Lovelock Relays team record celebrates 50 years
But for 50 years, they have all failed.
Tomorrow will mark half a century since the senior men’s record was last broken, as this year’s edition of the event is held at the University of Otago Oval.
Several members of this team will be on hand to remember the achievement, in which the team ran the 6x1500m race in 24min 12.6sec.
Most importantly, there was depth in the band of Lindsay Dey, Alistair Stewart, Stuart Melville, Bruce Beath, Trevor Sutherland and Keith Darling.
The six riders timed between 3min 57sec and 4min 06sec – not bad on a grass track.
The 50-year record shows how impressive the race has been.
“I think the fact that the record has lasted this long is incredible,” said Dey.
“It doesn’t happen in many sports.
“I think we were fortunate in the 70s to have a very strong team and the sport was very strong then.”
The team already held the 24min 20sec record, having established this mark in 1969.
Trained by Alistair McMurran, he trained using the Lydiard Method, which Dey said had been the key to quality. As part of the preparation for the 1971 event, he had successfully participated in several events.
Beath said just being a part of the University of Otago squad was a tough task and for him it was as important as breaking the record.
The pitch was in good shape and the team had used the cricket rollers and brought in a lawn mower to cut the grass on the inside lane.
The varsity team took the lead and finished 32 seconds ahead of the University of Canterbury second team.
Keeping the pace in the middle legs was key.
All six members are still alive.
Dey is a competitive triathlete, while Beath has taken up bowling and remains active.
Stewart lives in Auckland and is still competitive in orienteering, while Sutherland is in Tauranga and is still active.
Darling runs a farm near Nelson and Melville is an accountant in Dunedin.
Will their case be threatened anytime soon? Dey and Beath both felt that the team atmosphere that existed then was not as prevalent now.
Beath felt the best chance of a record today was with Hill City-University’s Oli Chignell, who could threaten Andrew Stark’s fastest individual stage of 3 minutes 52 seconds set in 1980.
However, Dey said he would be delighted if the record was eventually broken.
“I would be extremely happy to see him disappear.
“If we could get the resurgence of a bunch of athletes who could all do about 4 minutes that would be wonderful.”