Tim Carder

A complete compendium on anything you may wish to know about Brighton and Hove Albion. If you are ever need of a fact, a stat – then Tim Carder is the man to ask. Here he shares his running memories and more…..

Please tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m a first-generation Brightonian, born in the old maternity hospital in Buckingham Road. My dad was a farmer in Devon. Mum, from Middlesex, was posted to his farm when she was in the Land Army after the war.

Dad, who died when I was seven, had not been a great farmer, apparently, and they moved to Brighton in the mid 1950s with my older brother. That was fortunate as I naturally grew up supporting “by far the greatest team the world has ever seen”. Well, that’s what we’ll sing at the Albion again when we’re allowed back in.

When did you first start running?

I was always quite sporty at school and loved being out of the classroom, although I was pretty average at everything – football, rugby, cricket, athletics. I was a sprinter if anything, and really hated cross-country running.

However, we did try orienteering briefly. It must have been about 1972. I love maps, and was the family map-reader from a young age. Even though it involved a lot of running, I took to it and did well because I could read the map better than most. It didn’t feel like cross-country at all.

After school I went to Imperial College, London, studying physics and electronics, and sport rather fell by the wayside. My first job was with the BBC, as a communications engineer and then in electronic design.

We had an inter-departmental football tournament and I organised our team. Realising I was not as fit as I should have been, I decided to take up running a set route around Hollingbury Castle and Withdean Park. It worked to an extent – at least I wasn’t sick on the pitch at half time like one of my team-mates.

This would have been circa 1983. I think the London Marathon was inspiring people to take up running, and when I was living in London I used to run round Wandsworth Common.

What made you start running?

I left the BBC and decided to return to Brighton, still working in electronics. I took up badminton after enjoying it on TV, and joined a local club. Judith was already a member and we were paired together. We developed into a reasonable doubles pairing – on and off the court!

We both liked the outdoors so I suggested we try orienteering. I wanted to get fitter and she wanted to improve her map-reading skills, bearing in mind we were taking regular holidays climbing the Scottish mountains.

So, we were doing a lot of walking, orienteering and badminton. Then one day Judith decided to become a runner! I’ll let her talk about that if she can be persuaded to participate in this series.

I always maintained that I was an orienteer and not a runner. Orienteering is, for me, cross-country running with a purpose, and I suppose that made it acceptable. It has also taken us to so many places that we would not otherwise have visited or had access to. It is, truly, a fine sport – as long as competitors don’t ask you the way.

However, Judith’s enthusiasm for pure running eventually rubbed off on me, and on holiday in 2003 we both entered a local event in the Highlands, the Laggan 10k. I had some badminton shoes with me so wore those. Rather naively I thought I’d just run alongside her. Well, I did for 2k or so! She won the women’s vet prize, and I did 61 minutes on a hilly route.

Of course, then I wanted to get under 60 minutes, which I did at my next race, the Midhurst 10k. Subsequently I joined Brighton & Hove AC where Judith was a member, and started doing more races.

I never really did any training. I just ran a bit outside of races to keep fit – plus the orienteering of course – and relied on my natural ability to see me across the line. (Yes, I know what you’re thinking!)

When did you join the Hedgehoppers and why/what made you become a regular?

Although a member of an athletics club, I was really a road or all-terrain runner. I used to enter 10k races – Brighton, Heathfield, Hellingly, Horsham, Newick, etc – but I also found myself entering the likes of the Splash Point, Fittleworth, Lewes and Portslade races. So I knew about the West Sussex Fun Run League and figured that I would like to run for a club that competed in those races rather than being the only Brighton & Hove runner. And Portslade Hedgehoppers was the nearest one.

I used to read about the Hedgehoppers on the noticeboard at the sports centre (where we played badminton) and in 2006 I applied to join, but after contacting Stella I twisted my ankle very badly and took it no further.

A few years later, in 2011, I ran the Hangover 5 and bumped into Roy Taylor and Mike Airey at the finish, both of whom I knew from Brighton & Hove. They said I should join the Hedgehoppers, which I duly did. I didn’t need much persuading.

I met Marilyn before the Worthing Lido race to buy a vest. She was so friendly and welcoming and made me feel at home straight away. Then I did the Valentine’s race – the muddy one – at Southwater and scored for the club (in addition to a participation point). That was a big thrill for a serial under-achiever, and I really felt part of something.

What I didn’t realise then was that the Valentine race’s reputation put many people off taking part, and that me scoring for the club would actually be an extremely rare event. Indeed, it’s only happened once since – at Highdown in the pouring rain when I forgot my running shoes and ran in my street shoes!

Best thing about being a Hopper?

The friendliness. It is the friendliest club I have belonged to.

Even though hardly anyone knew me back in 2011, I loved the “Well done Hedgehopper” shouts around the course and at the finish. It made me feel part of something.

Portslade Hedgehoppers have a very broad range of abilities, yet somehow everyone seems to integrate together, which is marvellous. Supporting each other, whatever our standard, to do the best we can is at the heart of the club’s ethos. I make a point of cheering all our runners home at the end of a race before engaging in the chit-chat – that’s what being a member of a club should be about. Of course, there are fewer of them finishing behind me with each passing year.

I like the varied programme of Fun Run League races – the Beach Run, the downland courses, the evening races, …. It’s a shame the mudfest at Southwater has gone, in my opinion. Every year I think “Oh no, not that climb up the Round Hill Romp again,” but this year, of course, we would all have loved to do it.

Then there are the cakes … and a particular mention for Zoë here who, race after race, produces the most delicious rewards for her fellow runners. Thank you.

As for Tuesday night runs, well it was a long time before I took part because I used to play football at the sports centre on the same night. But injuries eventually put paid to my soccer career so I turned to running the streets of Portslade and the Downs to the north. Running in a supportive group is the very best way to get you out and keep you fit when you might otherwise stay indoors. There’s a communal sense of achievement (and a masochistic pleasure) in a small band of runners braving atrocious weather together.

I have also found that I like to lead the occasional route, trying to take members to places they might not have been to before (which is not easy). I was thrilled to read that Gemma, having pounded the streets of London, was “wowed” by the bluebells in Stanmer Park on one of her first runs with the club.

All in all then, a wonderfully friendly club that, amazingly, doesn’t even charge a membership fee!

Favourite running memory i.e. that WOW moment?

I’m not sure any race stands out because I’m simply not that competitive (although I suspect James will disagree after we once had a tight finish at Lancing). I suppose I might be if I were a better runner, but in fact I’m not even sure I like racing.

What I do like is being fit enough to put on a pair of running shoes and know that, in less than an hour, I can have run from my front door to Ditchling Beacon, be on the South Downs Way amid glorious scenery, and be perfectly capable of getting myself home from there. That gives me an enormous sense of well-being.

It was the same feeling when I took up cycling about 12 years ago. Suddenly I discovered that I could be on the seafront in less than 15 minutes under my own steam (with a little help from gravity). To me that was amazing – and what a wonderful area we live in for both running and cycling.

What’s the longest distance you’ve every run?

Being married to a determined marathon runner, and seeing the training she would put in each year, made me declare that I’d never do a marathon. Then they decided to put on one that starts a mile from home in Preston Park. I figured that it was now or never.

I have run the Brighton Marathon three times, but only on the last occasion, in 2018, did I really do the training and come up with a race plan that suited me on the day, allowing me to run what I thought was a decent race. I fell apart along the prom a bit and lost five minutes, but a “C’mon Tim” from the spectating Geraldine picked me up to complete in 4:17. I’m happy with that, so I don’t think I need do another.

Favourite running event and why?

I used to think it was the Fittleworth 5. I had a bit of a love-hate relationship with the course but it was purely love when it came to the cakes!

But now I think it’s the Hornets Stinger 10k. It’s really quite tough and a great test in lovely countryside. The raffle in the clubhouse and the atmosphere there make it even more special – and I can cycle there from home.

I don’t seem to do much outside of the Fun Run League races these days.

Do you live by any motto?

Someone very wise once said something along the lines of “Don’t stop doing things because you get old. You get old because you stop doing things.”

That’s how I look at life these days. Injuries have probably ended my badminton and football days, but I hope never to have to hang up my running or orienteering shoes, nor lose my sense of adventure.

Please tell us one thing about yourself that people may not know?

Being married to a serial medal winner made me want to win just one athletics medal myself as an adult. My last one was for the under-9s 100 yards!

When I was in Brighton & Hove AC we had some special vets coaching from Mike Ellis-Martin (a former Hedgehopper) in all sorts of disciplines. As a result I entered the 2013 Sussex Masters Pentathlon championships – javelin, long jump, 200m, discus and 1500m – and won the silver medal. The winner (Brian Slaughter of Eastbourne Rovers) had won the World Masters Decathlon title that year, so I was on the podium alongside a world champion.

And the following year I won Sussex Masters titles at high jump, triple jump and race-walking, and was runner-up in the 800m. So an athletics medal is now off my wish list!

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

If Judith does one of these profiles she will probably be too modest to make much of her running career. She didn’t start until she was 39 but in her heyday, before injuries slowed her down, she was extremely good. She is my inspiration in so many ways – and she puts up with all my football activities!