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'What Made Him Go So Wonderfully Mad?'
Kenny Moore
February 16, 1983
So Inquired a friend of David Moorcroft after the Briton broke the world 5,000 record in an amazing performance
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February 16, 1983

'what Made Him Go So Wonderfully Mad?'

So Inquired a friend of David Moorcroft after the Briton broke the world 5,000 record in an amazing performance

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"Your father isn't home yet," says Milly.

"Well, we have questions for you, too," says Moorcroft, usurping the visitor's role. "Just how did you encourage me when I was but a child?"

"Well, it was a way of life, wasn't it?" Milly says to her son, then turns to the visitor. "This house revolved around the running. David's dad went abroad quite often and always brought back running shoes for him. And my mum always made running shorts...."

"I ran in the Olympics with Grandma's shorts," says David. "She made shorts for the whole Loughborough University team."

"I didn't enjoy going to cold cross-country races as much as your father did," Milly continues. "I always thought you should win...."

David nudges his visitor.

"...I was dreadful," she goes on. "Once we watched you lead the whole way and then be passed. 'That shouldn't be allowed,' I said. 'To stay behind all that time and nip ahead in the last few feet.' My heart always went out to David. He didn't grow until he was 15."

She brings out some well-kept photo albums, the captions neatly typed. In each, somewhere, is a tiny, pale boy with soft, short blond hair and about five pounds of clenched teeth. "An angelic child," Moorcroft says dreamily, watching his former self running amid taller, more mature competitors through the mud and hills of the Warwickshire cross-country in 1965 or in the huge mass of the English Schools Championships in 1966. "I was 86th," says David, "but Warwickshire was always the winning team, every time I ran it. Cross-country was the thing. I never ran track then."

"We knew he tried so very hard," says his mother, still faintly dubious. "He tried and tried. Following from that, I guess we'd have thought...that he'd be better. Your dad said you'd be in the Olympics. I never really thought that. I worried about school being left behind somewhat."

Moorcroft is absorbed in the photographs. In the group pictures, he points out all the runners of talent he began with, and was mauled by. "That's David Glassborrow, who broke the age-16 1,500 record of Jim Ryun. And there's David Black, who became an internationalist for England, and that's Ray Smedley, who was a semifinalist in the 1972 Olympic 1,500 and this year got 11th in the Brisbane marathon." His tone is of reverie tinged with regret. None of these men ran a world record. "They could have done better," he says. "It seems they could have done better."

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