Running the OU

Towards the end of 1973, immediately following the completion of his degree at Cambridge –where he was awarded a Blue for Cross Country, Les Irvine started work within the OU Student Computing Service at Walton Hall.  A keen runner he had competed for Scotland as a Junior in the ‘International’, the predecessor of the World Cross Country Championships, and he started to arrange runs from the Walton Hall campus.  He also ran between his workplace and his home 6.5 miles away in Wolverton. He only came to work on the bus on Mondays, when he brought in clean clothes and on he returned home by bus with the dirty ones each Friday. A couple of years later in 1975 Mick Bromilow joined the OU as a Course Assistant  in Mathematics. Initially he lodged with Les. He started to run to and from work with Les. They also did a 10 mile run on Monday lunchtimes. By 1976 Mick had moved to his own home and no longer ran to work from Wolverton. However, he kept running and later went on to chair the Marshall Milton Keynes Athletics Club. In 1977 Les emigrated to Australia. By the 1980s Les found that, following surgery for a congenital heart problem, he was unable to run. He died of a heart attack in the early 1990s. Inspired by his example and his pioneering of new routes around the Walton Hall campus, a group of his friends donated to found the Les Irvine Memorial Trophy for the OU Relay. This annual race is still run, generally in March , to this day.

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