John Randall’s illustrious cycling career has spanned sixty eight years. In 1946, as a fifteen year old in Horsham, Surrey, John won the Hotham United Cycling Club’s 10 mile handicap in a time of 30 mins and 18 sec. In 2014, at the age of 84, John won the VVCC (M 80 – 84) 25 km Time Trial Championship on his home course at Paraparap, Geelong.
As a youngster John ran and cycled with his twin brother Peter and he was very successful in both disciplines. Running for Horsham Blue Star Harriers he represented Sussex in cross country as an 18 year old and the following year he set the county road cycling record for a 12 hour Championship covering almost 246 miles (384 kms)
John and his teammates from Horsham United Cycling Club (circa 1950)
After his youthful athletics and cycling exploits John settled down to enjoying family life and establishing a career. With four children, John and his wife, Sylvia, migrated to Australia in 1967. He started his own business at Croydon, eventually employing ten people, making speaker boxes and stereo and television cabinets.
With business and family commitments there was little time for running or cycling. However, when he was 50 John received a little reminder from one of his daughters that he seemed to be developing “ middle age spread” and this prompted him to join a gym. He thought running to and from the gym would also be beneficial and this developed to such an extent that he was soon running marathons. His best effort was a very respectable 2 hr 47 min 11 sec for the Dromana marathon in 1982. He was also extremely competitive at shorter distances with times of 36mins 19 secs for 10 km and 17 min 07 secs for 5 km road races.
In 1984 John was devastated by the death of his son, Adam, from a brain tumour at eighteen years of age. Although it is an event that is always remembered John’s positive approach to overcoming challenges has allowed him deal with the grief associated with such a loss.
John’s other sporting passion around this time was sailboarding and he would often spend time at Lake Connewarre, the foreshore at Torquay and the river at Barwon Heads. However, it was the lack of wind over a prolonged period that prompted his return to his first sporting love. With no sailboarding possible he pulled out one of his old bikes and went for a ride. He says that he “felt like eighteen again” and thus began his involvement in the Geelong Veteran’s and Geelong Supervet competitions.
John has been a very active and committed Club Member. He has been at the forefront of competition at Club, State and National level. He was treasurer of the club in 2006 and 2007. In later years as he has reduced his racing commitments he has been a willing volunteer as marshall, starter and timekeeper at Supervet races.
John has a box full of medals, ribbons and medallions and a trophy cabinet that is overflowing with booty that he has collected over the years. The following list is simply a selection of the notable races that John has excelled in in his long sporting career:
1946 First 10 mile handicap Horsham United Cycling Club (UK) 30 mins 18 sec
1950 First 100 mile Time Trial Horsham United Cycling Club 4 hrs 34 mins 12 sec
1950 Twelve hour record 245 miles 1100 yds
1952 First 100 mile Time Trial 4 hrs 32 mins 04 secs
1952 Fastest time 30 miles 1 hr 16 mins 26 secs
1981 Second 10 km run Victorian Veteran’s Athletic Championships 36 mins 19 secs
1981 Second 5 km run Victorian Veteran’s Athletics Championships 17 mins 07 secs
2002 Second 20 km Time Trial World Master’s Games (Melbourne) 34 mins 25 secs
2002 First Age Adjusted Time Trial GVCC
2007 First Time Trial M 75-79 AVCC
2009 First Road Race M75-79 AVCC (Perth)
2009 First Time Trial M75-79 World Masters Games (Sydney)
2010 First Road Race M80- 84 AVCC
2010 First Criterium M8—84 AVCC
2011 First Criterium M80-84 AVCC(Adelaide)
2011 First 25 km Time Trial M80-84 AVCC (Adelaide)
2013 First M80 – 84 AVCC
2014 First 25 km Time Trial M80 + VVCC
Although John has “officially” retired from competition he did indicate in his “retirement” speech that he might be tempted at 100 to try to break the one hour mark on the track. Just for the record, it is now held by a 102 year old Frenchman, Robert Marchand, with a distance of 26.927 kms.
The best of luck, John.
ps – Regrettably, John passed away in 2021 and will be missed by all.
Martin Read, “Action Man – Horsham cyclist John Randall is still breaking records at 81”, Sussex Sport, Issue 07 page 39
Emma Pollock (John’s granddaughter) “John’s Journey” Primary School Project, 2010