Are you inspired by Alex Vero's ambitions, or slightly insulted?

Serpentine Runner Alex Vero has set himself the ambitious target of finishing inside 2 hrs 15 mins in the 2008 London Marathon (and being in the first three UK men). See his website for more details.

He has made good progress so far, seeing his half marathon time drop by 20 minutes in the past year, to just over 1 hr 15 mins in February 2007. However, he has suffered some setbacks along the way, including yesterday’s Reading Half, where he finished just inside 1 hour 22 mins.

He is aiming for 2 hrs 30 mins at the Paris marathon on 15th April.

Whether or not he succeeds, his improvement thus far has been impressive.

Does his story inspire you, or does the extravagance and public nature of his ambition in some way belittle the achievements of other runners (even if unintentionally)?


  • Dunno... I personally don't feel belittled because I know I will never ever be an elite runner, hence there is no direct competition. When the elite runners lapped us in Bath yesterday I didn't think "rub it in why don't you"... I genuinely thought "awesome!".

    If he has got the skill to be in the top 3 runners I think he's got a right to a spot of publicity? I don't know what kind of a person he is. I like it when successful people are still a bit humble about it and have regard for the achievements of others.

    I don't know how I would feel if I were that good and saw him as competition. I assume in that came my life would be totally assmed by running and perhaps I would feel different? I don't know.

    I don't know him but he's probably worked very very hard for it so i wish him well.
  • Not inspired(obviously that will change if he runs sub 2.15!!!) or insulted to be honest. It will be interesting to follow though, all the best to him...
  • having met him he is quite matter of fact about what he is trying to do and accepts it is asking a lot.

    It has motivated me to train a bit better as 12 months ago he was slower than me over a half.
  • I think most of us have extravagant ambitions at one time or another. Most of us also acknowledge that we probably won’t achieve them either, although that doesn’t stop us dreaming, like Alex Vero, and doing our best to achieve them.

    I think where the dreaming takes a more public form, then it becomes a bit uncomfortable for onlookers. Do we say what we really think, or is that impolite or mean spirited?

    There’s another aspect to this that disturbs me a bit. It’s exemplified by the current popularity of the “Celebrity” shows like yesterday’s “Jo Brand plays the organ in front of 5,000 people after only 4 months practice”. Never mind that professionals hone their craft over a lifetime, why not give it a bash? Most of the notes were played in the right order, even if they weren’t all played at the right time. Impressive - a bit like the dog dancing on its hind legs.

    I'm always inspired by the tales of ordinary folk like Tracey Morris. I suppose I prefer my heroes to be quiet and self-effacing. I don’t really care whether Vero succeeds or not, but I’d rather he shuts up about it until he does.
  • I wanted to do a sub 2:15 mara 15 years ago - coz a big Aussie runner (same build as me but minus the fat I had) had done a 2:08 -I thought it was poss-lol. For a reasonably talented runner 2:15 is a worthwhile goal though.
  • good luck to him.

    I suspect however he will find that training and determination will only take him so far and then gentic makeup will prove to be the limiting factor.

    1:15 for a half is nothing special in the context of marathon running at speed equating to only 2:40 -2:45. Taking 30 minutes off those times is where it gets really hard..........................:-)))
  • If he does it in the public eye then he may inspire other people along he way, who might think well if he can give it a go then why can't I. If he tries and fails in private then no one will know, and no one will be inspired. Similarly it will be far more inspirational if he gets to Beijing after we've been able to watch his progress from couch potato.
    It's very different to Jo Brand playing the organ, if he runs a 2:15 marathon, or even 2:30 for that matter it is hardly insulting to anyone. He has got all the notes very much in the right place, and at the right time. Doesn't matter if other runners have struggled for years, he'll have still put the work in and got the times.
    As for Tracey Morris, she is a different case having been a very talented athlete when she was younger.

    I'm inspired and watching with interest.
  • there is a wisdom that states the higher you aim the further you get. If I'd have aimed for a more modest time I'd have been doing 12min mile as opposed to 8 at best:O)
  • I like people who have the courage to go for their dreams and aspirations, even if they are a bit over the top.

    I too got lapped by the winner during a half marathon and, like Namaste, I though WOW!
  • Inspired - why not. Do we not all wonder what could have or would have been if life had taken another path and we had been 'spotted' at school or at the very least had a go at running before the ripe old age of 35?.

    If he makes it (and I hope he does or at least gets close) then it says to me that with determination, a bit of luck and lots and lots of hard work, you can do just about anything. Which should be a cause for celebration.

    I absolutely fail to see how this denigrates elite athletes. They are still human beings - why do we 'need' them to be better than us to still be special. Unless it is as an excuse for not excelling ourselves.
  • MB
    I think what some people might find insulting is a three-hour marathon runner saying that, give it two or three years' hard work and a bit of talent, and you can be ranked top three in the UK. What does he think other dedicated athletes are doing? Watching the TV and eating doughnuts?

    If he does it, then obviously nobody would be insulted but, as TS says, going from 2:45 to 2:15 is an order of magnitude different from getting down to 2:45 in the first place (which he hasn't done yet).
  • I like people like him. To one of the earlier posters saying they 'know they will never be an elite athlete' - it's quite ironic. Here you have a seemingly ordinary runner who has set himself a high goal to reach, who before it, may have been in the category of never becoming an elite runner too, but it's not stopped him before he started.

    Personally, good luck to the guy. I believe he'll do it. And it's just ordinary people like that, aiming to do an extraordinary thing, who inspire me to reach some damn high heights in running, in the future, too.
  • why on earth would i be insulted???????

    good luck to him
  • Personally, I'm inspired by ordinary people who doextraordinary things. Not ordinary people telling me that they are going to do extraordinary things!
  • I've run a sub 2:30 marathon and this weekend was chatting to a couple of guys who have GB championship vests for the marathon (who have run sub 2:15) and some of his statements have wound them up a bit. He's making it seem so easy (and not producing the goods) when we have all spent years trying to be the best we can, working full time, learning our craft along the way.

    For a more full and frank discussion of him check out:
  • If he fails to hit his stated goals than the elite will be able to (should they wish) say "told you so - its tougher than it looks isn't it"

    If he succeeds then what can anybody take away from him? He'll have won a personal victory and become a folk hero to many along the way.

    If he gets somewhere near, but doesn't hit his ultimate goals then the elite will be reinforced (in my eyes) as somewhat God like, and he will have demonstrated what one man can really achieve - and thus be inspirational to me.

    The proof of the pudding...
  • Well yes, there's that too. I'm as sceptical as most, but I find something of this magnitude inspirational - maybe I find the inspiration in this seemingly impossible situation. A challenge is always more exciting than something that's not isn't it? That would drive me anyway.
  • Good luck to him.

    I did notice he had a fairly good 10k but not that fast and wondered if he has the basic speed to run sub 5 min miling for 26.2 miles.
  • Mike B - surely thats the whole point.

    He is not making it seem easy unless he does come up with the goods.

    For people who have already run 2:15 or 2:30 I congratulate you - you have proved yourself at the highest level in my eyes.

    For such people to be insulted or threatened by words not backed up with actions strikes me as a little fragile on the ego front.
  • Tom.Tom. ✭✭✭
    I'm neither insulted nor inspired. However the intention as stated is another example of a runners ambition exceeding his ability.
    There was a similar example of a 38 year old runner who said he was going to be the first M40 to run an outdoor 4 minute mile - something which eluded the likes of John Walker and Dave Moorcroft.

    It's this sort of arrogance which irritates me. It's one thing to be confident of one's own ability - providing that confidence is borne of a realistic assessment of what you think you are capable of. It's something else just to think that if you say it often enough and loud enough, it's going to happen. I've no time for people who are so blinded by there own ambitions that they just can't see that they are unachievable.

    Runners who are capable of reaching such targets as 4 minute miles and 2:15 marathons (and sub 50min 10 miles for that matter!) don't get there by starting from lowly club runner roots. They tend to hit the ground running within six months of coming into the sport - even at that early stage their talent and potential is plain to see, eg Dan Robinson, Micheal Colman and Felicity Milton.

    So these overambitious underachievers are destined for a lifetime of disappointment.

    I'll probably return to this topic on the 6th April, the day of the Folkestone 10M.
  • We're so used to taking a non-stop bashing (particularly the 2:15 guys) from everyone except the typical user of this board.

    If you run the sort of times I do you're a local hero, but run any faster and you're a national disgrace:

    to the red tops "Paula beats all the British Men"
    to informed letter writers to the comic (Athletics Weekly) "back in 1983 I ran 2:13 for 10th Brit at London, and on the Tuesday Nike wrote to cancel my shoe deal"
    to BBC commentators who show no interest or patriotism at all.

    Vero has stated in an email that if he doesn't run 2:30 at Paris in three weeks he will give up.

    "The problem is that although I might not be at a 2:30 standard yet I would prefer to go for it and if I fail then at least I know that I have given everything of myself since I started back in January 2006. If I aimed for 2:35 and got it great, well done, but no one will fund the documentary and it will be over anyway."

    That is where I find the problem. He's not playing the same game as the rest of us. We're running because it's what we do. We love it, and want to be the best we can, for many of us it is by far and away the most important thing in our lives (rightly or wrongly). He's giving it a go, and when he fails will move on to the next bit of documentary making.
  • Neither! - next question
  • For me, whether he makes it or not is not really an issue. I find his story inspirational...I have struggled for years with my weight, and am a fairly mediocre, for Vero to go from weighing 17 stone to being able to run 2.30 (or whether around that time) i think is to be appluaded. Yes, he could do it quietly, but i think he is also showing to an extent that the ordinary person can do extraordinary things. I also think someone like Paula Radcliffe is inspiring, but in a different way. She has shown a natural talent from a very early age, and has been anle to nurture and develop her talent to take her right to the top. Having read her biography, i know that she spent years questioning if it was all worth it, but after years of trying, she knows it is. The same with someone like kelly Holmes.
    If this guy can achieve his goal then good for him. I wish i was brave enough to stand up and say i would do it. it takes guts.
  • Tom.Tom. ✭✭✭
    So Vero, who started in Jan 2006, some 15 months ago is now only targeting 2:30 which, Black Hat, he has yet to achieve, so hold your inspiration in abeyance til he gets there. That means he has just another 15 months or so until he has to deliver the 2:15 (or more likely 2:12, if Dave Collins has his way!). It just can't be done.

    I'm sure MikeB can describe just how hard (and I mean really hard!!) it is to run sub 2:15 for a marathon.
  • Mike

    i respect you sir!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Cheers Hippo,

    But you and me are in the same situation - we work full time, and are trying to be the best we can within our limits. We both know there are no short cuts, and I respect you since you love running no less than me and also put everything in.
  • (except i am not working at the mo-but i am injured)


    I agree with you about thr giving up bit

    it--well its doesnt compute

    am being polite
  • Well good luck to him, but does he fully understand the challenge. The first improvements are the easy ones. After that, it gets lots, lots harder.

    We've had a few people pop up on here over the years with similar aspirations. I'm not sure any of them have done what they targetted though.

    (apologies if they did and I missed it though)
  • Inspired? well maybe, certainly feel like my performance improvement targets are maybe a little too modest in comparison

    Given his business I think an overly ambitous project is the only one that makes sense. I am impressed by what he has achieved but I think he will ultimately fail.
  • But isn't it like this with many things in life that some things come much easier to some than others. Yes I can see why its disheartening when someone comes along and does in a year what someone else has spent ten years of blood, sweat and tears to achieve, but that's life isn't it?

    Whether in sports, or music or academia, there will always be some who somehow have to work less hard for the same results. At uni there were some who would revise for months and still get the same grades than someone who just did a night of cramming. Doesn't feel fair but such is life.

    But seems this guy works hard on what he's trying to achieve. I had a look at his sight and I didn't think he was being unduly smug or anything? If he falls off what some people seem to perceive as his high horse than it will be a pretty public humiliation and I do think its a little sad that some people would rub their hands in glee if he failed.

    I wish him well anyway.

    Stuart: To one of the earlier posters saying they 'know they will never be an elite athlete' - it's quite ironic. Here you have a seemingly ordinary runner who has set himself a high goal to reach, who before it, may have been in the category of never becoming an elite runner too, but it's not stopped him before he started.

    That was me who posted that and I agree with you its great he's trying. I know for a fact that I'll never be an elite runner, not only because I recognise my biomechanical, financial and time limitations, but more importantly, because I wouldn't be prepared to make the sacrifices necessary to get that good, and for that I respect him and anyone else who is that passionate about somehting. :-)
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