The following is his contribution to this part of the Club’s history.
“It was great to see you after so many years.
You got me and a bunch of kids from Olympic Village Primary School and Heidelberg High going to Collingwood Harriers in 1972. I remember that you used to personally pick us up and drop us back home, until we got a little older and were capable of catching a bus to Clifton Hill for training on Tuesdays and Thursdays after school without getting lost.
The Saturday arvo meets were at the Olympic Village track in West Heidelberg – which I’d walk to as it was just down the road from home. Being so close was probably one of the main reasons I stayed with it when I was young.
I can remember the camaraderie and the support the older guys gave us kids, especially in how to train effectively and just the joy of getting out and having a run, either with a bunch of like minded people or by yourself. As a young boy growing up in the confines of Melbourne, it gave me great joy to just take off and go for a run by myself and how this distance kept growing and growing – very meditative and stress releasing – long before I even knew what that stuff was. It’s something that I still enjoy doing today, even though it’s more of a gentle jog along the beach now, rather than a push to the limit effort (although there is always a little bit of that still).
I was lucky because I struck up a friendship with Rod Grant, another boy in my class, who also went to the Harriers. It made it easier to go training as I had someone to go with. Even though we trained for different events, we became great mates. This friendship lasted right through high school and has endured all these years, despite the two of us now living on different sides of the globe.
Alby Sargent was our team manager and I can remember him being such a lovely man – always helpful and encouraging. I eventually got into racewalking. As there were so many good distance runners in my age group (I wasn’t a sprinter!) it was the only way I could make the team. Later I joined the Victorian Walkers Club, based at Albert Park, where we walked for kilometres on Saturday afternoons.
The things it taught me as a young man I probably didn’t appreciate at until I got older: the individual desire to do your best, whether in a race or training and the self satisfaction that gave me and how it rubbed off to the rest of my life: how to go with the victory/defeat process and not to take either too seriously as there’s always going to be someone quicker or slower than you. That feeling when you keep training and training and training and eventually it all adds up and you go beyond previous marks and find yourself reaching standards previously thought unachievable.
I was never a champion athlete, but I loved the whole thing of just going out and doing your best for yourself and the team. And it was great at Collingwood, that no matter how you finished, you were always supported and encouraged and made to feel that you contributed to the team and that every little bit counted. There was nothing better than doing a PB or even better, training your arse off by yourself for ages and feeling that nothing is happening, but then finding that, at the next competition, you beat someone that you’ve never bettered before.
I can’t remember getting too many trophies when I was young, but I notice that I’ve still got the only athletic trophy I received at Collingwood up on the lounge room bookshelf – 1st C.H.C. Under 17 1500m Walk Championship – 1973.
I can remember when I started at the Harriers, the Club was still operating from the old clubrooms next to the overpass. As the new track developed we would run between the two sites and often further as we pounded the streets, sometimes on those hot Melbourne afternoons.
I continued doing this for years even after I moved away from the club scene – all over the world, even slipping in a 1500m private run at the Olympia site while travelling in Greece in 1984. It was in the early hours with no one else there. I pounded out the last 400m with arms raised as I crossed the line with, as I remember it, thunderous applause coming from the (imaginary) crowd.
The Harriers got me into health and fitness, something I’m personally involved with today. I lost direct contact with Club in 1978 when I shifted to Geelong to go to University. Surfing became my main physical outlet and it’s something I still do – daily! This eventually led me onto being a teacher of Yoga – something I’ve now been doing, as a full time career, for over thirty years.
So thanks to Collingwood Harriers for playing such an important part, in not only my formative years, but in those of dozens of like minded kids over the years.”
Peter owns and operates the Central Coast School of Yoga in New South Wales.
Peter’s youngest brother, Paul, competed in the 1978/79 season.
As a side note, the funeral at which Peter was collared was that of Mrs. Gladys Grant, the mother of Rod Grant mentioned in Peter’s story. Both Gladys and Bev Mulholland (Pete’s mum) were regular contributors to some of the social committee’s activities of the day, especially the cake stalls. The two ladies became great friends as did the two dads, Harry Grant and Bernie Mulholland. Bernie at one time worked in the office at a slaughterhouse and for one of the Club’s big barbeques was able to supply the meat at a “very good price!”