Are you inspired by Alex Vero's ambitions, or slightly insulted?

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18/03/2008 at 12:06

This thread was silent for months and now it's alive I like it hahaha...


18/03/2008 at 12:21

Being a still fat runner after two years of running... having never run before... still getting PBs but nowhere near all you fast uns... I quite like Alex. I'm interested. Arrogance? I think a lot of faster, not quite elite, but good club runners can come across as a little arrogant whilst quoting their times. Live and let live. Alex has created some interest. How many non fast, nowhere near elite nor even club standard runners would find a documentary about an 18 year-old relatively fast club runner trying to break into elite standard interesting?

Which can the majority of amateur runners truely relate to? A fat beginner starting on a quest and showing the type of progress that we feel (even if it is a wrong assumption) is fantastic or a speedy youngster inching towards his/her goal from a position that most of us know we will never, ever be at?

Sorry guys and gals but I think there is a lot of indignation and arrogance around on both sides and not enough acknowledging this for what it is... a documentary maker trying to make his documentary as interesting for Joe Public Runners as possible.

Run and let run

18/03/2008 at 12:22

There are really some excellent posts on this thread - Bryn, Alex (himself), Popsider etc but I really think some people of got an axe to grind with Alex for whatever personal reasons I don't know.

I personally think Alex's chance of making Bejing was very remote if almost impossible....but NOT impossible. It would have been an amazing story had it all came together. Sub 2.15 in under 2 and half years from a couch potato start was a big ask . However, if you don't aim high you won't reach your own ambitions.

Also, I think his story just reinforces the effort and training that is required for "Joe Public" to run a good Marathon time and not belittles them.

Fair to play to anyone who comes out with their targets and a training plan/regime to get there. I'm sure it does inspire many other people when you hear of a someone who has a ran a 4 hour plus marathon now running sub 3 hours.

I can't wait to see the documentary, I think it will be really interesting. The proof will be in the pudding as they say.

Anyone willing to pay me to go sub 2.30 or 2.15 from a 3.09 marathon? Well, if you don't ask you don't get!

18/03/2008 at 13:09
all right - £50 if you do it by 31/12/2010
18/03/2008 at 13:32

I'm just interested in what he's done.

He's done well in what he's achieved so far.

Okay he ain't going to be in the British Olympic marathon team, but the documentary should be interesting.

18/03/2008 at 13:50

at the risk of asking the bleedin obvious when is the progamme/documentary due to go out? sometime just before the Olympics i imagine.

love the idea or loathe it, the problem that i forsee, is the potential audience for the piece. we are all interested in running but is joe public? remember this is the public who watch dancing on ice etc.

i will be interested to see any trailer (or whatever they are called) that is produced. i imagine as a film maker the name of the game is to get shed loads of viewers and or publicity. Alex has to therefore simplify marathon running in order to make the issues easily and quickly understood by the potential viewer. in so doing (with his initial stated aims) he has inadvertently put some noses out of joint.

my 2 penneth - good luck to him. he could not possibly have thought of a more knackering documentary to make. Cant fault him for immersing himself in his work. My hunch is that he never really believed he would make the plane to Bejing.

good thread though. nice bit of needle. keeps me awake at work!

18/03/2008 at 13:56
Sean, I probably do have an axe to grind, albeit very small and rather blunt. It’s embodied in your phrase “However, if you don't aim high you won't reach your own ambitions”  I think it’s much more sensible setting a realistic target that can be sensibly planned for and achieved. Then you can set your next target and so on.The alternative is the frustration, disappointment and sense of failure that arises from trying to attain the unattainable. I’ve never set myself long term targets, preferring only to think about my next race basing my performance expectations on my current training.  Similarly I don’t chase PBs, preferring to rely on the best performance that comes out of hard training and good preparation.
18/03/2008 at 15:57
The Road to Milton Keynes.

"Filmmaker Alex Vero's ambitious attempt to do a sub-35 minute 10k in his local club race - As an obese filmmaker weighing over 16 stone in January 2006 and an averagely talented runner I have totally immersed myself in the project in an attempt to beat Tom, BrynR and James Gilbert 2 in the Milton Keynes 10k".

It does seem to be missing something, doesn't it?
18/03/2008 at 16:27

Pug - I agree, it's been a great thread.

It was timely to revive this thread now as (based on the original premise), Vero has failed to run under 2:15, or finish in the top three UK men, or be selected for Beijing. The doubters were right. Hence, it is the end of the road to Beijing and we can draw a line under it.

Or so we thought, since it transpires that it will now be the Road to Amsterdam (or MK as alhill suggests). I must admit that I'm slightly confused now and it would be good to get the Great One to answer Glennzo's question about when the film will be shown, given that the Beijing Olympics will have been and gone by the time of the Amsterdam marathon.

To counter the somewhat fatuous (sorry for the pun) argument that "if only one person takes up running as a result of seeing the film, it'll be worth it [blah blah}", would it still be worth it if an equal number of people get put off running by it?

Imagine there are some youngsters out there now who have a mind to run for UK at the London Olympics. Can't be that hard, no skill required, just a case of doing the training. Then they see the film and realise that after two years of effort and dieting, being advised by some of the best coaches in the business, access to many of the top athletes, getting paid to do it, all you're left with is a 2:58 marathon and a good club-standard half-marathon time. No glory, no riches, no fast cars.

How many of those wil be saying "No thanks mate, we'll go back to eating pies"?

18/03/2008 at 16:54

Alhill, nice one.......chuckle

Alex,  hope that after the film is made you stick with the running and that you get satisfaction from it.

Realistically the best that most of us aspire to is being a good club runner and to earn the respect of our fellow competitors.....that's good enough for me.

18/03/2008 at 17:10
I am actually on Alex's side. Making a documentary about club runners is hardly going to get him an Emmy award. He has to be audacious and aim for something incredible.

I'm looking forward to watching the documentary.
18/03/2008 at 21:05
Sean G -

No axe to grind, but I have to admit to a certain amount schadenfreude when someone comes into a sport as a novice and announces to the world that they are going to do this or that and then fails to live up to their own hype.

Mean-spirited? Who hasn’t laughed at the pompous, self-important Andy Millman in Extras (remember the David Bowie song)? Most of us secretly like to see the bullsh%t merchants get their come-uppance.

One of the great things about the marathon is that there are no short cuts, even for the supremely talented, and that things don’t always go to plan. True athletes know that, and, in contrast to other disciplines, it’s rare to find an elite marathoner who indulges in the type of testosterone-fuelled behaviour you often see exhibited by sprinters or shot-putters.

I knew that Hero Vero wasn’t going to run 2:15 or get selected for anything, just as Tom knew that Pantman wasn’t going to run 10 miles in 50 minutes (and even put his money where his mouth was). So what if people find such claims inspiring? Judging by the comments people have made here, they’re not going to be influenced by me telling them it’s all a load of tosh. Let them believe it if they like. I’ll carry on putting my point of view. Don’t like it? Then don’t read it, as certain people are fond of saying to me.

18/03/2008 at 23:30

"Hero Vero"... I like it

Points of View are good... especially conflicting... but tolerance of those views is the real deal... lets accept that we all see different perspectives of the same situation and that we are all different in our reading of the situation.

Is it still St Pat's day? I definately shouldn't have had that last pint! But, hey, I am going to run a 44min 10.5K on Saturday... thats my target... yipeeee! Ooooops, just realised that isn't quite up to this thread standard Ah well, good for me... now, where is that pint of Carlsberg? (should be Guinness but have bunged up bum from all that Guinness last night!).

Run hard, run soft, run well

19/03/2008 at 10:11


Good replies.

Forgetting "Hero Alex" for a moment.....but do you think that it is possible for couch potato "Joe Public" to be a sub 2.30 or sub 2.15 marathon runner in 2 years or so?

At best,  would it be along shot 100/1 or 1000/1 even? However, given the fact that you now no longer have to do a 40 hour standard working week (plus commute) behind your work desk the odds must tumble quite considerable.

I think Alex's project was a good and very interesting one but something he couldn't really legislate for was injury. I guess some people just can't take the volume of high mileage that is required to make the grade or step up to the next level.

I would also say that is better to have tired and failed than to have never tried at matter how ridiculous the challenge may have seemed to others.

19/03/2008 at 10:39

It does seem odd that Alex started off this project with the publicly stated aim that he was aiming at Olympic selection for Beijing and nothing else was mentioned yet if you now look at his trailers, everything changed in the blink of an eye when he went to Ethiopia earlier this year and saw that a lowly bell-boy at his hotel was a 2:10 marathon runner.

Now all the emphasis of the documentary appears to be more veering towards an exploration of the decline of British long-distance running vs the rise in obesity of the general populus and the explosion of Kenyan/Ethipoian runners. Also, the amazingly fortuitous chance meeting of the bell boy gives Alex a great human interest story if he can get him into a European HM or marathon race and (hopefully) record him winning.

It also shows how much dedication and talent is actually needed to be an elite endurance athlete.

If Alex can get this across then fair play to him. I think he had a major wake-up call in Ethiopia when he was taken out training by Abele the bell boy and giving a right good kicking by his own accounts. After almost 2 years of hard graft, the vast difference in talent and ability must have been mortifying?

19/03/2008 at 10:53

the amazingly fortuitous chance meeting of the bell boy

Not hindered by knowledge of the facts, I interpret this somewhat differently. Talented runner seeks opportunities and gets himself a job as a bell boy in a hotel frequented by runners and entourage, thus increasing his chances of meeting people why might help him start a career.
If Alex can do this for this guy, kudos to Alex, but I like the ethiopean guy already for his attempts to make his own luck.

Further I hope Alex comes out of this with love for the sport (I'm a bit annoyed with his declaration to move to triathlon already) and more importantly a good documentary. I look forward to watching it.

Edited: 19/03/2008 at 10:54
19/03/2008 at 11:12
Imski - Alex should have gone on a training camp to Kenya but due to the recent outbreaks of violence he cancelled it and went to Ethiopia instead where by (his own) good luck he met a bell boy who can belt out a 2:10 marathon. Yes you're right, the bell boy made his own good luck by being there in the first place but if all had gone to plan, ALex wouldn't have been there in the first place.
19/03/2008 at 11:28

I agree with MM Vero has moved the goal posts somewhat regards to the Road to Beijing.

From the off I said he'd never do it.

I'm a mediocre runner at best, but due to being lazy, easily distracted, etc I've never got anywhere near reaching my potential, but I know I could run a damn sight quicker if I have the commitment and dedication that Vero has shown over the last 2.5 years and for that I applaud him, irrespective of the reasons behind his challenge.

I'd still watch the film as it would be interesting.

(after reading his updates a while a go about his triathloning whilst injured I said to Pugheaven that he was going to fail at London and go on to make a new docu "the Road to Kona")

19/03/2008 at 14:02


 I found your article in Runner's World inspiring and will definitely watch the documentary.

 I've never run a race before (apart from being made to run at primary school) but decided in January to train for a half marathon in September with a couple of 10k runs planned on the way. I took out a subscription to Runner's World and found that stories like yours and even Granny Denny's in the FLM Dream Team make me think that a marathon is possible for a normal middle-aged person such as myself.  I'm loving it so far and am definitely getting the bug.

Take no notice of the detractors. Some of the comments come across to a newcomer like me as a mixture of Tall Poppy Syndrome, schadenfreude and just plain jealousy at your audacious goal. 

As the saying goes, better to have tried and failed than to have never tried at all. I'm sure it will be an interesting documentary, even if you didn't make the Olympic team.

19/03/2008 at 14:17

Kent Girl, you're easily forgiven as you're new to the sport, but you can't simply say 'jealousy' when people correctly identify Alex' original aspirations as lunacy.

Alex' actual achievements are excellent and could certainly inspire folks, it's just the original outset of what he claimed he was going to do that rubbed some people the wrong way. I would refer to Hobbling Harrier's (Bryn) excellent post explaining things calmly and logically.

I actually recalled reading a bit of Gordon Pirie when I started running and looked it up.
Pirie himself was not exactly shy of yelling very ambitious targets off the rooftops and liked a challenge of proving the impossible possible himself, but he had the following to say on athlete development:

"A further factor contributing to the high failure rate of aspiring athletes is that most do not realise the time it takes to reach their maximum capabilities. It is not uncommon for promising youngsters to train with complete dedication for two or three years with one coach, and then, just as they are about to make a real breakthrough, get discouraged by their undramatic (but steady) progress - usually blaming their coach - and consequently change coaches or even give it all up in frustration."

"Finally, the example I like best is that of British Olympic Marathoner Barry Watson. Barry was just a good club runner in England in 1968 when he ran with our group, and when I left for New Zealand I forgot all about him. At the Montreal Olympic Games while I was training on the golf course near the Olympic Village with New Zealanders Anne Garratt (now Audain) and Tony Goode, however, “Lo and Behold!”, there was Barry Watson proudly bearing the Union Jack on his shirt.
His first words to me were: “Gordon, you are a liar! You said it takes six years of hard training to become a champion. It took me eight”. It had certainly taken Barry a bit longer than some, but he made it just the same. He was British Marathon Champion in 1976. I stick to that kind of yardstick. If you put in many years of hard work (with a little bit of luck and a lot of dedication), you will become a superb runner, but you have to realise it takes this long, and persevere."

This is a snippet out probably the most universally accepted chapter of Pirie's book 'Running fast and injury free' and if I read it, I'm sure a documentary maker fully immersing himself into his subject matter could find this too during his initial research.
This was never even close to happening over a 2 year period, even if by coincidence Alex was an extremely talented individual.

Edited: 19/03/2008 at 14:20
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