Still breaking records — at 60!

Nick on his way to winning the 1977 Dogwood Relays 5000m

No surprises there — the double Olympian still holds the UK all-time 10k road record with 27 minutes 34 seconds in 1984 — that's 10 seconds faster than Mo Farah.

A highly-successful running career included a gold in the World Cross-Country Championships, a silver at the Commonwealth Games and racing against the legendary Steve Prefontaine while at college in the US.

Nowadays, Nick can still be seen doing his daily six miles or so around the Bristol Downs, his prolific hair, once good-naturedly likened to Farrah Fawcett-Majors' is maybe little whiter now, but mentally and physically he's ageless.

"Perhaps there are a few more aches and pains," he admits. "But running has been a way of life for so long that I'd be lost without it. You just adapt and keep going and I've certainly no plans for retirement." He has however stopped teaching full-time at a local primary school where countless youngsters were inspired to take up athletics by Nick's enthusiasm and charisma.

"I'll miss it," he says. "But I'm hopeful that I can now do a few more races now I've stopped teaching and have more time to train." But Up & Running, the UK's largest independent specialist running retailer, which Nick founded with fellow athlete Rick Wallis, takes up quite a lot of his time, too.

"Rick and I were both coaching and we came to the conclusion there was a real need for someone to cater for athletes and particularly runners," Nick remembers.  "We got chatting about the possibility of opening a business together and things just went from there. We have just opened our 31st shop."

"The London Olympics and Paralympics were such an enormous success that there's now a real spin-off into participating in sport rather than just watching it. The future of athletics is looking good."

Nick ran in the 5,000 and 10,000 metres at the 1980 and 1984 Olympics in Moscow and Los Angeles. "The atmosphere in these huge stadiums was great, but nothing like London.

"I would love to have competed in a home Olympics. I was absolutely taken aback by the spirit of the games, which was unbelievable.

Athletes from other countries told me they had never come across such an atmosphere in their lives."
Nick was no stranger to big-time athletics. Still the current record-holder of the European 10km road race and 4x1 mile relay, he set a half-marathon world record and his personal best is the second-fastest UK time after Steve Jones.

Turning professional, he ran the fastest indoor 3,000 metre time of any athlete in 1978 and was national 10,000 metre champion in 1980.

He took the 5,000 metre silver medal at the 1982 Commonwealth Games, coming second to great rival Dave Moorcroft.

A sports scholarship to an American university found Nick competing against Steve Prefontaine, who once held seven US records and died in a car crash at the age of only 24.

Few runners beat Prefontaine, but Nick Rose almost did. In the 1978 NCAA six-mile cross-country championship, Nick built up an impressive lead with three miles to go.

Prefontaine caught up during the last mile and won with only yards to go. He said later that Nick had given him one of his toughest races.

Nick's strict training was legendary. "It's got to be if you're going to compete at the top level. You need a routine and structure which never varies. I never took time off unless I was ill.

"In winter I'd run 13-15 miles a day and 10-12 miles in summer. Usually I'd run twice a day but sometimes it would be three times.

I wasn't exceptional. Some athletes would train twice on Christmas Day! "Really intensive training is vital. I didn't really believe that massage, diet or weights were that important but the big advantage I had was luck — and to have the likes of Steve Jones, Brendan Foster, Dave Black and Dave Moorcroft around me. "With people like that, you had to be pretty fast to make the team."

Looking back, how do today's stars compare with such legends of the halcyon days of UK athletics?
"To be honest, despite the wonderful performances in the Olympics and the revolutions in diet, fitness and technology the fact is that the standard of long and middle-distance running maybe hasn't improved as much as it might have done," Nick says.

"There were guys in my era doing 28 minutes in the 10,000 metres who never even got a British vest, but they would today. I've heard it said that the club standard has in some cases gone down and the fact that my record hasn't been broken in nearly 30 years might be said to be proof of that. "I do worry that youngsters have so much available to them, including a vast variety of sports, that athletics is perhaps not getting the intake it once did.

"It's a lot to do with lifestyle. But these things come in cycles and in a few years we may well will see an upsurge in UK middle and long-distance running. Let's hope so."

Nick says that once the running bug bites, it rarely lets go. People like Seb Coe and Brendan Foster still run regularly when they can. "I organise a running group of men and women of all ages who come along once a week and love it.

Some might want to race, others just want to get fit but what they really come for is the enjoyment and the camaraderie. "We make sure that they run correctly and stay within their capabilities. That's the important thing.

"Nowadays I'm just happy to get out there, appreciate the scenery and come back knowing that I've enjoyed my morning run — and hopefully will be doing another one tomorrow."


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