Master class! Teacher Roger finds new discipline and inspires pupils

Sunday 19th December 2021

By Katy Barden

Inspiration comes in many guises.

For Roger Clark, who once taught at Sir Roger Bannister’s former school and later at Gareth Southgate’s, it originated through association and continues as a result of his own action.

Clark is a chemistry, science and computer science teacher at Breadalbane Academy in Aberfeldy. He is also the British Masters 400m champion (54.37), a title he won in August 2021 in his first season competing over the one-lap distance.

An accomplished endurance athlete who represented Scotland in V45 cross country and triathlon prior to his injury-enforced transition to the track, Clark has been surprised – and energised – by his Masters event switch.

‘I had a really good season in 2017, but that’s when my hip problem started,’ explained the PH Racing athlete.

‘It’s the weirdest thing, but when I tried running again I found that there was no pain when I was running super-fast, so I just kept that ball rolling and eventually just thought, ‘what events could we do here?

‘I had run the 400m at school and it’s one of those things, if you’ve done something when you’re younger you’ve still got it in you. I was a good school runner, so I thought ‘let’s just give this a go’, and it snowballed from there with my first race at the Scottish Champs.

‘I didn’t really have any expectations that I’d be able to run 400m quickly, but what you begin to realise is that if you gradually increase the intensity, your body can actually cope with it.’

Clark has polycystic kidney disease (PKD), an inherited condition which can lead to the deterioration of kidney function. As a result, in addition to adapting his training to maximise his potential on the track, he has to keep on top of his blood pressure to ensure there is no detrimental effect on his kidneys.

‘I think it’s definitely helped me keep a healthy lifestyle,’ added the V50 athlete who trains predominantly with his wife Anna, a talented runner in her own right.

‘I’ve used some of the PH sessions in my training plan, but I’ve done a lot of strength training and I’ve listened to loads of podcasts, so I’ve soaked that all up. Without the strength training I tend to find I get little niggles, so it’s been a big focus, as well as a lot of mobility exercises.’

Masters athletics and all the associated camaraderie has provided Clark with a new lease of life. It has inspired him to reset his own goals, as well as to positively impact those around him.

‘My Masters experience has been absolutely fantastic so far,’ he said.

‘Athletes have their game face on before the races, but once the race is done everyone is best of friends and very supportive.

‘I’m actually keeping in touch with a couple of guys I raced against (at the British Championships) to share training ideas and stuff. There’s definitely a team feeling about it and everyone wants everyone else to do their best.’

It’s a community similar to that of PH Racing.

‘We have a brilliant ethos at the club,’ said Clark, who is now looking ahead to next summer’s World Masters Championships.

‘There is definitely a culture of achievement and of going beyond what you thought was possible, and I definitely feel that I’ve bought into that. It’s about encouraging each other and pushing each other on to achieve some really fantastic performances.’

Clark lives and breathes that mentality. He’s now using his own experiences to inspire others through the creation of a school running club which saw a group of athletes attend the Scottish Secondary Road Race Championships for the first time.

‘We’ve had an amazing response. It’s a rural area and these kids are very robust and have a lot of resilience, so we knew they could be good at running.’

Their teacher, evidently, isn’t too bad either.


Tags: Masters athletics, PH Racing, Roger Clark

Expand Social Feeds