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“A lot of people thought I was crazy with the training that I undertook, and maybe I was.” – Derek Clayton
Derek Clayton is an old-school runner, if ever there was one. A larger than life personality. A largish runner in fact. A fast and tough one too.
Of Clayton’s 22 marathons, he won 14. Included in those wins was Fukuoka in 1967, where he ran 2:09:36.4, becoming the first man to break 2:12, 2:11 and 2:10, all in the one race.
Less than 18 months later, Clayton ran even faster – 2:08:33.6 in Antwerp. This performance stood as a world best until Rob de Castella ran 2:08:18 at Fukuoka more than 12 years later.
Clayton was also a runner of excess, of extremes. He didn’t have an off switch. Whether or not this worked for or against him? On the one hand he broke multiple world records, but on the other, he went under the surgeon’s knife a total of 9 times.
“Maybe I would have benefited from a mentor during such times.” – Derek Clayton
“Marathon running is not a technical event; it is all about doing the hard yards. It is as simple as that.” – Derek Clayton
Clayton trained hard. His normal Sunday consisted of 17 miles in the morning and 10 miles in the evening, at what Clayton describes as “a very hard pace.”
Maybe the pace was even a little too hard, as Clayton himself acknowledges:
“I made throughout my career was that at times I over-did things. I did not always listen to my body. I kept training when I should have backed off.” – Derek Clayton
Suffering in Antwerp
Marathon running was different in the sixties. Clayton did a lot of his training in Dunlop Volleys, he worked a full-time job, and he certainly never went on training camps. Yet 50 years on, Clayton remains Australia’s 3rd fastest marathon runner in history. Clayton certainly knew how to suffer, speaking about his world record run in Antwerp in 1969:
“After Antwerp, I was so sick: I couldn’t eat and I was vomiting and urinating blood. I was too frightened to see a doctor as I didn’t want to go to a foreign hospital, so I just sat it out.” – Derek Clayton
For the full Derek Clayton story and much more check out Australian Marathon Stars, shipping in time for Christmas