IT TOOK an appeal in the Sunderland Echo to provide the catalyst for Brian Rushworth to begin earnestly training as a middle distance runner.
Almost 30 years later, Rushworth has recorded one of his most prestigious finishes after crossing the line in 18th place in a list of the top 100 athletics club servants since 1986.
Rushworth looked back on his career with the Echo’s Chris Young and the motivation needed to fight his way back from injury to continue competing at the ripe age of 49.
Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose ... and then a 10-mile run over the undulating terrain of Penshaw.
For the least sadistic among us, cross-country running is a discipline best confined to the haunting memories of evil-minded PE teachers, let alone a worthy pastime when the nights have closed in and the biting wind whips mercilessly against your chops.
But then it perhaps takes a different breed to possess the single-minded determination to maintain race condition after 27 years of competition.
That competitiveness has seen Brian Rushworth become a flag bearer for Sunderland Harriers since winning the Red House Fun Run in 1984 – dedication which has not gone unrecognised after he finished 18th in a list from magazine Athletics Weekly of the top 100 male middle distance club servants over the last 25 years.
At his peak, the Castletown-born runner was a Great Britain international, a record 10 times North East Cross Country champion and a participant at the World Championships.
Age has not dimmed his determination to take top spot on the podium either – winning four individual gold medals in the British Veterans’ Cross Country Championships since entering the senior tour.
Even at 49, when the body groans in pain, Rushworth refuses to succumb to life on the sidelines.
Read more of Chris Young’s profile in today’s Echo.