Photo Album

Photo Album
Pictures and text by David Wurr

NVRS Hockey Club at Welsh Plant Breeding Station, sometime between 1973 and 1976

Back Row: T H Thomas, G F Collier, P Crisp, A Gerwitz, ..., R L K Drew, M J Quick, D Wurr, D Gray, D G A Walkey

Front Row: G Skinner,  A H Presly ,  ..., H R Rowse,

NVRS Hockey Club at East Malling, sometime between 1973 and 1976

Back Row: G F Collier, D G A Walkey, D C E Wurr, M J Quick, D Gray, T H Thomas

Front Row: H R Rowse, G Skinner, I R Crute, P Jones, M McKee

With thanks to D Wurr for filling in the dots

Race v Letcombe Laboratory on the Ridgeway August 1979

The NVRS Runner Beans first emerged in 1979 in the Sunday Times National Fun Run, held in Hyde Park in London. The initial National Fun Run had taken place in 1978 with 15,800 participants in 13 classes and was probably the first mass participation running event in the UK. Then David Gray and David Wurr took part as individuals, when the unimaginatively named ?Letcombe Laboratory? team was 17th overall but nevertheless the first governmental team.

Tudor Thomas (Race v Letcombe Laboratory on the Ridgeway August 1979)

Graham Collier (Race v Letcombe Laboratory on the Ridgeway August 1979)

David Wurr (Race v Letcombe Laboratory on the Ridgeway August 1979)

In 1979 Letcombe, sensing vegetable competition, challenged NVRS and two races were held in 1979, the first at Wellesbourne on a circular road route via Wellesbourne village and Charlecote, while the return match was on the scenic Ridgeway south of Letcombe in August. These were good social occasions developing new friends and contacts. The races also helped encourage running at NVRS, which resulted in the team assembled in 1979 for the National Fun Run. The Runner Beans were a respectable 23rd overall and second governmental team, though still well beaten by Letcombe who were 8th overall.

The challenge was obvious ? to beat Letcombe in 1980 and training became more organised and serious. Notably Tudor Thomas is well remembered for consistently cutting corners when doing circular ?reps?! In preparation for Hyde Park in May 1980 male and female teams competed in a relay round Silverstone Grand Prix circuit. For the National Fun Run itself two teams were entered and included Julie Verity, Polly Quick, Penny Scott, Pauline Brown, Sue Tatlow, David Cooper, Martin Quick, Nigel Sisson, John Riggall, Chris Hole, Mike McKee, David Wurr and Tudor Thomas and the first of these came 11th and was indeed the first governmental Team, ahead of Letcombe who were 14th overall.

The Sunday Times of 5 October 1980 commented

?For the third year in a row a great many agriculture research establishments were trying to catch the speedsters from Letcombe Laboratory near Wantage, and at last one of them succeeded. The Runner Beans from the National Vegetable Research Station in Warwickshire are the new governmental champions?.

The National Fun Run in Hyde Park in September 1979

The National Fun Run in Hyde Park in September 1979 with new T-shirts
particularly note the irrepressible Graham Collier
Back Row: Tudor Thomas, Graham Collier, David Wurr, Chris Hole, Mike McKee, Martin Quick
Front Row: David Gray, David Cooper, Julie Verity, Polly Quick, Pauline Brown

Relay race round Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit May 1980

Nigel Sisson (going too fast for the camera operator)
(Relay race round Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit May 1980)

Chris Hole (Relay race round Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit May 1980)

Tudor Thomas (Relay race round Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit May 1980)

David Wurr (Relay race round Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit May 1980)

Mike McKee(Relay race round Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit May 1980)

In the 1981 Fun Run Letcombe were out for revenge over the Runner Beans and the Sunday Times of 9 August 1981, previewing the race, wrote

?For some reasons not entirely understood by us, running rivalry is particularly keen in various agricultural research establishments. Letcombe Laboratory, near Wantage, were the governmental champions in the first two years, until narrowly overtaken last year by a particularly spirited challenge from the National Vegetable Research Association?s (sic) Runner Beans in Warwickshire. Fine teams from the Glasshouse Crops Research Institute in Littlehampton, the Soil Research Unit in Aberystwyth and the Rothamsted Experimental Station in Harpenden have found Hyde Park barren and infertile land?.

The Stratford Herald of 14 August 1981 published a photograph of some of the team with the following text

?If you run into a string of beans in the lanes around Wellesbourne, don?t be surprised ? they know what they are up to. They?re all getting trained ? not up poles but for the London Fun Run on 27thSeptember in Hyde Park. The 30-strong team, calling themselves the Runner Beans, stem from the National Vegetable Research Station and have been jogging to prepare for the 2 ? mile run. Last year the Runner Beans ? led by captain Mike McKee ? finished ahead of a research laboratory team from Wantage to pick up the governmental championship?.

1981 saw the entry of three Runner Bean teams together with the still boringly named ?Letcombe Laboratory?, and the more imaginative ?GCRI Greenflyers?, ?GCRI Whiteflyers? and the tasteful ?East Malling Strawberry Runners?! The NVRS teams included Polly Quick, Pauline Brown, Sue Tatlow, Marcia Gurden, Heather Neely, Judith Norwood, Ann Miller, Chris Hole, Nigel Sisson, Jeremy Ansty, Dave Wurr, Mark Taylor, Mike McKee, Graham Collier, Norman Biddington, Martin Quick, Bob Grendon, Alan Dalby and Tudor Thomas. This time the Runner Beans were 19th in a much larger field of 1350 teams but most importantly were again governmental champions ahead of Letcombe in 24th. Perhaps this defeat was instrumental in the later closure of the Letcombe Laboratory site?

The Runner Beans also entered teams in the Banbury Fun Run in 1981 where they were fourth and the Leamington Fun Run of 1981, where they won the male team award while Polly Quick was the first woman home.

The Leamington Courier of 6 November 1981 wrote

?Quick by name and quick by nature. That?s Polly Quick who certainly wasted no time when she took part in the Great Leamington Fun Run. Mrs Quick, aged 28, was the first woman across the finishing line on Sunday in a time of 21 minutes 10 seconds?.

The Coventry Evening Telegraph of 2 November reported

?Winner in the women?s section was 28-year old Polly Quick of Ettington Park near Stratford?

while the Midweek News of 4 November wrote

?Local interest centred on the ?Runner Bean? racing team from the National Vegetable Research Station, Wellesbourne, winners of the Government Section in the recent Sunday Times fun run. The Runner Bean Team of Nigel Sisson, Gary Arnold, Mike McKee and Chris Hole won the first team prize with Nigel Sisson coming a very pleasing fifth position?.

London Marathon medals 1982

Graham Collier, Polly Quick, Mike McKee, David Wurr (London Marathon medals 1982)

By now, running was a major activity at Wellesbourne, albeit that it caused much amusement to those of a more sedentary nature, and even got a mention in one of the Christmas Pantomimes. Individuals had run in local road races and were now turning their interest towards half and full marathon races competing, in the Burnham Beeches Half Marathon and the Peoples Marathon in Birmingham in 1981. Indeed Nigel Sisson won the first Shakespeare Half Marathon in Stratford in 1982 in 72 min 10 sec and after emigrating to Australia then returned on holiday in 1986 to break the course record in 70 min 56 sec. This enthusiasm for distance running peaked with participation in the second London Marathon in 1982 for which preparation took many months and involved running up to 50 miles a week with long runs on Wednesday evenings, naturally followed by a pint or so in the bar, and Sunday mornings exploring the lanes of south Warwickshire.

See also the Press cuttings , the Pantomime and the Bean Group Song Sheet pages
And now - Photo Album 2!
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