9.02 Sunday July 27: A magic moment for Serpentine Running Club
Next Sunday, the slightly odd time of 9:02am on 27 July marks one of the club's great milestones. That's the start time for the men's marathon at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Among the athletes is a first-claim Serpie, Nick Torry, a first for a major athletics championship.
Come and join us to watch and support Nick in his big race at The Albion, 2/3 New Bridge Street, London, EC4V 6AA (open from 08.30 with a breakfast menu available and soft drinks).
Most of you will know Nick, by name at least. In recent years, this group-wide Serpentine email has almost became the Torry-gram, with news of his frequent victories, PBs, club records – and most recently his selection to the England squad.
It hasn't always been that way. Nick was a latecomer to club athletics, which is partly why his story is such an inspiring one.
Now 37, he joined the club back in 2007. While early his results were good, they didn't really suggest a major championship appearance was in the offing.
Back in 2008, 10k times were around 34 minutes, and 5k results around 16 minutes, dipping under a few times that year. Then in 2009, a leg operation for varicose veins gave Nick another setback, which he reacted to impressively on his return with a series of quick times.
It was around this time that he began to get noticed by athletics observers outside the club. The commentator at the Southern 12-stage relays almost fell off his stool at Nick's performance on the first leg. “And it's a SERPENTINE in third place,” he said. (Back then, the club was known for its inclusive, sociable atmosphere - and always will be - but not so much for its fast runners).
Nick's results continued on an upward trajectory from there, moving towards the sub-30-minute barrier for 10k, which he broke last year. His 29.13 put him joint first with a certain Mo Farah in the year's 10k road rankings, while his performance at the Frankfurt Marathon last October – 2.15.04 – is the result that took him to Glasgow. There's been the odd hiccup, of course. A training stint in Kenya in 2012 ended up with him passing out twice. And a trip to another training holiday to Portugal was cut short before it even began due to a mislaid passport. Good thing none is required – yet – for Scotland.
So at an age where most athletes are hanging up their racing shoes, Nick is about to stand on the biggest stage of his career, giving hope to many an ageing runner. “There’s no reason why you can’t keep going well into your thirties and older,” Nick said in a recent interview to the World Running website, which also highlighted how he combines a gruelling training schedule with a full time job in the City.
What the article didn't mention is how thoroughly Nick deserves the success: those have met Nick know him for his down-to-earth manner, good humour and considerate nature. Oh, and his ability to lead an entire end-of-month 5k race down the wrong route.
So at 9.02 on Sunday, if you can't line the streets of Glasgow, then join the Serpentine committee for a special morning visit to the Albion pub in East London to watch the event with other Serpies (sign up on the Events Planner).
If you can't join us, then find your nearest TV and tune in to the BBC's Commonwealth coverage. And if you're not near a TV set, then pause for a second, share a magic moment in the club's history and cheer on a magnificent individual achievement for Nick.
Many thanks to Jolyon Attwooll for writing this piece on Nick, and to Lars Menken for his photo of Nick.
Submitted: 22 July 2014