Alf Brown 1915 - 2003
Honorary Vice President

Alf was born in Cwm Bach, Aberdare, South Wales on 14 September 1915. He was proud to be Welsh.
His hobbies were Gardening, Landscape Painting, Photography and Inventing. His favourite TV programme's included Documentaries, Gardening, Animals, Football and Rugby. As for music he was into Classical and easy listening. During the war he joined the 2nd Battalion of the Beds and Herts. Regiment between June 1940 and May 1946. He worked as an engineer and took up running on retirement joining Striders almost at their formation in 1982. His membership number was 32 out of a current 600 plus. Alf was a special kind of person, someone with whom you could relate, discuss your race preparation, your race successes and failures, your day at the office, your home, your family and friends, just about anything. It didn't’t really matter, Alf would listen and throw in his own two pennyworth. He was interested in your everyday life. Alf enjoyed his running and it showed. He never stopped or walked in a race ever. He was not someone who would boast about what he had achieved, and he achieved some remarkable runs given his late start in life. But if you asked he would be only too happy to oblige. Alf was not a ‘winger’ either. You would never hear him complain about a disastrous training run or a poor race - he would simply set his goal for the next one and get on with it. You could not hold a conversation with Alf whilst out running either as he was not renowned for being talkative during a run. If you were lucky you might get the occasional “YEP” or “NO” out of him but that was all. He was totally focused. He particularly enjoyed the social side of running. He would often be found in the cafeteria talking with his friends. We were particularly proud to have him present the trophies at our annual awards evening. In 1985 Alf ran the London Marathon with Fred and had his picture proudly published in the local paper. He was 69 Alf ran many races including several marathons and he enjoyed the camaraderie of the occasion. He kept the number of every race he entered. His favourite race was the Cynon Valley Half Marathon He particularly enjoyed the club trips to races not only for the race but also the social banter, a chat about the family, training, the anticipation of the race ahead, these were often the focal point of the conversation. Alf was very proud of his family and of his beloved grandchildren James, Lisa and Robyn. They often became the topic of conversation and he was very excited about the prospect of visiting Fred, Cathy and the family in America, something he finally achieved in 2002. In 1992 when Alf was 77 he did something that could only be described as phenomenal. In the March he ran the Luton 20 (miles), in April he ran the London Marathon and to cap it all, in July he ran the Luton Marathon and finished on a blistering hot day. All this in the space of four months. I can not think of many people half his age wanting to do that but Alf did it with great determination and aplomb. A lot of runners struggled on that hot July day and so did Alf but typical of him, he did not make much fuss about it.

He also recorded some phenomenal PB’s worthy of mention:-
10 miles 82 min's Age 70
Half Marathon 1hr 50mins Age 69
Marathon 4hr 29mins Age 70

I think this exemplary record for a man of his age speaks volumes. Alf was incredibly fit for his age. He could still touch the ground with the palms of his hands at 82. His mind was incredibly sharp as well. He could recall a PB or running performance you told him about some years previously at the drop of a hat .Alf continued running regularly until he contracted pneumonia about 8-10 years ago. He remained a loyal member of the club supporting his friends whenever and wherever he could. In his honour the club organised a race and called it the ‘Alf Brown Trophy Run’ held once a year where the fastest and slowest members of the club are handicapped to compete against each other. The Alf Brown Trophy is awarded to the winner. This is a regular feature in our running calendar. Alf was made an Honorary Vice President of this club in recognition of his unstinting support for the club.  Alf looked forward to Monday and Thursday nights so he could be with his friends whom he regarded as his second family. He will be sadly missed and will be fondly remembered by all who knew him. Alf would have wished to express particular thanks and gratitude to two of his dearest friends Pauline and Dennis Plater. Pauline and Dennis regularly ferried Alf to and from the club, to races and willingly helped him in any way they could. Alf regarded his life rather like a marathon – slow and steady – and he has now completed his last marathon.

David Young
02 January 2004
With thanks for research and contributions from Pauline Plater, Helen Morris, Bill Barrett and Karen Ashby

One could write volumes about the man, this is one story, my story. North of Aberdare lies the Cynon Valley and below that the Rhondda. Sunday morning 15th July 1984 the Cynon  Valley Half Marathon. By a strange coincidence I was there for the event. Looking around I was surprised to see Alf, waving in the distance all smiles. I gave him a warm handshake, wonders never cease. It was then he told me with pride and identity this was where he was born and that he left Luton at 3am that morning to drive down for the race. An achievement in itself. Elite runners up front, the late well known Madge Sharples was also there. Then behind a crocodile of runners Alf and I full of energy and determination. We may have not run like the wind, steady going, we reached Madge, we were interested in her success. Everyone flocked around Madge like a swarm of bees in June. I was privileged to have run with Madge and Alf. That year Madge told us about her race in Russia and the London Marathon, Her travels and her book. Every now and then she would lift her hands in a friendly gesture cheered on by the crowd who lined the streets. Madge was the centre of attention. Time for Alf and me to move 'BORE DA' Madge nice talking to you. Alf a man of few words looked at me and thought I had lost my senses. Friendly town, friendly people "When I was a boy, Breda we used to wonder through the woods up there, on the hill is were I lived with my brothers and sister". I liked the course beautiful views, the downhill's were harder then the up hills. Not far away were the mines now closed one by one, land of rugby, poets and minstrels. Water stations and mile markers behind us the finish in sight, shouts from well wishers. Alf recorded a personal best we were delighted with our memento and the hospitality, tea and buns. Club event next year "we will come by coach" Alf smiled we bid our goodbye.

Happy memories, happy times, great friendship only runners know.
Breda Haughton
2nd February 2004

ALFRED BROWN 1915-2003
It was Alf who got me started way back on a very hot June evening in 1983. I thought it would be a doodle as I played a lot of sport, but I was wrong! Alf took me over the field past the tennis court to the"National" hill by which time I had to walk, being well out of breath. But Alf was so considerate & encouraging that within 3 months I was totally hooked & we completed the Luton 10 miles. Many more runs & races were to be achieved with Alf or his help, all good, & it was a sad day when he was no longer able to run himself, though the interest & encouragement were still there. His continued friendship, advice and support was much valued and appreciated.

 Alf was always interesting to talk to. His memory was brilliant and he could tell some good stories. in the few years that Alf ran, he gave it his all. I remember him telling me that when Fred told him he should cut down and take care, he would for example, go and do the Reading 1/2, then ring Fred when he got home AFTER the race with the news of what he had done.

 You can judge Alf's popularity with the ladies (in the nicest way possible). He was the only male present at the Ladies Annual Dinner for many years. You can guess he came in for some leg pulling but he loved it.

 Alf. Friend, mentor, fellow runner,
I will never forget you.

 That's not the way to start a race

 I have taken part in a lot of runs with Alf, the Luton 20, Stondon Stomp, Hemel 10, Standalone 10K to name a few, but the run I remember best was the Robin Hood Half Marathon we did together.

 Den, Alf and I set off from Luton at about 06:00, leaving lots of time to get there. We stopped for coffee then set off again for Nottingham where we parked the car in a supermarket car park about a mile from the start.

Halfway there and Alf says "If we don't run, we won't make it to the start on time," so off we ran leaving Den to make his own way there.

We took a short cut through Queen Elizabeth Park. We'd got in all right, but do you think we could find the way out? Could we heck! There we were, running round like headless chickens trying to find the exit when we heard the gun go to start the race. Panic set in and we started getting ready for the race, pulling off jumpers and pinning on numbers. How we got out of the park I don't know, but we did and then ran to the baggage tent where we chucked our bags at the lads there. We then raced to the start, only to see the last runners disappear out of the gates. The marshal said it was ok to start, but we would have to take our own times, so off we went catching runners along the way.

As Alf only ever answered "yep" or "nope", conversation was scarce, which as you know, is very unusual for me. Thanks to Alf, we never stopped running and finally crossed the finish, and it was then that we discovered I had achieved a P.B. of 2:15.

As we collected our souvenir lace, Alf looked at me, smiled, and said, "That's not the way to start a race." It may not be, but it certainly had the desired effect

Thanks to my dear friend Alf, I have loads of happy memories.
Run in peace

Tribute To Alf Brown

 Alf passed away on Christmas morning and he will be very sadly missed.

 I don't think you would find a Strider old or new at the club who would have a bad word to say about him. He was a person who took his running very seriously and at the same time enjoyed it. After he was not able to run himself, he loved to go and watch the races and support the Striders.

 He always had time to talk to everyone and give advice when people asked him for it. He could tell you all the routes for training at all distances from 5k upwards.

 The one story I remember about him is:- One night he was at the ladies night out (the only male member to be invited). There were some Americans at the restaurant. When they talked to him, he said that all the ladies were his daughters. Said it with such a straight face that they believed him.

 All I can say, he was a credit to the club and we should be and are very proud to have known him.
 Keep running Alf.


Christmas day he left us,
No time to say good bye.
He is now with another club,
St Peter's in the sky.

Training for a marathon
Their is no going back,
Taken part in cross country
Or running on the track.

A summer evening on a Thursday in July,
His first memorial race.
Did that rain come down !
As Stopsley Striders
Come December we remember
Our running friend Alf Brown 1915 - 2003

Dec 2004