Meritorious Award for Roger Harrison Jones
Photo: Roger (centre) with Russell Godwin, Chair of the North Wales Cross Country League, and Bernie Jones, Secretary
ROGER HARRISON JONES
On Saturday 5th February 2022, Roger Harrison Jones was presented with the Welsh Athletics Meritorious Award following the North Wales Cross Country League at Oswestry.
The North Wales Cross Country League is the oldest cross country league in Wales and started in 1958. Roger Harrison Jones, then of Rhyl AC and now of Prestatyn RC, not only took part in that first race but actually won it. More than 63 years later Roger is still running in the league and still winning, even if it is only in his age group!
Roger says he has probably had three running careers, approximately 20 years apart, – he first started running in 1953; he started again when he was about 43/44 when he was persuaded to run the London Marathon in 1981 (he has a best of 2-49, although he wasn’t happy with that and thinks it should have been nearer 2-35); and his third running career started in his 60’s and has seen him win numerous North Wales, Wales, British and even World titles and medals.
In his first running career, Roger was reserve for Wales for the Empire Games 1958 (now the Commonwealth Games) and represented Wales in the International Cross Country Championship (forerunner to the World Cross Country Championships) on 5 occasions between 1959 and 1964 and was even made Captain of Wales in 1964, although his only job was to ask his Teammates what they wanted for breakfast!. Roger was very consistent finishing between 64th and 77th in the five races.
Roger continues to enjoy competition and on the last day before lockdown, 15th March 2019, when at 83 years young, Roger and fellow octogenarian David Tomlinson were sprinting down the finishing straight like spring chickens and fortunately Roger’s old half mile pace (he was a 1-57 half miler) kicked in and he won by one second.
After receiving his award on Saturday, something was bothering Roger so he went rummaging in the loft looking for old press cuttings as he could remember his father many years ago receiving something. He wasn’t and athlete but Roger remembers him enjoying admin etc. He found a photo and short press cutting indicating that in 1962 his father Llew Harrison Jones, who was the North Wales AAA Secretary, had received the Meritorious Award at the 1962 Welsh AAA Annual Meeting.
I’m sure there are other families where more than one member has received the Meritorious Award but I’m certain there can’t be another father and son who have received their awards 60 years apart. Roger’s longevity in the sport is incredible. His passion is infectious; his achievements in his early career and in his Masters career are outstanding; he is an inspiration; and if you’ve ever got time to talk to Roger, he’s got some fantastic stories about training/racing with some legends; but finally and most importantly Roger is a true gentleman.
Secretary, North Wales Cross Country Association