JOHN MOORE (1934 – 2012)

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John Moore was chair, chief coach and inspiration of Arunners from 2006 until his death in April 2012. All those of us who knew him will remember him for his care and kindness to others and his unfailing honesty and integrity and for those things we will never forget him.

John joined Arunners in 1989 at about the same time as Tim Boone and Gayleen Scott. Fairly soon after he became treasurer, a post he held until 2010. He always claimed that he didn’t really know how to be a treasurer but only how to pay money in and write cheques but despite this the club remained financially healthy during the whole of his period in charge.

In 2005 Arunners faced a severe crisis. Membership had dwindled to below 15 and club activities were almost non-existent. John took over as chair and took several actions which rescued the club from extinction. He arranged with Inspire Leisure for the club to meet in a room at the swimming centre, held an open evening, organised a stall at the town show and in the process started to recruit new members. More fundamentally he changed the ethos of the club from one for enthusiasts to one for everybody, including beginners.

The club had no coaches so John went on the training courses and became a level 1 and then a level 2 coach. The club had no training schedule so John wrote one. The club had no committee or rules so John recruited a committee and led them to write some rules. He organised and led the weekly coaching sessions and received the Littlehampton Coach of the Year Award in 2008. From these foundations the club has grown and developed to its present size but it has kept the ethos that John gave it: a club for everyone.

John did not start running until he retired from active duties in the fire service in his fifties. He conceived the idea of running around the fire stations of West Sussex on a sponsored run in aid of the Firefighters Benevolent Fund. This was highly successful and gave him a taste for distance running which he never lost. He went on to complete 21 marathons, with a best time of 3:14, including the Melbourne Marathon in 2002 which he entered on the spur of the moment while he was on holiday and completed in 3:25 – winning a best in age group award. He also ran in eight ultras, including the London to Brighton run of 56 miles five times with a best time of 8:19. When asked about this achievement he dismissed it in his characteristically modest way by saying “It was mostly downhill!”

It is hard to know how good a runner John might have been if he had started younger but as an indication of his talent he achieved three Road Running Club awards at class 2 and in 2000 the ultimate RRC award, class 1. This is the same as achieving three level 1 club benchmarks in one calendar year. In two years of awarding club benchmarks we have not yet awarded a single level 1, let alone three to one person in one year.

John won the club trophy for most league points in a season by a runner over 50 six times between 1993 and 2003 and the club’s Half Marathon Cup in 2002. He completed his final marathon at London in 2007 at the age of 72, his final half marathon on the very tough Three Forts course at the age of 75 and his final WSFRL race at Steepdown just before his 76th birthday. He was, as has become the custom, cheered home by the rest of Arunners, who had no idea that this would be his last race. Shortly afterwards he started feeling the breathlessness which revealed the asbestosis that was to cause his death. It is likely that he contracted this during the years when he worked for Osborne’s shipyard, fitting and commissioning lifeboats. This work involved cutting and drilling asbestos sheets and he would regularly come home with his clothes covered in deadly dust.

Although his breathing did not allow him to run again John continued to play as full a role in the life of the club as he could, chairing the club’s AGM in December 2011 and coaching beginner runners on the seafront In January 2012. As always his enthusiasm and commitment were unfailing. In his last weeks John was nursed at his home by his beloved Vera, supported by his two daughters, Karen and Maddie. Many of his friends from the past and more recent times came to see him and talk to him in those precious days and he was greatly moved by the affection shown to him.

John’s funeral was attended by 200 people and a group of some 40 runners from Arunners and other clubs ran behind the hearse in a final tribute to him.