Updated: Sep 23, 2020
Ali Whitelaw, Wrexham AC has been one of the leading runners in North Wales over the past 35 years finishing in the top 3 places in the North Wales Cross Country Championships on 10 occasions and picking up 12 age group titles. She has also won many Welsh and British Masters titles and for the past 15 years has combined running with Team Managing the Welsh Women’s Masters Team.
1: How and when did you start running?
In 1985 I’d started to go out with Andy Whitelaw again (having first met him in 1978). He was a keen runner now and had joined Wrexham AAC. I wanted to lose weight, [I was 11 stone] and thought why not have a go. Andy was very encouraging and helped me with my training schedule. I was aiming to do the Shrewsbury half marathon but managed to fall off my bike and break my collarbone so running came to an abrupt halt. I got back into training and my first race was the Shrewsbury Boxing Day 5mile in 1986. I was so nervous as I didn’t want to be last so Andy ‘ran’ with me and he made sure I wasn’t last, he finished last and I was second to last. I completed my first 5 mile race in 48.01.
2: Despite starting later, my records show that you are one of the most prolific race winners in the history of the North Wales Cross county league with eleven wins and lots of top three finishes. You won your first race at Madeley Court, Shrewsbury in February 1990. What recollections of that do you have?
I remember it well (it was actually Madeley Court, Telford). I was really enjoying my running as all my training had started to show results and in cross country I was getting closer to finishing first so it was my ambition to achieve this. It’s strange how running makes you so competitive as I had never been interested in doing well in sports, content just being able to compete. On that day I remember going on the club bus and listening to David Williams’ usual banter. Tracy Clarke from Telford AAC was the girl to catch as she had been winning the previous races and I remember catching her, passing her and then running as fast I could to the finishing funnel hoping she wouldn’t catch me. I was so pleased to be handed that No 1 ticket and I know there was another runner who was equally pleased as me, Andy.
3: Despite winning 12 Masters Titles and having 10 top 3 finishes in senior women race at North Wales Cross Country Championships you never actually won the title. Was this frustrating and how close did you get?
I am frustrated not to have won a North Wales XC Championship. I was second so many times, to different winners. One year I managed to pass Lynn Madison (Col Bay) but then Liz Hughes (Aberystwyth) passed me to win, another time I passed Liz Hughes and Lynn Madison won, and so on, and so on. The one time I thought I would win was when I’d won all the North Wales League XC races in 1998 so was running well but the day before I went down with a heavy cold and on the day of the race, I felt rotten but decided to do the race anyway. The race was being at Welshpool on fields by the Leisure Centre. I was leading the race and really thought this was going to be my day despite my cold, I was sprinting to the finishing funnel when this girl who I’d never seen before sprinted in front of me and got there before me. I was gutted and so disgusted; I went home without stopping for the presentation.
4: What are your PB’s?
800m: 2.25 5K: 17.06