20 Years Ago (19/05/2014)

Looking through the club archives recently we came across this feature on Allan Rushmer from 1994. The article appeared in the summer edition of the newspaper of the Veterans Athletic Club.

Allan Rushmer reached another milestone in his athletics career in February this year when he celebrated his 50th birthday. But this occasion did not signal a blitz on the veteran over 50 age-group records. Due to an attack of bronchial asthma he has raced very little over the last 12 months. One of his last races when he helped Tipton Harriers to their first National Veterans Road Relay Championships at Sutton Park in 1993. This year he did not even try to make the team. Although he carried on running and is clocking 60 miles a week regularly in training, he has only been able to do steady running. Without speed work his competitive edge has been blunted and his enthusiasm for racing tempered.

Arguably Tipton's best performer from the mid-1960s to the early 1980s, Rushmer had the talent to be an outstanding performer on track, cross-country and road. He was selected for Olympic, Commonwealth and European Games and also represented his country on numerous occasions on track and cross country.

Rushmer first made news when, as a teenager with his first club, Oldbury AC, he won a 3 mile track race. Running in a pair of pumps he beat John Edwards, a 48 minute 10 miler and one of the "stars" of the time. Moving on to another local but much larger club, Tipton Harriers, "Rushy" soon made his presence felt and played a big part in making Tipton such a prominent force in road and cross-country events. He has competed in over 34 countries and well remembers his first trip overseas to Tunisia, representing the English Cross-Country Union, and finished fifth in a race in which Ron Hill was second. He won a bronze medal in the 1966 Commonwealth Games 5000m in Jamaica and was fourth in the same event in the 1970 Edinburgh Commonwealth Games, clocking a magnificent 13:27.8. In the European Championships in Budapest he finished fifth in the 10,000m with a time of 28:37.0.

In 1967, Rushmer joined the elite four-minute mile club. Having heard of an invitation mile race taking place at the British Timken Sports Ground at Northampton, he asked to be included and, on a cinder track, finished second in 3:58.7. He was passed only in the final 100 yards by Alan Simpson who had finished fourth in the 1500m in the Tokyo Olympic Games in 1964. This performance was all the more amazing because Rushmer had not had regular access to attract the training. His track training consisted of fartlek on cricket fields and canal tow paths in the Black Country. One of his regrets about his earlier athletics career is that he had little opportunity to run one mile or 1500m races. He recalls competing only a handful of events at this distance and on each occasion recorded times close to 4 minutes. Only two days after his sub four-minute mile he beat Temu of Kenya at the White City over 3 miles in a time of 13:08 .00.

Rushmer thrived on racing almost every week. Possibly his finest weekend was that on which he recorded the fastest short leg of the day in the National Road Relays at Sutton Park on the Saturday, then immediately left for Warsaw where he ran in a representative match against Poland, finishing second in the 10,000m. On the cross-country scene he ran in three International Cross-Country Championships, his best position being 7th. Probably his finest cross-country performance was in battling his way to third position in the infamous "Arctic" National Senior Cross-Country Championships at Sutton Park in 1972 but his favourite was the 1969 event when he helped Tipton to their first of numerous subsequent titles. On the road during this period is best time for a 10 mile event was 47:54.

On reaching veteran status in 1984, Rushmer set about winning major vets races. Among his achievements were winning the World Veterans 10 K Road Championships at Vancouver in a time of 30:45, second place in the same event when held at St Anne's, Lancashire, winning the Barnsley Veterans 10K and running 30:11 to win the European Veterans 10K Track Championships at Brighton in 1984. He also won the BVAF Cross-Country Championships at Sheffield in 1986 and demonstrated his versatility by recording 2:21.0 in the Sandwell Marathon.

Like some other top-class veterans since, Rushmer has competed many times on the American Masters circuit. Among his victories have been the Crescent City 10K, the Orange Bowl event in Miami, the Red Lobster in Orlando and the Boston Milk Run.

Allan Rushmer still runs every day to and from work at the Sandwell Parks Department and completes his training with a long run on Sundays. He expects to start racing again in the near future and he has already received an invitation to run in the Steam Boat Classic in the USA in 1995. If Allan Rushmer can reignite that spark of enthusiasm for racing again he could make a big impression in the M50 vets scene.

From details supplied by the late Bryan Clifton of Tipton Harriers