Sidmouth runner Bill turns 60 at world championships

PUBLISHED: 19:03 15 August 2009 | UPDATED: 09:57 18 June 2010

WELL-KNOWN as the lollipop man for All Saints Infants, Sidmouth runner Bill Valentine celebrated his 60th birthday while in Finland to compete in the World s Masters (Veterans) Athletics Championships.

WELL-KNOWN as the lollipop man for All Saints Infants, Sidmouth runner Bill Valentine celebrated his 60th birthday while in Finland to compete in the World's Masters (Veterans) Athletics Championships.

Bachelor Bill, from Manstone Avenue, had his birthday while competing in the eight kilometre cross-country, 5,000 and 10,000 metre races at Stadia Lahti.

HeBill was part of the four-man team aged 55 and over, and although he was a non-scorer in the cross-country competition, coming 42nd with a time of 39.09, the team was fourth overall, with Nigel Gates winning the race in 27.24.

Bill, who was 60 on August 5, said: "Nigel used to be a club mate of mine at Bath where I worked at the technical college."

Of the race he said: "There were five or six guys behind me and they were all younger than me."

Having suffered with an injury most of this year, Bill was "not on top form" and hopes to be on better form for next year's championships.

He came 11th in his heat for the 10,000 metres and 18th in the 5,000 heat.

Bill, one of the founding members of Sidmouth Running Club after moving to Sidmouth in 1999, said: "In the 10,000m I caught up with three laps to go, so it was pretty close. I was ahead by one-and-a-half laps at the finish and wasn't happy I didn't go in 49 minutes. I was the oldest in the race," he said.

However, a minute ahead of the back marker, he clocked a time of 49.02.

Sidmouth festival run was Bill's brainchild eight years ago and he has helped organise them all.

"I have done running all my life and competed all my life, I still do, you make friends for life from all over the world. I have made friends from Argentina, Germany, Australia, wherever I have gone.

"You are never lonely when you are running; the loneliness of a long distance runner is a myth because you can always find someone to run with.

"You are at one with nature when you are out running by the sea, that is what I like. At 60 I am still competing."

Bill retires from his job as caretaker at All Saints but plans to spend his spare time running and doing other things, as well as remaining its lollypop man.


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