06/07/2020 00:00, In Blog /

Four decades ago, a young Cardiff runner was re-writing the record books. His name was Dave James. Possibly his best performance came in the Talbot Games 2 miles at Crystal Palace in 1980. Even though 2 miles is a rarely run distance, no Welshman have ever come near it, and the calibre of the field speaks for itself. Dave recalls:

"Incredibly fast paced race won by Dave Moorcroft. Went through one mile in 4:08 thanks to Filbert Bayi, which was fast! Hung on for the whole race - wish I'd beaten Brendan Foster - there was a tenth of a second in it. In Athletics Weekly of November 1980 they ranked me 8th in the world 3000 metres rankings with a converted time of 7:43.3".


Friday 27 June 1980 Talbot Games at Crystal Palace – 2 Miles                                                                                                       

1. Dave Moorcroft 8:18.6                                              9. Julian Goater 8:26.8                               17. Andy Catton 8:44.3.

 2. Nat Muir 8:19.4                                                      10. Steve Binns 8:27.0

 3. Filbert Bayi (TAN) 8:19.5                                       11. Mick McLeod 8:32.5

 4. Brendan Foster 8:20.2                                          12. Richard Callan 8:36.7

 5. Dave James 8:20.3                                              13. Dave Fitzsimons (AUS) 8:38.9

 6. Barry Smith 8:21.1                                               14. Malcolm Prince 8:40.0

 7. Geoff Smith 8:23.6                                               15. Andy Armitage 8:43.8

 8. Steve Jones 8:26.8                                              16. Guy McCallum 8:44.2


Earlier that year, on 26 May, Dave set a Welsh National and Welsh Allcomers record of 7:46.95 in the 3000 metres  in the Welsh Games at Cwmbran. It remains the fastest time on Welsh soil over the distance and on 4 July in an invitation 5000 metres in the Hague, Dave set his PB of 13:33.91. It remains the fifth fastest performance by a Welshman, and all 3 performances are Cardiff AAC records.

As any distance runner will testify, the preceding winter is where the groundwork for such performances is created, and on 29 March 1980, Dave won the World Student Cross Country Championship in Coleraine, Northern Ireland. There were a number of very well-known German athletes in the field, as well as Brits -

Nick Brawn (2nd), Dave Clarke (4th), Kevin Forster (6th) and Tony Milosorov (9th).

Sadly, Dave's competitive career at the top was short-lived due to persistent injury. But there is a happy ending. He was persuaded to come out of "retirement" in 2012 at the age of 54

"just for enjoyment". 

His class showed straight away, and he made an emotional  return to international running when he competed for Welsh Masters in the British & Irish Masters International Cross Country in Belfast in November 2012. It was Dave's first visit to Northern Ireland of any description since that win in Coleraine.

Nowadays you'll have seen Dave on the track, on the country, and since turning 60 he's even done a couple of marathons, in Porto and Valencia. He is still a man for all seasons.