It came as a great shock to Larraine and myself to learn of Peter’s death. We joined his 6.00 min/k running pack in the second year of the Clinic and continued to think of him as cheerful, enthusiastic, and dynamic. But then the thought occurs that ‘hang on, this was over three decades ago’ and we are all facing the same inexorable march of time.
Those were the glory days of the Clinic. Together with Rob Sutton, and Alan Thomson the Clinic hit the ground running, as it were. We packed out the Rongotai gym and the Sunday sessions would start with an ‘eduational’ on how to train for a marathon, what diet to follow, recommended stretches, proper running shoes, how to avoid injury, and most important, how to run a marathon. The aim was to get everyone up to fitness to run the Hastings Marathon in September. Peter usually took the session – although it wasn’t long before Tony Coard got in on the act. These sessions were hugely informative and worthwhile. I can recall advice from Peter on not eating a meal just before a marathon. All one would do was giving a stomach full of half digested food a free ride for 42.195 kilometres. He also said that although there was no firm evidence that running and keeping fit lead to a longer life, there was a lot of evidence that suggested the quality of life was so much better. The most memorable quote of Peter, which I have often repeated to people enquiring about the Clinic programme was ‘Our programme involves LSD (long slow distance running). We start on grass, and then hit the hard stuff’.
As a pack leader he was without peer. In those days packs were 30+ and initially Peter looked after us all without appointing an ‘assistant pack leader’. He would set the pace at the front, then continually run back and forth monitoring the pace. He would cajoule, support, and encourage everyone and was unfailingly cheerful. I am sure it was Peter to developed the technique of dealing with runners in front of the pack who went out too far ahead, thus increasing the pace. He would let them get ahead and then turn the pack off at a corner, thus leaving the front group to suddenly realise they were all alone. Bruce Perry was particularly good at using this technique when he took over the pack.
Peter kept in contact with the Clinic and regularly sent me emails saying how much he appreciated receiving the Weekly Report and enjoying the humour. He said he felt involved in keeping up with the Clinic Events. His legacy is not the Clinic of today. It is completely different to what he, Alan, and Rob started. His legacy is of all the memories he generated for those of us he encouraged to run marathons.
Wellington Marathon Clinic
I was indeed sorry to hear of the loss of Peter, he was a super team member & picked up the bit when the club grew & we needed more & more helpers & pack leaders & Peter filled that position admirably. A big loss but running doesn’t guarantee longevity just provides a very full enjoyment of the time we have & Peter certainly enjoyed his running days at the clinic. Please pass on condolences to any family about.
The clinic may also not be aware of another loss that of Gary Weston-Webb better known as Wally Weta. Gary was one of the more humorous Sunday speakers providing a totally different in sight on how to train. Gary loved hills & knew every set steps in Wellington.
One of his favorite expressions was “don’t laugh at the lady in the pink shoes she just might pass you in the last mile!!”