Tribute to Martin Thompson – A founding member of Harriers
Article from the Harriers Weekly Newsletter April 7th 2016 by Geoff Duffell.
Vale Martin Thompson (Died 3rd April 2016)
Martin Thompson: Harriers founding member, coach and motivator, club administrator, life member, international athlete, teacher, sports scientist.
Martin Thompson’s recent passing (3 April) means the loss of one of the most influential figures in the club’s history. Martin inspired and motivated many.
In the early days he turned local runners into junior Victorian champions, and inspired many others to achieve outstanding running results. He served many years in club administration roles where his innovative ideas and sound judgment helped in early club building.
In the 1970’s Martin spent several years in England where he studied and trained, running over 100 marathon and ultramarathon events. He was particularly successful in the ultramarathon events with many top placings and several Australian records. His wife Linda also competed successfully in many of these events.
On their return in 1979, Martin and Linda had joint wins in the Traralgon Marathon. They left Traralgon for Sydney some 30 years ago for Martin to take up a university teaching and research position. Despite his Sydney commitments, he maintained local connections and a continuing interest in the club’s progress.
Martin’s legacy to the club can still be seen. In the club’s early years the stringent requirements of amateurism meant strict oversights on every club’s rules and activities. Martin thought that democracy, with decisions entirely in the hands of members, was more important. He devised club by-laws as a means to enable greater club autonomy and member democracy.
In the mid-1970s another of Martin’s ideas was to implement mid-week runs which, under the prevailing rules, were not strictly legal. They were an immediate success. Martin had sensed a turning tide in the emergence of fun running, with its wide popular appeal, suddenly outstripping interest in track events.
In Sydney, Martin’s contribution to the wider running world was orientated towards practical applications. For example, he used techniques for enhanced treadmill training with runners he coached. Two of them won national championships.
A major area of Martin’s experimental studies was into exercise in hot and humidity conditions. His expertise was called on to assist Olympic squads with their event preparation and heat acclimatisation programs.
In recent years Martin had had a number of overseas trips where his technical knowledge on training principles and advice on sports programs had been sought.
Perhaps Martin’s life approach is best summed up by a sticker he once had on his car:
“Jog a bit. It keeps you fit.”
Our sympathies go to Martin’s family, particularly his wife Linda, brother Leigh and sister Dale, all of them runners and contributors in the early years of our club.