David Griffiths

David Griffiths (Mason 1954-1960), although not a household name can rightly claim to be one of our most successful Old Worksopians. Listing David’s achievements whilst still at Worksop is no easy task, but here goes:

  • College mile and 880y records in 1958
  • College mile and Dorm Run records in 1959
  • Won every inter-school cross country match in 1960 and ran 5th at the England Schools Champs, helping Nottinghamshire to 3rd place
  • Member of the College rugby sevens team that finished runners-up at Rosslyn Park in 1960
  • 1960 was topped off with yet another College mile record of 4:23 (since 1960, only Jack Buckner has ever run faster)

At this point you are probably wondering why we are simply listing a few sporting achievements of an individual – yes he was good, but surely not that unique. It was after Worksop that David really got going!

He became Army Champion at 440y and 880y in the early 1960s and due to his posting abroad with the Army was selected to compete for Aden in the 1962 Empire Games where he took part in the 880y and mile. He then went on to compete in the 1966 World Orienteering Championships for England, alongside Chris Brasher and Gordon Pirie and played rugby for Waterloo and Wasps. Then came his marathon running – his first was Honolulu in 1979 in which he finished in 3:06, quickly followed by more. His best time ended up at 2:26.23 at Fukuoka in 1982 aged 42.

David in China

David in China

Obviously not one to rest on his laurels, David then decided to do something that had never been done before – he ran from Beijing to Hong Kong (that’s 2000 miles by the way). The run took fifty days and unsurprisingly attracted plenty of media attention. A Reader’s Digest article about his trip can be found here. In David’s own words:

Previously in my charity work, I have always supported disabled athletes so you can imagine how appalled I was whilst living in Hong Kong and running in the Beijing Marathon – to find that in 1982, Mainland China did not have ONE official disabled person in the 1 billion population. So I decided to do something about it.

I offered to run from Beijing to Hong Kong and raise money on the condition that:

  • Mainland China ‘admitted their disabled into society’, by forming a Disabled Association. (they did) 
  • They sent a disabled team to compete in the Special Olympics in 1984 in the USA using the dollars I raised during and after my charity run (they did) 
  • The other 50 % would go to the Hong Kong disabled team to compete alongside them
  • This they accepted, and agreed to support me and give me ‘special permission’ to run in what was then rural China
  • After the Run and the aftertow of the event, the total proceeds approached $US 2 million 
  • So, 50% was paid to the China Sports Service Company and Deng Sho Ping’s disabled son headed their newly formed Disabled Association

On top of this, David also found time to be Managing Director of Wembley Stadium and was the person who bravely suggested that the venue might be a good location for a concert…! He even still finds time to run, although he is hoping to hang up his spikes on the same fields it all started – Worksop College – we hear 2015 may well be his last run.

8 thoughts on “David Griffiths

  1. Malcolm Smith

    I was a member of the school cross-country team at the same time as David Griffiths. He was totally unbeatable but I did finish second to him in our team on one away match. The match was a first fixture against a school on Yorkshire (the name of which I can not remember) and it was the first time that we had run a proper cross-country course with muddy ploughed fields, We were used to hard surfaces. I think it was also the first year that we used blocked running shoes rather than plimsolls. However, my second place in our team was not as good as it sounds as the entire opposition were behind David and in front of me.

    1. David Griffiths

      Dear Malcolm,
      How nice to hear from you. I well remember your running prowess at Worksop.
      We really DID rule the waves at athletics and croos country in those days and we had strengh in depth which made ‘Coggy’ very happy.
      I still see him. He’s well into his late eighties now and lives in Wargrave.
      After returning to Wembley in 1986 from Hong Kong, I finally got married and now live near Beaconsfield. Being married at the ripe old age of 51 has certain communication problems as I’m paying the price of being an old fart with a young family by having two lovely daughters, one at Exeter University and the other at Edinburgh University who sometimes chatter away so quickly, I can’t keep up with, nor understand, them.
      My wife Amanda comes from Washington DC.
      I’m still running, (having said that, I now have a knee problem that, my physio in China, said would occur when I was in my seventies).
      I’m a wrinkled old bugger now but I was recently made a Fellow of Bucks New University.
      What are you up to?
      Please get in touch, wherever you are. Simon has galvanised me into coming to meet him and the other OW’s in London on 6th November. Maybe you live nearby?

      My mobile is 07768-123-124. My home number is 01753-648588

      With kind regards,

  2. Tony Baynes

    I worked at Radio Television Hong Kong as the morning show host when David achieved his incredible Beijing – Hong Kong run (not the Great Wall of China!). It took him 55 days. I supported him throughout in any way I could and finally produced a documentary titled 55 days from Peking. One day during his run he phoned in to the morning radio show…. he sounded thoroughly dispirited. He’d spent days running across the flood plain of the Yangzse river. It was flat, flat, flat, and totally featureless. I resolved to go to join him in an effort to raise his spirits, which I did. He encouraged me to run with, which I had never done before, and within 6 months he’d inspired me too run a marathon, and stop smoking! I have never forgotten the the joy of running 3 or 4 hours around the streets of Hong Kong in training, or the difference he made to my life. I still don my Nike’s and do the Athens 5k or something equally modest. Is he still around? I’d love to catch up with him. If any old Worsopians see him, mention my name and ask him to contact me.

    Tony Baynes

  3. Malcolm Smith

    How good to hear from you David, thanks to the OW website. Your continued athletic achievements make impressive reading.

    I had always enjoyed athletics and did well at all of my schools. I think that if I had put more effort into tactics and training I would have done better. Nonetheless, I was happy to be a capable all rounder. I had hoped to continue with athletics after leaving school and went to join my local club, however, they gave no encouragement so I did not stay. I was a keen cyclist and joined Camberley Wheelers who, as it happened, had the national champion as a member.

    At Worksop, my usual running partner for both the 440 and cross country was W. Wood of Pelham (if I remember the name correctly). We had very similar pace and style. He and I used to compete for the second string place in the school team for the 440, M.R. Woodcock being the lead and totally unbeatable. I do remember being beaten by both you and him in the 1958 sports day 440 and was quite indignant as it was supposed to be my speciality!!


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