Runner, 69, from first-ever Huntingdon Marathon in 1981: “In my mind, I’m as fast as I ever was!”

Huntingdon marathon runners

L-R: Alec Watt, Dave Gardner, Nick Rust and Alan Burgin. - Credit: Geoff Garratt and Philip Reeson

On the 11th October 1981, Alan Burgin was lining up on the start line of the first Huntingdon Marathon. Forty years on, Alan reflects on the day, his fellow runners and, at 69, how running continues to inspire him.

“It was a sunny day, fairly cold, but no wind,” Alan recalls. “I ran to a set plan, in terms of starting at a steady pace and running at that speed throughout. In a lot of the photos, I don’t figure in the lead group, but I finished strongly to cross the line in sixth position.”

Alan ran in a team with Alec Watt, who was a physical training instructor and actually won the race, along with Nick Rust (4th) and Dave Gardner (28th). Alan ran a time of two hours, forty-three minutes and 14 seconds.

Alan, along with fellow members of RAF Brampton, where he was stationed as a photographic interpreter, signed up to the marathon after spotting an article and entry form in The Hunts Post. The entry fee was just £2!

Alan Burgin running in the first Huntingdon Marathon in 1981.

Alan Burgin running in the first Huntingdon marathon in 1981. - Credit: CAROLE BURGIN

“I’d always been fit,” Alan said. “When I first joined the air force, I played hockey, but when I couldn’t get into the team every week, I switched to running – and I continue to run today. Last year, because I used to live in Bristol, I ran the Bath half-marathon in one hour and 52 minutes; in fact, I ran the first three in 1982, 83 and 84.

“It’s still a challenge and a competition. In my mind, I’m as fast as I ever was, but my body lets me know that I’m not! I certainly know when I’ve completed a hard run because my body reminds me for the next day or two.”

Sadly, Alan, who remains a member of the Huntingdon Athletics Club, lost touch with both Alec and Nick, but he is confident there will be plenty of runners that took part in the very first Huntingdon Marathon and could share stories from four decades ago. If you took part or know of individuals that did, The Hunts Post would be delighted to hear from you.