Guernsey Race Walking : Sarnia Walking Club

July 31, 2019

Mick Barnbrook retires from race walking

Filed under: Uncategorized — sarnia @ 7:43 pm

FullSizeRender-5

 

Dave Ainsworth reports that one time Sarnia Walking Club member Mick Barnbrook has retired from race walking after 49 years service to the sport. Thanks to Dave for the full report reproduced below at the end of this page. Here are the relevant parts on his Guernsey and Sarnia connections.

 

“As for Guernsey, Mick had a spell as a Sarnia Walking Club member – once famously travelling all the way from his then Sidcup home to St.Peter Port just for an AGM!  That shows his commitment for the cause.  Mick was a legend during his time on Sarnia’s books – as when appointed “The Minister for Mainland Development” he spent much time and effort promoting their annual September Church-to-Church 19.4 miles classic event – with much success, as numbers of mainland competitors impressively increased.”  

“He’s dropped out once – taken so seriously ill when ascending that steep opening climb of his beloved Church-to-Church walk, he ended that week as a hospital in-patient suffering a stomach ulcer.  On that occasion the bystander coming to his aid was Chris Flint’s wife who was commended for doing all the right things! “

Mick Barnbrook walked in the Church to Church event in:

2001 3.36.52, 2002 3.38.43, 2003 DNF, 2004 3.51.28,

2005 3.48.01, 2006 3.39.26, 2007 3.46.56.

The group photo shows competitors from Guernsey and overseas in the 3 kilometres road walk held on the Friday evening before the Church to Church event. Mick is number 78 in the Sarnia Walking Club colours.

FullSizeRender-1 FullSizeRender-8FullSizeRender-6

FullSizeRender-4Dave Ainsworth: Full report below..AND IT’S GOODNIGHT FROM HIM!

Romford-born and now Ramsgate-based, Mick Barnbrook, at the age of 76, has announced a retirement from athletics after 49 continuous years’ involvement in our sport – his first race walking appearance being in 1970.  He has belonged to Metropolitan Police Walking Club, The Centurions, Cambridge Harriers, Sarnia WC & Ilford AC, as well as being “unattached” for 6 years.  He’s been a most active competitor as past result sheets will confirm, and a regular supporter of race walking functions.  Mick states one of his most cherished awards was a clock presented by Steve Wynn when becoming one of 6 (incidentally all CenturIons) to complete 100 Blackheath 9K Handicap races.  He’s had some poor health in recent times, but a serious back injury brought about this decision – which came when run over by a car while trying to stop a getaway driver, who was subsequently arrested by colleagues and imprisoned.  Mick carried this injury for decades, without complaint.  Like so many, Mick entered race walking via his employer – when a Sergeant at Peckham, being recruited to make up a Barking-to-Southend team by colleague, then Sergeant Peter Hodkinson at the same Station.

Mick became Centurion 661 at the famous 1979 Ewhurst 100 Miles, clocking 21:59.05.  His 2 completed 100 miles races show how UK race walking fortunes have nosedived.  At Ewhurst 107 started, 78 finished of whom 37 became new Centurions.  After Mick’s efforts, a decade passed before the next Metropolitan Police athlete joined The Centurions – when Cambridge Harriers clubmate Peter Hodkinson passed the recorders in 19:48.00, in the Arthur Eddleston BEM Memorial Event at Hendon Police Training School – for good measure Peter was followed home by 7 more Met. Police collegeagues!  In 2001 Mick finished the “Hedgethorne 100” at Colchester’s Lower Castle Park, where 47 started, 15 finished (2 d/q’d) with just 3 new Centurions – only one belonging to a UK Club – Nigerian Charles Arosanyan.  Mick’s time was 23:40.32, just behind popular and frequent Essex visitor Hans Van der Knapp.  That race had an Ilford AC “escort” as first & last finishers belonged to that Club – Bob Dobson & Mick (both incidentally then aged 58).  The previous time one Club had provided an “escort” was at the 1969 Bristol 100 Miles when Essex Police members John Hedgethorne and Paul Cox were first & last.  Colchester saw awards for all competitors reaching a minimum of 20 miles, which was all Mick planned to do.  He hadn’t trained for 100 miles but thought about it being John Hedgethorne’s Memorial race, so decided to press on to honour the great man’s name by going further.  He did go further – and further – and even further with Sharon as his hard-working attendant.  After each park circuit he put his feet in a bucket of cool water to refresh them and ploughed on to complete a sub-24 hours’ 100 miles for a second time.  With completions in 1979-and-2001 (22 years’ apart) Mick thought he might have got a record for the longest gap between successful UK sub-24 hours’ finishes.  A long span – yes – but not the longest.  That record is held by Past President of both The Centurions and the Race Walking Association, former International Eric Horwill (1966-and-1997/31 years’ apart).  Mick’s initial aim at Colchester was to race a competitive 20 miles’ walk in preparation for the Guernsey’s annual Church-to-Church classic, but as reported above, he then kept on going!  Bob Dobson’s win came in one of the greatest 100 miles’ races in UK history as he clocked 19.46.11 with Richard Brown (SWC) 2nd in 19:50.39.  Bob became eldest winner of a senior RWA Championship!

As for Guernsey, Mick had a spell as a Sarnia Walking Club member – once famously travelling all the way from his then Sidcup home to St.Peter Port just for an AGM!  That shows his commitment for the cause.  Mick was a legend during his time on Sarnia’s books – as when appointed “The Minister for Mainland Development” he spent much time and effort promoting their annual September Church-to-Church 19.4 miles classic event – with much success, as numbers of mainland competitors impressively increased.   Mick’s fit as proved by a hectic 6 weeks’ spell when finishing 4 marathon runs, a 50K and a 20 Miles’ walk.  He’s twice run London Marathons, with a 3 hours 25 minutes pb.  Essex-born Mick also has an individual place medal (3rd) in a 3,000 Metres Essex County Championship, so he can sprint as well as tackle long distances.  In 49 years he’s only twice been disqualified – on a penultimate lap at Cricklefields Stadium in an Essex League 10,000 metres event, and more spectacularly 20 yards into an Open 7 Miles, having travelled to Leicester for it!  He’s dropped out once – taken so seriously ill when ascending that steep opening climb of his beloved Church-to-Church walk, he ended that week as a hospital in-patient suffering a stomach ulcer.  On that occasion the bystander coming to his aid was Chris Flint’s wife who was commended for doing all the right things!  Mind you Mick thought about dropping out again – half way up that steep climb in the Chiltern Hills on the Pednor 5 Miles – but soldiered on!

Like so many Clubmen at the time, Mick aimed for a coveted RWA 7 Miles-in-an-Hour badge, and so nearly achieved one, with a number of finishes just seconds outside his target.  However he bettered this standard on 2 occasions, but in 10 miles events.  He twice represented the British Police in 10 miles’ representative matches, both times getting under 85 minutes!   Needless to say he was awarded British Police Representative colours, of which he’s most proud.

Mick’s been at nearly all our classic events, such as appearing successfully in 8 Hastings-to-Brightons (38 miles) & 2 London-to-Brightons (53 miles),  In 1975 he was 47th of 73 finishers clocking 9:55.17 just pipping London Vidarian Mike Gleed by 4 seconds in a tight seafront finish.  In 1981, 10:29.22 secured him 28th spot – a second behind late Belgravian John Keown – when 36 finishers made the result sheet.  Mick has a sad memory of that event, for he wasn’t far behind Belgrave Harrier Dave King at Pyecombe, before a road accident so tragically ended his life.  Like so many Police officers, Mick has wonderful memories of the Barking-to-Southend Walk (34 Miles), having completed 16 of them (best an impressive 5 hours 31 minutes).  Mick’s aim was to secure a top-10 finish and, on one occasion, seemingly had it in the proverbial bag when 10th on entering Southend United’s Roots Hall Stadium for a lap of the pitch.  He blamed his attendant for not tipping him off that a fast-closing Chris Flint was gaining ground, and Chris – nowadays a near Kent neighbour of Mick – pipped him on the line so relegating Mick to 11th spot!

Apart from athletics, Mick’s always been involved in community life.  Most notably as Chairman of a Royal Naval Association action committee (based in Greenwich) which sought to find sailors of all-ranks who’d been awarded Victoria Crosses, but rested in unmarked graves, paupers graves and graves lacking headstones.  His Group found 10 worthy recipients and grafted hard to obtain sponsorship to buy headstones and arrange proper dedication ceremonies.  Their efforts righly attracted National press attention.  One such recipient was Greenwich-born Rear Admiral Eric Gascoigne Robinson VC, OBE and Mentioned in Despatches (1882-1965), who when a Lieuetenant Commander in the Dardenelles, stormed ashore and single-handedly destroyed a Turkish gun battery.  He ended Word War 1 after being badly injured later in the Gallipoli Peninsula Campaign.  He was buried at St.John’s Church in Langish (near Petersfield) but for unknown reasons without a headstone.  This omission was rectified in 1998 as a proper dedication ceremony was arranged to put matters right!

Mick can be relied on to vounteer for long and time-consuming duties when needed – as 3 times he’s been on support teams (driving/feeding/motivating) when ultra-distance race walkers have tackled really long ones on the Continent.  When then Cambridge Harriers, Metropolitan Police & Centurions’ colleague Arthur Eddlestone BEM, who so sadly lost his life in a 1984 mountaineering mishap, tackled a John O’Groats-to-Land’s End Walk Mick took control of a charity package initiative which raised over £25,000 for Bexley’s Multiple Sclerosis branch.  At that organisation, Mick helped out with both entertainment and transport and was highly thought of.  Mick gave up his time to be an athletics mentor for fellow Cambridge Harrier Stephen Lawrence, who tragically lost his life in a high-profile 1993 murder.

Mick was promising at more than athletics, as when living in Plaistow he excelled on table tennis tables, once competing against Chester Barnes in a local league match.

Thanks to Mick for all he’s done to keep our British race walking going.  If all race walkers had made as many appearances as Mick, and been as enthusiastic as him, this sport would have been much, much stronger.

Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: