Dedicated Scottish runner, race organiser, and committee member

Andy Ford is a dedicated Scottish runner, race organiser, and committee member. As one of our fastest and arguably tallest club members, he is often found steaming around the track during the Wellington summer, and leading pacey workouts on the waterfront during the winter. In this instalment in “Keeping Us on the Run”, Andy tells us about his role on the management committee, his experiences running in England and New Zealand, and the club’s plans for the upcoming track season.

Andy, when did you join Scottish, and what led to you to join the club?

I joined in 2012, shortly after I moved to Wellington.

I ran the Wellington 10km in June 2011 and remembered a) the weather was foul b) there were lots of Scottish gold shirts around (well, mostly ahead of) me. I went along to a couple of club runs when I moved permanently down here, liked what I saw, and joined.

Before joining Scottish, what was your background in running?

I grew up 400m from the local swimming pool and athletics track and initially joined the swimming club. Whilst there was no lack of effort, one of the club coaches suggested that I perhaps try running instead….

I benefited from some great junior coaches at Cheltenham Harriers and had many enjoyable summer seasons competing on the track and some ‘character building’ winters racing XC.

I continued running at University and following that in Manchester, injuries permitting.

What’s your favourite race in the Scottish calendar?

University relays – fantastic setting, great course, invariably great weather.

What’s the best race that you’ve ever run in the Scottish singlet?

Road Relays in 2014 at Akaroa. Got drafted into B Team at last minute and volunteered for the downhill leg. My simple race strategy was to go ‘very hard’ along the tops and ‘as hard as possible’ down the hill…. needless to say I left nothing out there, and could not walk for a couple of days afterwards.

I actually borrowed Paul Barwick’s Garmin for the race and broke many of his records – probably the fastest that Garmin will ever go, unless perhaps on the 6.32 to Johnsonville (and even then it would be marginal).

How long have you been on the management committee?

Hmmm, think this is my 2nd season.

As a member of the committee, what is your role?

I don’t have a specific role, but tend to focus on helping organise events such as Three Peaks and Night of Miles.

What do you like most about being on the management committee?

Working with a great bunch of people who have so many different strengths and a great desire to constantly improve the offering the Scottish can provide to its members.

It is also great to hear about and be able to support the many awesome initiatives that the Scottish volunteers come to us with – without volunteers, there would be no club.

And what do you like least?

El Presidente talking about “still coming back from injury”. He has been saying that for 2 years…

You’ve taken responsibility for organizing the Night of Miles this year. What is the Night of Miles? How will this year’s Night of Miles be different?

Well, everything you need to know is in the name – it is a night (well, late afternoon) of fun athletics, with many races over the rarely run metric mile.

This year will be different as Newtown Park Track is being re-laid so we have secured the Basin Reserve as a venue.

I’m really excited about the opportunities for the event – we are keen to make it even more fun than previous years and attract people who might normally be put off by a ‘track’ race.

You’re a long-time member of Scottish, and you’ve also been a member of running clubs in Britain. What did you like most about the running scene in Britain? Are there any lessons that we could draw from the way they do things there, for Scottish or for New Zealand running in general?

I really enjoyed competitive inter-club track meets in the summer – six clubs against each other, men and women, A & B strings races, trying to get as many points as we could to win (or stay up). Made for an entertaining afternoon, with everyone chipping in – my hammer throw best of 9m was achieved in one of these events!

The English National XC Championships is the pinnacle of XC running – 2000+ men from 18 to 88 charging through the mud towards the first corner was quite a spectacle, and the ‘National” is always the biggest event in the winter calendar.

Here in New Zealand it seems to be the opposite – the field is often bigger for the Dorne Cup / Vosseler than the National XC.

Why is this? Distance and travel are factors, and perhaps centre teams give the impression that the National is only for the ‘elites’. Maybe there should just be one combined men’s grade and a not so much of an emphasis on masters grades.

Anyhow, Wellington will be hosting the National XC next year and I know that the organising committee is already thinking of ways to broaden the appeal and create a successful event.

If you could make one change to New Zealand club running, what would it be?

Abolish the upfront ANZ levy system, replace with more of a pay-as-you-run system and do away with the defined membership year (April to April).

The sport needs to look at ways to innovate and broaden its appeal.

Interview by Simon Keller