The father of two from Hangleton won the Hamburg Marathon and the IAAF World Cup Marathon in 1993 with a personal best of 2:10:57, as well as competing on the Olympic stage in the 1992 and 1996 Games.
Of his own career Richard said: “It was an honour and a thrill to compete for my country and it was wonderful to travel the world. As a high-level sports person, you get to pursue your passion as a job, but at the same time it is hard work staying at the top.”
When he retired from international competition in 2000 he, his wife, Gail, and four month old Almaz who is now 10, moved to Ethiopia. There he worked with the legend Haile Gebrselassie to introduce mass-participation running competitions to one of the poorest parts of the the developing world.
The endeavour was rewarded with an M.B.E for Services to International Athletics although Richard says that the pleasure of receiving the award was just a part of the greater satisfaction he found in seeing the project flourish on the ground.
Returning to the UK in summer 2010 was not easy, he says, and Richard still keeps in touch with the office in Ethiopia he helped to establish. Richard’s contribution to the work of the Brighton Marathon bodes well for the future of the event. He said: “Like so many running events in the UK, we’re riding a wave of popularity in these kind of events. Last year’s marathon was a great day and the people of Brighton gave lots of support. Both these things have given us a lot of confidence for future events in and around Brighton.”
Part of Richard’s work with the marathon is to attract more top British runners to run in Brighton. A recent training weekend attended by the likes of leading British marathoner Dan Robinson gave impetus to this plan, and drew positive coverage from national athletics media.
“Events like ours should also offer motivation to British runners, even if it’s now super-fast African athletes who make the headlines in the bigger international races.”
Reflecting on his life as a runner, Richard says that running has opened many doors for him, for which he feels very grateful. “Running is not just something I do, but it’s very much a part of me as a person. Yes, I still enjoy going for a run and feeling fit, but I also want to pass on what I’ve learnt and help others to enjoy the sport.”
As his competitive career came to an end, Richard wrote ‘Marathon Running: From Beginner to Elite,’ which he describes as “part memoir, part-manual”. “I wanted to put down on paper my own experiences as an elite performer while at the same time giving advice and encouragement to new runners as well as more experienced runners.”
Richard started out as a young schoolboy runner growing up in Bradford and recalls: “I was nine when I won my first race at school. I enjoyed running because I was good at it, and I was helped by having two ultra-keen schoolteachers who gave me lots of encouragement. Today young runners need that kind of encouragement – and more.”
“Joining a club isn’t a must for everybody but at a certain stage in a young athlete’s development it can play a vital role in offering good advice and guidance. For folks later in life clubs are primarily a good way to enjoy running socially and keep friendships.”