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Thread: Loughborough

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    Loughborough

    It has occurred to me that there have been several current or recent top fell runners who have studied at Loughborough University: Sam Tosh, Joe Dugdale, Billy Cartwright, Harry Bolton. Has word got around that Loughborough has the best fell-running facilities of any university in the Midlands, in terms of the hills that are available within a moderate-length run starting and finishing on the campus?

    The Loughborough campus is not quite as well situated as my present abode for the delights of the Outwoods, Buck Hill and Beacon Hill; but at my peak I could sometimes manage a circuit including these three features within 60 minutes from the centre of the campus. Some of the gentlemen mentioned above would be pushing 50 minutes for that route, which has around 260m of climbing.
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    Master Travs's Avatar
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    It does have the reputation for athletic excellence. As you know, they are extremely prominent in the Cross Country.

    Although currently Birmingham University are upstaging them a little.

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    Master ba-ba's Avatar
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    St. Mary's Birmingham and Loughbrough tends to be the order.
    As I recall it, Billy was on a remote course so maybe doesn't count.
    Nic Barber. Downhill Dandy

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    Loughborough has an endurance running tradition.
    Coe was at Loughborough and Frank Dick, one of the top endurance coaches of his generation was based there - still is I think.
    It does attract good runners because of the tradition and the bursary support available, but I'm not convinced it's the right place to go. More than you would expect seem to get injured. The move from your own club, where you've often been for 5-10 years with your own coach, to just being just another runner in an elite squad with a coach who's only interested in having a couple of top flight internationals to brag about doesn't seem to develop athletes as one would expect.
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    Master ba-ba's Avatar
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    I think it's important for teenagers to be presented both sides of the coin and seek advice from several points around this kind of choice.

    Collegiate-style training squads (especially in the US) can have a 'bring in enough meat, stress them hard, we'll get a couple of stellar athletes out the other end, to hell with the collateral' aspect. Then again, the opportunity to travel, live in a different country, gain an (further) education, broaden horizons (academically, culturally and sportingly) can't be discounted.

    Staying at home has its benefits (safe, known coaching set-up, parental support, can pursue other working interests if you so wish).

    I think there's a bit of survivorship bias amongst those who come out of both systems as top-level athletes - e.g. on the collegiate side you've got the likes of Marc Scott, Pat Dever (though not seen him since last summer - saving himself for track or injured?), Chris O'Hare, Andy Heyes; On the home side you have the likes of Andy Butchart, Jonny Mellor. A good coach will know that the chance of making a living from athletics are small, and should not just advise their young charges on training, but have their best life-interests at heart. Maybe going to the US and experiencing different things is part of that; maybe it isn't. It's different for everyone and a hard choice to make aged 18-22.

    From the Loughborough point of view - it may not be a hill/fell running mecca, but a few years training on the flat, building aerobic strength, leg speed etc., all feeds into being a good fell runner - you can't get from Pillar to Ennerdale scout camp quickly without leg speed and an aerobic base!
    Last edited by ba-ba; 10-01-2022 at 09:52 AM.
    Nic Barber. Downhill Dandy

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    Quote Originally Posted by ba-ba View Post

    From the Loughborough point of view - it may not be a hill/fell running mecca, but a few years training on the flat, building aerobic strength, leg speed etc., all feeds into being a good fell runner - you can't get from Pillar to Ennerdale scout camp quickly without leg speed and an aerobic base!
    But one of the points of my original post was that, as a location, Loughborough is surprisingly good for fell-specific training. Although maybe not if you come from West Cumbria: Joe Dugdale complains of the flatness of Leicestershire, and getting bored with the one hill: https://www.inov-8.com/blog/joe-dugdale-world-champion/ (but I have lived here for 34 years, and still am not bored with the "one hill"). Anyway, your point about needing to work on aerobic strength, leg speed, etc. is certainly valid.

    Incidentally, whereas the publicity machine at Loughborough University is usually very hot on advertising the sporting achievements of the students, they were completely unaware of Joe Dugdale being World Junior Mountain Running Champion until I told them!
    In his lifetime he suffered from unreality, as do so many Englishmen.
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    Master Travs's Avatar
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    There's a girl at our club who did a scholarship at an American college.... i think she may be a steeplechase specialist...

    She's certainly seeing the benefit... i recall racing against her at Fairfield Horseshoe a few years back when she was back for holidays... she suffered from not having the strength after a solid year of only track training.... but she's reaping the benefits now, putting up some good times on 3000/5000mtrs, and won the last league XC race by an absolute street.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Witton Park View Post
    It does attract good runners because of the tradition and the bursary support available, but I'm not convinced it's the right place to go. More than you would expect seem to get injured.
    Oh hey, I went to Loughborough* and now I'm injured**.

    As a regular kind of chap I was kinda "intimidated out" of the sports teams there, so just hacked about on my own. Arriving off the back of an injury and spell of (what was in retrospect) depression and hence unfit didn't help. I did enjoy playing in their fancy facilities though. Learning to swim properly in their long pool was fun.
    Thoroughly enjoyed my time at Loughborough Uni, made great friends, and it is one of the few things I can look back on and categorically say "yes, that was a good decision I made".


    *For the engineering not sports though.

    **I suspect my activities a few months ago have more to do with this than my university (ahem) years ago.

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