Runner Profile: Tony Gavin
Firstly, I’d like to thank Henry for the nomination. I’d also like to wish him all the best going forward
achieving his goals.
I was always out and about as a youngster but coming from a non-sporting family my focus was
never really on any sports, unless you can include marble’s, knock and run or there was one occasion
that I actually won a three-legged race on sports day lol.
We moved to Felixstowe from Ipswich in 1992. Things changed sporting wise here, Isoon made lots
of new friends and although I loved all sports introduced to me my competitive side really come out
when I got hooked onto the football scene. This would be a part of my life (on & off)for the next 20+
years. I started playing for Trimley Red Devils at the age of 10, I moved to Felixstowe hawks for a
couple of seasons before returning to the mighty reds of TRD until the age of 17 where I left again
for another 3 years after joining the Army in 2000. Being based in Colchester I was lucky enough to
re-join and captain TRD when they 1st started up a senior team, we started in the lowest division
which was division 6 at the time. We managed to get up to division 2 within 4 seasons this was a
great achievement and fun was had along the way, great memories.
No one will believe me as my adopted name from FRR is FT (fast Tony), but from as far back as I can
remember I’ve always been bad at short distance sprints (up to 100m). No word of a lie I’ve always
found myself coming near the back at school and in the military. I remember in my military training
we had a Track Day which consisted of 100m sprints. I remember there being 72 recruits in our
platoon, each race had 3 that progressed forward a group and 3 that went back a group. This went
on to see who was the fastest and ultimately the slowest in the platoon. Yes, this wasn’t great for my
confidence as I found myself trying my absolute hardest yet finding myself in the heat to battle not
to be the slowest in the platoon. As we all stepped up to the starting blocks, we were getting
heckled from the rest of the platoon and the instructors (I was thinking don’t come last) as they
watched on pointing and laughing. Anyway, I didn’t come last and my saving grace with my army
career going forward was the fact that I had plenty of stamina, giving me the ability to just keep
going I always excelled in the longer stuff. I even managed to represent 3 Para and then the Infantry
in the 3000m steeplechase and………………… the triple jump which I didn’t even have a clue on how to
hop, skip and jump thinking you just made 3 big strides. Fortunately, there was someone on hand to
teach me the rope so I could at least make the sand pit lol.
Late teens early twenties were all about drinking and having fun. My fitness was only kept through
being in the military and the fact this was part of our job.
2003 was a big year for me as a 20-year-old I went to fight in Iraq with the 3rd Battalion the
parachute regiment (OP TELIC 1). This was an eye opener for a young man.
Later that year I was promoted to L/Cpl the course finished a day before my 21st birthday. Life was
good everything was going well. I had a great surprise 21st birthday party. Then life through out a
curve ball and a couple of days later I broke my back in an RTA. This took me out of action and on
rehab for the next year this was a bad time, but I was still here.
End of 2004 beginning of 2005 I meet Melanie (best thing that happened to me). Still struggling with
my back, I did toy with the idea of becoming a dog handler over in Northern Ireland for a 2-year
posting but, in the end, decided to come away from the military completely in august 2006.
Civilian life begins
Took me a little while to work out myself and my purpose once out of the military and into civi street
this was hard. Mel was then and still is my rock today. Reflecting on things a few years later when I
was out of the military my experiences really made me appreciate life and the journey, we are all on.
Football was still the major sporting activity in my life.
In 2007 my brother-in-law Vince Calver was RD at the Kirton 5 miler. So, showing my support I signed
up for this knowing id complete it but not really knowing how id fair against actual runners. It was a
really hot day, and I can honestly say I put my all into the race that day I was trying to impress Vince
which I succeeded as Vinnie, told me I could be a good runner and that I should take it up (I didn’t
really believe him if I’m honest just thought he was being polite). In hindsight maybe I should have
listened to him then, but I was still enjoying playing football and I didn’t want to put myself through
the suffer fest of another race again, it was another 7 years before I ran again. In this busy period in
our lives, we managed to move into our 1st home, get married, have Luke, move to our 2nd home,
and then have Lilly (my world). Didn’t have much time for anything else sporting wise apart from still
managing to play football. 2014 Vince was doing the Bungay Marathon so I signed up to 32nd Bungay
Half Marathon this would be my first half marathon and the furthest id ran to this date. I surprised
myself with a not too shabby time of 1hr 31mins 58secs. On the back of this I decided my next
challenge would be to sign up for the Brighton marathon 2015 and run it for the guide dog’s charity.
My training for this was so bad looking back at it everything was 7mm pace or below 2 runs a week
no more than 7-8miles. Also believe it or not I was more of a heel striker at this stage which didn’t
help the cause and leading up to the race 3 weeks out I was suffering with my knee (ITB), so I made
the decision not to run and rest my knee up until race day. Race day came and feeling ok in my
warmup, my aim was to run 3:15 (Knee pending). Off I set and the 1st 10miles I can remember
feeling ok ish and being on for about 3:02 IF I could keep it going at that pace! Don’t know what mile
it was but my feelings soon changed as I was slowing, I can remember hitting the 17mile point and
thinking still 9 miles to go FML. I now had a lot of discomfort in my knee, and I know now I was
massively unprepared and out of my depth for marathon distance. I somehow managed to just
switch off and hobble my way over the finish line (Thank God that was over). I decided after this to
completely come away from running and that running wasn’t for me. At the time I was broken
physically (knee) and mentally thinking I was nowhere near as good as I thought I was (which I
hated). I had a couple years out from running. I was still playing football but knew this was coming to
an end and I was trying to find something else to continue with after football. I dabbled with squash,
golf, cycling in this time. I then decided to give the marathon another bash in 2017 again for guide
dogs charity. This time I had a marathon training plan from Vince calver. This was the year that kick
started my running career. Training went well for Brighton I still didn’t really know how to train
properly but followed the plan the best I could and completed the marathon feeling good at the
finish in a time of 3:11. I didn’t realise at the time, but I can remember running past our very own
JONNI G wearing the FRR vest, along the sea front in the last few miles of the race Shouting well
done mate/come on Felixstowe not knowing at the time I would eventually join the red army lol.
2017 With encouragement by one of my friends PJ, I enter more races and I’m glad I did as I really
enjoyed them and the fact, I had something to aim for was great. 2017 Myself and PJ entered
Holkham half this was my first multi-disciplined event and being a half ironman maybe wasn’t the
wisest decision. The day came around quick after not the greatest training cycle due to me falling off
a gantry at work and fracturing my foot. but after a below average swim I got into a groove and
managed to claw some time back on the bike and run and much to my delight finishing with a time
of 5:22, Later that year I was also talked into (easily done tbh) the ultra-running scene with PJ and
Jimmy Lee. So, Druid’s challenge was a multi-day race covering 84miles of the Ridgeway in 3 days. I
loved this weekend it got tougher for me day by day and the last day it was a real struggle to even
move. but this was a great challenge, having a real laugh with my mates and like-minded people.
This definitely is up there with my favourite races, I finished off the year with a PB in the Lowestoft
half marathon 1:26.
So, after a great 2017 and getting the running bug enjoying all the events that year, I decided to try
and better myself with the advice of a Friend again i join a running club. FRR was the obvious club as
I knew lots of people who had been or still were apart of it. I went to a few training sessions before
officially being registered with the club in early 2018. On one occasion I remember I got speaking to
Solly about my up and coming race the Manchester marathon. We got onto speaking about times for
the marathon and I’d said my goal would be to go sub 3hrs. He went on to tell me a few of the club
runners including himself had gone well under the 3hrs mark for the marathon I was in awe.
Manchester marathon 8th April 2018 perfect condition. Early doors I remember speaking to a
gentleman from Bedford RC and we still follow each other on strava to this day, both having the
same goal of trying to go sub 3hrs. We had each other’s company for much of the race this helped
with pacing and helping each other when one of us was fading. At the 24mile point I got a massive
boost after a shout out of encouragement from Solly this was much needed. Last 2 miles were a slog,
but I managed to scrape under the 3hr mark with an official time 2hrs 58mins 47secs “Boom” sub
3hrs. Time to hang up my running shoes lol.
2018/2019 were jam packed full of racers and to be totally honest I enjoyed all the races I was
involved in these ranged from: – Stowmarket Golden Mile which I managed to win (4:52) with my
biggest trophy to date and all for £3 entry fee. Unfortunately, that race no longer exists but was
bloody good fun. Twilight 5k a seriously quick field on this and my PB to date (16:30). Friday 5 series
2018 then again in 2019 which I managed to be crowned the winner with most points accumulated
from the series. Surely, I’ve held this crown for the longest now as by the time it happens again it will
be 3 years JUST SAYING ha-ha. Scenic 7, Ekiden relay, a host of cross-country events and even a call
up to run for Suffolk at Loughborough finishing 230 out of 293 this was great to be a part of and
hopefully I get another opportunity to run for Suffolk again in the future. A handful of 10m and half
marathons, Benfleet 15m “Seriously muddy” but fun will do this 1 again at some point, Tarpley 20m
not quite 2 time. My first attempt I was at the front and the first 5 runners got sent the wrong way
by the lead vehicle resulting in us only recording 18m when we finished. I continued running the last
2 miles on the sports field feeling I would be a fraud if I didn’t complete the full 20m. oh my god
them last 2m were mentally so hard. A Podium finish for me though 3rd. Unfortunately, I didn’t quite
break the 2hr that I was hoping for, my Strava time being 2hrs 00: 48. Completed Four marathons
complete now with my best time of 2hrs 40mins 10secs set at London in 2019 I went into this race
aiming to get a championship place of 2hrs 45mins, so I was on cloud 9 with my time and a
Guaranteed championship place for 2020……………………. Ok so there was a little hick up with this, I’m
waiting for my invite to the 2020 London marathon via championship entry, never done this before
so I wait and wait and still nothing. 24th February 2020 (17:00) cut off time, this is the last day to sign
up for championship entry into the marathon, yes, I know I’ve left it far to late to start asking
questions, but I am a bloke and I’m pretty laid back so thought it would just sort itself out. I send out
an email about 10am on the 24th February saying I haven’t received anything to sign up to London
2020 via championship entry. I lost track of time that day and looked at my emails again at 16:45pm
the reply I got was that I had received conformation back in December 2019. So, there I am
frantically looking through my emails from December 2019 nothing in my inbox, so my wife says
have a look in your junk mail. Boom I found it 2mins to go until the 17:00 deadline. So I quickly go to
pay and I’m not even exaggerating it was 17:00 and about 30secs when I got a message reply saying
payment failed too late. I was devastated to say the least, I did try to talk them around to giving me a
little leniency but they were having none of it .
Little did I or anyone know what was coming up next……… Covid hits which cancels Majority of racers
for the next year and a bit “bad times”. Its only now we are getting back to some sort of normality
and the chance to race again “good times”.
Last year I was still lucky enough and managed to do my first ultra at the SVP50k. I do like the longer
stuff it’s a different kind of challenge and I do enjoy pushing the body to see what its capable of. This
year I went bigger again and have done SVP100k in August 2021 going sub 10hrs and a podium spot
3rd more recently completing centurions Chilton Wonderland 50 miler the hills made this such a
tough challenge and one I was glad to see the finish line.
Got London marathon on the 3rd of this month no intentions to go for a pb on this 1 so will just try
and enjoy the day, I have nothing further booked up after that. Next year will see me do some more
ultras SVP100k id like to see what I could do without going the wrong way lol. I am looking forward
to the XC when it kicks off again, I haven’t been able to do to many of these XC racers due to me
working shifts. Now it should be fine as I have since moved jobs and no longer work weekends or
nights yippee. Id like to finally do an ironman but feel this will be a few years away as id like to just
focus on my running for now and maybe even a 100miler in 2023 watch this space.
Next month’s nominee
Well, I’ve rambled on far too long now so time to pass the baton over to the rocket man himself
Danny Rock would love to hear his story.