On the fells and marathons: Dave Cannon
“A fully trained athlete is on the verge of illness all the time. Someone once said this when asked how much training you should do: “it is a bit like blowing up a balloon. You blow, you blow a bit more and then POP, back to square one”.
Dave Cannon in a profile published in the Winter 2017 issue of Fellrunner.
This comes from a profile I wrote of him after I met him in 2017, when he was working as elite athlete coordinator for the London Marathon. He was British Fell Champion in 1972, and later moved to the marathon to run 2-11.
I had a long and fascinating chat with him at Marathon HQ, about his running, on the fells in particular, and also his marathon running days and work with elite marathoners, including coaching Kenny Stuart.
Cannon was known as a great descender on the fells, and gave this description of competing in the Whernside Junior race:
You have a wall to get over when descending. Well I was coming down so fast, I was not going to stop to climb it, so I took off a few yards from the wall, got one foot on top and over! There was a fell race follower watching the race at this point and he said to me afterwards that he had never seen anything like it before. I hadn’t the heart to tell him it hadn’t been intentional.
The full article can be read here [PDF link], and includes some great stories about his training and racing, together with him talking about being diagnosed with ME/CFS, which effectively finished his career.
Cannon is one of four case studies on CFS that are included in an article I wrote with Steve Birkinshaw, which was entitled Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in elite athletes, and was also published in Fellrunner.