Runners in Oswestry had the chance to pick up some expert advice last week as two long-distance experts delivered a talk in the town.

Organised by Alan Lewis of Adrenaline Sporting Events, an audience of more than 80 people was in attendance to listen to Andrew Davies – a Welshpool-born long-distance and mountain-runner, and Steve Vernon – long-distance runner and Andy’s coach, share their knowledge and tips about the sport.

It was a chance for the keen runners in the audience to learn from the best, with Andrew currently holding the British over-40s record for a marathon, after finishing in two hours, 14 minutes and 36 seconds.

Steve was also able to give expert advice after being the man who has helped to engineer Andrew’s success over the years through his guidance and coaching.

The record-breaking runner gave the audience an insight into how his career took off, and how his younger years were spent playing football.

He said: “[My love for running] all began for me on the mountains around here, and I just fell in love with running from there.

“I was fortunate to get into the Welsh under-20s running team when I was 13, and that’s where my competitive running began.

“When I was growing up in my teenage years, although I loved running, I loved football as well.

“I broke many of my dad’s sheds kicking a football around the garden at a young age.

“I played for Kerry and then ended up winning the league there a couple of times before moving to Caersws first team where I scored 48 goals.

“I was still running to a good level up until the age of 18 and 19 for Wales, but the football took over for a while then.

“Then in 2006 I went travelling and decided I wanted to do a marathon out there, so I did one in Christchurch on three weeks notice.”

Andrew finished his first ever marathon in two hours and 53 minutes, prompting him to take part in marathons between football seasons.

As his football career progressed, Andrew began running more and playing less football, until the age of 34 when he retired from football to focus on running.

The success continued for him from there onwards after he picked up a silver medal in the Commonwealth Games, inspiring him to set his sights on more achievements, including the British over-40s marathon record.

Andrew’s achievements did not come easily however, with his training programme consisting of regular 13-mile runs in the evenings.

This led to him winning a world championship medal in Poland, before targeting the over-40s record.

He said: “Not many people are in a rush to get to 40, but I was so I could have a go at the record.

“I turned 40 in October, but there wasn’t many spring marathons for me to target. Florence was very tough conditions and New York was very hilly, so I set my sights on breaking the record at Valencia.

“Conditions for that race were good and everything seemed to work well that day fortunately.”

Helped by his coach Steve, Andrew was able to smash his personal bests over a wide range of distances, including completing a 5k in less than 15 minutes, a 10k in under half-an-hour, 10 miles in fewer than 50 minutes, and a half-marathon in less than 65 minutes.

Coach Steve, who described Andrew as one of the best athletes to coach, said he takes just as much pride in watching his athletes succeed as he did from winning races himself.

He said: “I could see how much thought and time Andy had put into breaking that record.

“Seeing him do that was just as big of an achievement as it was for me to achieve things as a runner myself.

“I’m always calm before races, but as soon as one of my runners sets off, I’m as nervous as I would be as a runner taking part.”

Using his coaching expertise, Steve was quick to offer advice to those looking to improve their running times.

“What I say to people is that when they’re starting out, you should remember there is a lot of genetics involved in running,” he explained.

“We could all train as hard as Andrew and probably still not run anywhere near his marathon time.

“If you open him up, he has a Ferrari engine and there’s not much we can do to match that.

“But, we can all improve. The one thing I think people do is train too hard.

“You can improve your running by doing more exercise and doing plenty of easy aerobic running.

“Not everyone can run everyday, but the more sessions you can fit in, the more you can improve.”

The event, which was free with an optional charity donation, was well-received by the audience, much to organiser Alan’s delight.

He said: “I really wanted to get these two great people here to share their stories from their time in the running industry.

“The event sold out within 24 hours which was just great to see.

“We’ve had a really good response to the event. Obviously it’s a free event but it’s nice to be supporting charities as well.

“The charity side of the evening was really important, and to stick with the running theme, we decided to support five people running the London Marathon, so the money will be split between the five runners from five different towns, supporting five different charities.

“It’s really unique to have this opportunity in Oswestry to welcome a fantastic GB runner in Andy and his coach to come along and share their stories.

“We’re very grateful to them for being here, and we’re also grateful to Aico for allowing us to be the first to use the new auditorium in their new base.”