Alf Tupper’s spirit lives on

As a child, my grandad used to read Victor comic, and one of the regular strips was Alf Tupper – The Tough of the Track. Alf was the best runner in Britain.  He was a working class chap, always doing welding jobs the night before a big race and fuelled by enthusiasm for running and portions of chips.

So for me, that is sporting spirit, I suppose; a passion and a fire to better yourself, a determination to do it whatever it takes, a willingness to have a go against the odds.

The Coca-Cola London 2012 torch relay didn’t have so much of that. Over 30 vehicles are touring the country, a procession of endless Met Police motorbikes and unmarked BMWs overwhelming somebody worthy from the local community. I watched it bustle through Worthing yesterday in the rain.

Thankfully, today a lady called Kat Molden and a dozen runners from Worthing & District Harriers (exactly the kind of club Alf would have belonged to) have restored my faith in English sport. No mean feat when you consider Kat is Norwegian.

They’re taking part in The Real Relay. Where the official Torch relay has 8000 gold torches handcrafted, they have a homemade one with a GPS tracker. Where the official Torch relay has support vehicles and hundreds of staff, they have a nice lady from the Harriers with a cool box. Where the official Torch relay covers most of the country in the back of a coach, they run every metre of the same route, ten miles at a time shared between over 800 amateur runners.

And watching it in my hometown Worthing was a hundred times more exciting than the Coca-Cola procession yesterday. It’s magnificent; amateur in the best English traditions, Alf Tupper and the 1948 Olympics all over. just imagine if that spirit was alive in the official London 2012 summer Olympics..


10 thoughts on “Alf Tupper’s spirit lives on

  1. Nice article!… And this relay seems much more poignant than the ‘real’ one, and more in keeping with the real ethos of the Games!!
    (Just replace ‘English’ with ‘British’ in the article, as the torch is going through ALL FOUR home countries.)

  2. Having seen the official torch yesterday and run part of the real relay today, there’s no doubt which was more satisfying. Today, no one watching knew why we were there, they hadn’t come out specially to watch but it was a wonderful feeling to be (just a small) part of an amazing event. Well done to th eguts who came up with the idea. Are you going to suggest it to Rio !?

  3. Thanks for all your comments. Brendan, yes it is, but I think that lovely amateur spirit is quite an English thing, and I wouldn’t want to insult the other nations with it!

    1. But it’s Welsh, Scots & (Northern?) Irish who are extolling “that lovely amateur spirit” when the relay goes through their countries, so, evidently, it’s not just an ‘English’ thing!

      1. That’s great, but I’m English and it’s not for me to comment on the national character of other nations!

  4. Well written, portrayed the passion behind the real relay so well. My husband ran the fairlight cove to appledore leg and he was so chuffed to be part of this. These guys should be very proud of what they have achieved and we are planning to be there to make a lot of noise and applaud their arrival when they get to the Olympic stadium on Sunday

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