train and taper for each one to get the best possible result.
Also because Arena was a small club, it was quite easy to communicate and get teams together for things like Cross Country and Relays.
6. How do you see Arena as it is today?
Well the club as certainly grown! I think it as a gained a lot of respect on many levels. Initially A80 was not treated seriously by other clubs in Sussex, then of course the great female A80 runners came along and for many years A80 women were untouchable. The women won the South Downs Way Relay from 1994 to 2006 inclusively (Chris has 10 medals). Over the last 10 years or so the men’s Captaincy as put the guys on the map in Sussex really for the first time since the early 90’s when we won the Todays Runner Sussex Cross Country League (now Sunday Sussex League) and went to the National final.
7. If you could go back to one running moment in your life what would it be?
Probably Brands Hatch 10K 1988 when I was desperate to break 40 minutes for 10K and broke 39 by mistake, a close tie with Newick 10K 1992 when I was in the best shape and ran 37:58 which would put me in the top 10 these days.
8. Who is your sporting hero?
Steve Ovett.
9. What was the greatest sporting memory for you?
Hiding in the kitchen in 1966 when England had to play extra time in the WC final. I was too scared to watch. I went back to the living room at 3 – 2 in time to see Geoff Hurst’s ‘they think it’s all over’ goal.
10. What was your greatest sporting achievement?
I have a handful of County Masters Championship medals over 800, 1500 and 5K but I suppose running 36:51 for 10K at the age of 41.
11. What makes you happy?
Too many things to mention, running wise now – being injury free.
12. Have you ever met anyone famous?
Name dropping galore; Sally Gunnell,Mark Rowland, Matt Yates, Tim Hutching, Daley Thompson, Steve Ovett, Steve Cram,  Richard Nerurkar,  Dean Macy, Mara Yamauchi, Ron Hill, Brendon Foster, Charlie Grice  and Jo Pavey, all thanks to my son Tom. Oh and Leonard Cohen.
13. How is the running scene today compared with when you started out?
More races, plus Parkruns. It’s less competitive at the sharp end because the field is spread. Better organised events, chip timing, polyart running numbers, first aid! And a tremendous increase in numbers of women running and running fast times.
14. Tell us something we might not know about you?
I was the Chairman of Phoenix Athletic Club in the 90’s and early noughties.
15. Apart from running what else do you do with your free time?
Too many things to mention and I got a metal detector for Christmas.
16. Who in your opinion is the greatest ever athlete?
Steve Ovett for men, at the moment Paula for the women’s vote. Ask me again in the near future and I’m hoping it will be Laura Muir.
17. Did you ever run the London Marathon?
Once 1999; I am not and never have been a marathon runner and probably said ‘Never again’ to Chris at the end.
18. What advice would you give to a runner just starting out?
Learn to listen to your body and adjust your training and racing accordingly; running schedules or training plans don’t know how you feel and neither do coaches. Find out which distance you achieve your best results. Fight the compulsion to run every event in the calendar and a Parkrun every week. Train clever – race hard – get the best out of your efforts.
19. What do you think of the running scene now?
Locally booming and blooming, Brighton Marathon changed everything. It’s wonderful to see so many women out in the streets and on the downs training.
Worldwide running is still plagued with drugs cheats and will always will be until the sports rids itself of the drugs supplier, pharmacists, doctors and the people who encourage cheats. At the moment it’s too deeply embedded in the sport. Tim assures me Seb will sort it out!
20. Who has been the greatest Ambassador for A80?
Bob Page for all his work for Sussex Athletics as coach, official and event organiser.
Our biggest thanks to Mike for his Q&A’s today and we hope that you feel that you have now got to know Mike a little better. Check back tomorrow as we bring you another old school club member with another set of Q&A’s.