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Aldershot, Farnham and District AC

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Les Presland

 

 

Les’ main acheivements have come since he joined the veteran ranks but he did achieve several honours prior to that.

 

He joined Aldershot A.C. in 1950 as a 10-year-old and ran in track, road and cross-country winning the Hampshire Schools 880 yards as an under 16. In 1957 he left Aldershot to join Surrey A.C. winning many honours in what was then probably the top distance club in the South (Dave Gibson, also now a member of AFD, was another member). During the time Les was with Surrey A.C. he won many honours including being selected for the Southern Counties and AAA’s.

 

Les rejoined AFD in 1970 and became part of our team that gained so much success in the 1970′s and 80′s. In the ten years or so before he became a vet Les was in a number of our relay teams who were beginning to make their mark, also finished second to David Bedford in the Southern Cross Country Championships. He was also very prominent on the continent where he ran in numerous International Cross races and also began to get a liking for Mountain races which were very popular in Europe. Indeed in 1979 when he became a veteran on the continent (over there you become a vet in your 40th year) he was 1st Vet in 9 different Mountain Races.

 

On becoming a veteran in the UK he was still good enough to make our Senior Relay squad and in 1981 was bronze medallist in the European Vets 10K in Rumania. Then Taff Davies and several other athletes broke into the Veteran ranks and AFD for a few years had an unbeatable veteran squad, when it seemed like we only had to turn out to win titles – Les also winning many individual honours including bronze in the World Vets 10K road championships in 1985, and in 1989 2nd in the World 10K Road Championships and 3rd in both the World 10K track and Cross country championships.

 

1n 1990 as a 50-year-old Les achieved a World age group best of 31:59 for 10000 metres and a British best of 8:57 for 3000 metres and was 1st over 50 in the Home International Cross Country race, then in 1991 won the National Vets over 50 Cross country and 5K Road Championships was 2nd in the Vets World Cross Country Championships, the Home International Cross Country and the National 10K Road Championships. Also that year he achieved a British Over 50 best for a 10K road race of 31:54.

 

Les missed most of 1992 with injury but in 1993 returned as strong as ever winning the National Cross Country, 5000 metres track with a Championship Best Performance of 15:40 and the 10K Road Championships. More successes followed in 1994 and 1995 but Les missed nearly all 1996 with injury.

 

Following this as a 55-year-old Les has won gold in the European 10K Road Championships, bronze and silver in the National Cross Country, two golds in the National 5K Road and gold in the National 10K Road Championships.

 

Now he’s turned 60 Les is still going strong, coming 1st over 60 in numerous races, competing in the World Vets Championships in Brisbane and coming 4th in both the Cross Country and 5000 metres.