The 12 Dave’s Of Christmas #7 – Dave Appleby

Today we return to a real life Dave and a fast one at that.. Ladies & Gentlespoons.. Mr Dave Appleby

Dave Appleby

Unlike some other Dave’s my running history goes back quite a few years. I was one of those who were bitten by the first Great North Run Bug back in 1981. I was 17 and it was something new and a bit different. The running boom was just beginning to gather a bit of momentum and we were going to have a massive race in our own back yard and I thought I could be part of it. So with a little bit of training, and I mean a little bit, basically running a few miles a couple of times with a mate from school. I rolled up on the morning of the race in June 1981 and managed to get round in 1hr 37mins. I didn’t think much of it at the time. I didn’t think it was too hard, I wasn’t in agony, I managed to get on one of the first buses out of Shields and to top it all I was the proud owner of a natty pale brown Thorn EMI Gas Heating Great North Run 1981 T Shirt, very smart. It turned out that I crossed the line with a guy from the Council where I had started work the month before.

Discussing the performances the following day it emerged that another guy at work was Doug Cockburn a top local athlete and sub 2.20 marathon runner from Morpeth Harriers. Doug told me that my time was actually pretty good and to try keep running. Similar to Mr Moirs midweek training group, Doug organised lunchtime runs from the Newcastle University PE centre, so I started running with them at lunchtimes. It was at this time that another Running Club was in the early stages of their development, Claremont Road Runners. They were also based at the PE centre so it seemed a natural progression to join them. Claremont at that time was very similar to TBH they were growing quickly, had some excellent runners and were filled with enthusiasm. My running improved rapidly and I was starting to run some half decent times. Landmarks for me were breaking the hour at the Croxdale 10 mile and breaking 1hr 18 mins for the Half Marathon at York. Unfortunately for Claremont many of their runners were improving beyond the expectations of club and were leaving for other Clubs, in a very short period of time they lost their best athletes to Morpeth, Gateshead and Elswick. I had been training on the track at Lightfoot Centre in Walker and some athletes from Elswick began to use the track whilst Gateshead was being re-laid it was therefore a straightforward move for me to join Elswick Harriers in 1987 along with another Claremont runner who was to become a North East Veteran legend, Mr Jimmy Bell. This move was ideal for me I was training in a group of athletes of similar abilities and was also fortunate enough to train with some top runners including Mike McLeod, Ieuan Ellis, Kirsty Wade, Jill Hunter and Steve Cram among numerous others.

Fast forward to 1992 and my running had continued to improve, the contrast to today is that to run a 32-33 min 10k was in 1992 would place you in the top 30 at best not the top 5, as it would today. Anyhow I targeted the GNR in 1992, it was combined with the first ever World Half Marathon Championships so I knew it would be fast, even behind the international athletes. Training went really well, peaking at 90 miles with some crazy sessions (all done with short recoveries -take note!). I was however interrupted by a ‘family planning operation’ three weeks before the race which was a bit of an inconvenience. I really wanted to get under 1hr 10mins so to do this I needed to run sub 5min 20sec miles, I had done a 53.30 min 10 miler a couple of times but this was a new target. The day came and off we went, I was in the pen behind the World Championship runners however even back then the pen was still populated by people who shouldn’t be in there, I’m sure I remember passing at least 1 collection bucket and a clown in the first 100 metres. Everything went well until 10 miles, I remember receiving a big cheer from family on the Tyne Bridge and from some Elswick Club members at Whitemare Pool roundabout, it was actually Blaydon Race winner Justina Heslops family. Then I hit the 10 mile mark, I can’t remember the exact time but know it was around high 52 low 53 mins so I was bang on target but then I went Bang, no reasons, no signs, no forewarning I just went. It was a horrible sensation knowing that I had done so much and still had 3 miles to go. I slowed dramatically to around 6 min pace eventually crossing the line in 1 hr 12 mins and 40 secs, I think I was in about 125th place. I was gutted knowing that I had got so close but was still so far away. I actually missed out on being selected to run for the North East in a Half Marathon in France by less than 30 secs.

I continued to run for a couple more years still clocking fairly ok times but eventually lost interest in 1995 and completely chucked running at that time. No rational explanation I just lost my passion for running. I spent the next 12 years in the running wilderness, never losing interest but not being competitive. In 2007 I decided to try and give running another shot, inspired by Jimmy Bell who had been diagnosed with Cancer but was still running. I rejoined Elswick Harriers mainly because I still had the vest and it still fitted, I always thought I would be able to get back to a decent standard pretty quickly. How wrong I was, it proved to be a hard slog and to be honest I never became re-motivated at Elswick.

The formation of Tyne Bridge Harriers in January 2011 proved to be a catalyst for change for me. I had known Micky Baker since I was a kid and knew that the Club was being formed. I was quite keen to be part of something new again thinking it would give me the incentive to get back into some decent training. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the Parkrun results where TBH made their debut; the times were around the 17 min mark which I where I was aiming for. I started training with TBH in February and I knew straight away that something special was being created. It was the most friendly, helpful and encouraging Club that I have been a part of. My times have improved, not as much as I had hoped but I am getting there, I completed my first Marathon in 3.02 supported by TBH members and I am confident that 2012 will prove to be successful on a personal and Club level. London Marathon beckons in April and I am hoping for a sub 3 hrs and I am sure that with the helps and support of fellow TBH members I will get there. You are part of a special Club enjoy it and make the most of it, use experienced members for advice and encouragement they always deliver.

Dave Appleby

Permanent link to this article:


Skip to comment form

    • Paul Hilton on 20th December 2011 at 07:22
    • Reply

    The Fruit of the Daves- Apples, probably knows more about running than any of us at TBH, you need something answered about the local running scene or want to find out about any local race or Athlete , Apples is the 1 to see.

    We will all be behind you in your quest for the sub 3hrs in April at London Marathon.
    Your a great bloke Apples and you have probably posted the best times in our club and are still running at 80% age grading .

    Even when you have a **** run you dont let it get to you and can have a laugh .(had to get that 1 in Dave!)

    • Cat on 20th December 2011 at 08:53
    • Reply

    What a great read, great to hear about your history of running too, wow – had no idea… !

    I’ll be eating your dust at the VLM! All the best with training… can only be onwards and upwards for you i think :)

    • Double D on 20th December 2011 at 09:08
    • Reply

    All hail the mighty Apples!! A fantastic read Dave, and some times there that I could only ever dream about. Hopefully TBH will have help you achieve your target of sub 3 hours at London.

    • Deka on 20th December 2011 at 10:37
    • Reply

    excellent report dave to even think of them times is amazing i am sure the sub 3 hours is just around the corner.

    • kenny mac on 20th December 2011 at 11:10
    • Reply

    Dave, you are always first to go back down the hill and raring to go for your next hill rep, quick recoveries rather like a Kenyan hill session, I am going to try that know. You need to take up the next Leadership course, I think you would be a natural. Your steadiness navigating through the first few few months of the clubs existence was noted by all, a pleasure to know you.


    • Denise on 20th December 2011 at 21:01
    • Reply

    This is an account which really says it all! Experience, fantastic times, commitment and yet still a hunger to better yourself. What an inspiration! Good luck with your running in 2012 Dave.

    • dan b on 20th December 2011 at 22:11
    • Reply

    and big thanks to Apples – a great club member, always encouraging, always happy to see others around him improving, a;ways motivated, and a great fella to run with. just need to get that t-shirt with a big target on the back sorted for you, Apples ….

  1. Cracking report Dave, a true quality that I strive to become.

    • Sean Kelly on 21st December 2011 at 19:48
    • Reply

    That short piece of writing is packed full of useful insights for all runners who want to fulfill their potential. This David is a vital member of TBH, not only for his experience but also his ability to say the right thing at the right time. He can pick you up when you’re going through a bad patch and he can guide you to achieve your best when in top form. He’s also a lovely bloke. I also enjoy listening to him and Keith Smith winding each other up!

    • Brother Louis on 22nd December 2011 at 17:13
    • Reply

    Fantastic training partner. Always encouraging and knows more about running than Mike Ashley knows about cost cutting. I’ve benefited so much from Apples’ knowledge and above all, just enjoy the craic out on our runs. And surely he must be at the top or pretty damn close on the age grading!

    Top man

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published.

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