Big anniversary for Jim’s marathon win at Commonwealths

Jim Alder with his Olympic torch.
Jim Alder with his Olympic torch.

Today marks the opening ceremony of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio – and it also marks the 50th anniversary of one of the biggest moments in the life of Morpeth Harriers legend Jim Alder.

Clocking what was then one of the fastest times in the world for the men’s marathon, 2hrs22mins08secs, he was enjoying his finest hour winning the Commonwealth Games title in a hot, humid and very sweaty Kingston, Jamaica.

Running in the blue vest of Scotland, he very nearly lost the title after being misdirected into the finish because of stadium staff being diverted to look after the arrival of the Royal party just beforehand.

A more alert Scottish official helped get him back on track, only to discover that English rival Bill Adcocks was yards in front of him and hurtling towards the finish line.

Alder, sensing defeat accidentally, summoned all his interior strength and eventually swept past Adcocks to take his rightful victory by all of five seconds, and the rest is history.

Even now, Alder and Adcocks meet up occasionally on more friendly occasions, such as the yearly invitation to attend the London Marathon, and the question is often asked of Adcocks as to whether he let Alder win.

The Coventry man always firmly replies ‘not likely’, with one or two expletives removed.

Hopefully over the next few weeks, although watching from afar, Alder may be able to cheer on some fine performances during the forthcoming Olympics – including those by Morpeth Harriers runners Laura Weightman and Serod Batochir, who are competing in the women’s 1500m and men’s marathon respectively.

He will also perhaps take one or two moments to smile and reflect on his own fine achievement from 1966.