Famous people I have met - by Don Shelley

Sporting Stories writes... Don Shelley is one of North Staffordshire's finest - a great runner, the founder of the Potteries Marathon and an individual who has dedicated his life to supporting athletics - as an athlete, coach and administrator. It's people like Don who lay the foundations for sporting success nationally.

The most famous person I have met is Prince Charles. He came to Northwood Stadium where we waited in line to meet him. When he reached me he asked what event I did? I replied that I was a coach and he said that he thought I was too old to be an athlete. I was in my forties!!!

The next famous person I met was Lord Lichfield, who I met at Shugborough, his home. He presented me with an award for the Potteries Marathon, which had been voted the Best Race in Britain by the readers of the magazine Today’s Runner.

Next is Sir Stan Matthews, who was Patron of the Potteries Marathon for several years. I met him numerous times as he always came to the race and was driven around the course.

In 1981 I went to a race in Japan and met Dick Beardsley, who a few weeks later was the joint winner of the first London Marathon.

Some time later on a visit to Czechoslovakia for the Kosice Marathon I met the famous Emile Zatopek, it was amazing to come face to face with such an iconic figure.

Finally, while racing in Belgium I ended up sharing a changing room with the legendary Gaston Roelants, Olympic Steeplechase Champion and the holder of several world records for distance races.

When I ran my first race back in the 1950s I never dreamt it would lead to such meetings and to travelling around the world. And a special thanks to my wife Gill - I couldn't have done it without her support.

Don winning the Mitcham 25km road race, 1962

Don winning the Mitcham 25km road race, 1962