Alan passed away peacefully early on Sunday morning in Munich - 07.05.06.
Eulogies from his Munich funeral, and Auckland memorial, can be read here.
Bettina's letter to Al - Englsih Dan - German Dan - English Phil - English
Tessa - English Sherrida - English Greg - English Brett - English Jack - English
Beloved Husband, dearest Alan.
There are no words to describe the loss.
There are no words to describe the incredible pain in my heart.
There are no words to describe the feeling of missing future.
There are no words to describe the emptiness I’m going through.
There are no words to describe the shock I’m still in.
But there are many words to say how much I have loved you.
How much I have loved to share my life with you.
How much I have loved to be your wife, your soul mate and life companion for ever How much I have loved to travel with you around the world
How much I have loved to be beside you during day- and night time
How much I have loved your sense of humour and imitations of all kind of languages How much I have loved to eat what you have cooked for me - or to cook for you
How much I have loved to hear you singing whatever you were doing
How much I have loved to share your opinion about daily matters and job decisions How much I have loved having you beside or right behind me
How much I have loved to feel protected by you
How much I have loved to chat along while sitting next to you in the car
How much I have loved to share all sorts of activities with you
How much I have loved to support your sport ambitions
How much I have loved to see your smiling face where ever we met
How much I have loved to touch your curly hair and to smell your skin
How much I have loved to be kissed by you
How much I have loved to tell you how incredible lucky I felt living my life together with you. And how happy I am that we have told us all these things ourselves already in the many years we have been together.
There is nothing I have not told you already.
Thank you for your love.
Thank you for having enriched my life and made me the luckiest women of the world for the last 19 years.
You will be in my heart and soul for ever.
I love you.
Your wife Bettina
Dan's Eulogy - German
“Ui mai koe ki ahau he aha te mea nui o te ao,
Maku e ki atu he tangata, he tangata, he tangata!"
AlBob, es gab mir grosse Befriedigung in der Trauer, dass ich in den letzten Wochen Kontakt aufnehmen durfte mit vielen Menschen aus deinem riesigen Freundeskreis in der ganzen Welt. Wie du weisst durfte ich viele feine Worte und Bilder weitergeben. Aber besonders beeindruckt hat mich dieses Zitat auf Maori, das dein Schwager, Eddie Karauria, zustellte. Übersetzt heisst es:
“Frag mich was das beste in der Welt ist: dann antworte ich: es sind die Menschen, es sind die Menschen, es sind die Menschen.“
AlBob, in deinem ganzen Leben, ja sogar in diesen letzten Wochen, zeigtest du uns dass Menschen der Lebensinhalt für dich sind. Du nahmst dir immer Zeit für deine Mitmenschen, sei es deine geliebte Bettina, deine Familie, Freunde; neu und alt; und deren Familien, Kollegen von deiner Arbeit, Kunden – oder einfach Zufallsbegegnungen.
Bettina sagte mir “Leben und leben lassen“ war dein Motto, dein Weg. Du brachtest Lichtblicke in das Leben so vieler Menschen– mit deiner selbstvertrauenden, bescheidenen Art. Hunderte von Menschen überall auf unserm schönen Planet sind bessere Menschen geworden dadurch, dass sie dich kennengelernt haben – auch wenn manche davon nicht einmal wissen, dass du nun auf der Weiterreise bist.
Du konntest zuhören, lächeln, beraten, spassen, lieben, singen, lachen – was immer ein Mensch brauchte, du warst grosszügig es ihm zu geben. Deine leuchteten Augen, dein offenes Herz...und oft deine grossen Vorderzähne... haben viele Menschen weitergeholfen. Du warst da für alle. Du hast uns gezeigt, dass Menschen das wichtigste sind im Leben. “He aha te mea nui o te ao, he tangata!”
Ein anderes Zitat trifft genau auf dich zu Albob:
“Das Leben wird nicht gemessen in der Zahl der Atemzüge, sondern in den Augenblicken wo es einem den Atem verschlägt.“
⌋ Diese letzten Wochen haben unsern Atem verschlagen! ⌋
Du hast mich in den 33 Jahren unserer Freundschaft sehr bereichtert, mit ungezählten gemeinsamen sportlichen Leistungen, Erlebnissen und atemberaubenden Augenblicken. Wir bleiben dadurch Seelenbrüder. Du liebtest das Leben; du machtest dir keine unangemessen Sorgen über ungewisse Zukunft, du konntest unangenehme Erinnerungen ohne Erbitterung hinter dir lassen. Diese letzten Wochen zusammen mit dir überzeugten uns einmal mehr wie wichtig es ist, heute zu leben, in der Gegenwart, die atemberaubenden Momente nicht zu verpassen wegen kleinen Kummern oder unsichern Plänen.
AlBob, heute .. und immer… werde ich dein Lächeln vor mir haben, wie alle andern die dich kannten. Es wird mir Freude, Zuversicht und Stärke geben, und mich anspornen, in der Gegenwart zu leben und mir Zeit zu nehmen für meine Mitmenschen. Thanks heaps mate….for everything…ich bleibe dir immer treu...loyal…(speech followed by the well-known and well-loved song “Loyal” from New Zealand’s Dave Dobbin that means so much to Kiwis around the world).
Ake, ake kia kaha (Forever and ever stand strong)
Ka kite ano (See you again)
Dan's Eulogy - English
“Ui mai koe ki ahau he aha te mea nui o te ao,
Maku e ki atu he tangata, he tangata, he tangata!"
AlBob, it eased the grief and gave me great satisfaction these past weeks to communicate your huge network of friends around the world and help bring them together. As you know I passed on many wonderful words and pictures. But the most special impression left on me these last weeks came from this quote in Maori from your bro-in-law, Eddie Karauria. Translated it means:
"Ask me what is the greatest thing in the world, I will reply: it is people, it is people, it is people!"
AlBob, everything you did, even to the very end, showed that people are most important thing in life to you. You always made time for people, be it your beloved Bettina, close family, close friends, old friends, new friends, their families, work colleagues, customers...or just passers-by.
Bettina said to me “Live and let live” was you motto, your way through life. You brought rays of light into so many people’s lives with your self-confident and so modest way. There are hundreds of people out there, some of whom don’t even know you are moving on today, who you touched, in whom you sowed a little seed, who are better for having met you, even if it was only once.
You could smile, listen, advise, joke, love, sing, laugh ... whatever a person's need, you were generous with your time. Your bright eyes, open heart and big front teeth enriched most of those you met in some way. You were there for anyone. You knew and showed us that people are the most important. “He aha te mea nui o te ao, he tangata!”
There’s another quote that is also very applicable to you, Albob:
“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away!”
⌋ Albob, you’ve taken our breath away these last weeks! ⌋
You've enriched me in our 33 years as mates with innumerable shared travels, training sessions, experiences, games, races and breathtaking moments. We’ll forever be “soul-bros”. You treasured life, living in the moment, savouring the breathless ones, not dwelling unnecessarily on uncertain futures or carrying bitterness from unpleasant memories. These past weeks you have clearly shown us yet again, more convincingly than ever, how important it is to live for today, enjoying the present, not missing “breathless moments” because of the other little worries or future plans.
Al, for today...and always...like all people who saw it, I'll remember your smile. It will always gives me joy, guidance and strength and remind me to live in the moment and make time for my loved ones and friends. Thanks heaps mate…for everything…I’ll remain loyal to you...(speech followed by the well-known and well-loved song “Loyal” from New Zealand’s Dave Dobbin that means so much to Kiwis around the world).
Ake, ake kia kaha (Forever and ever stand strong)
Ka kite ano (See you again)
Philip's Eulogy - English
Slightly abridged version of the speech I made in Germany … I had 5mins and wanted to try and relate the kind of person Alan was and what he meant to all of us. I chose to relate two stories:
It is my privilege to represent the kiwis that can’t be here today and in particular the running community. I want to bring greetings and love from them to Alan’s German family and friends and of course to make a personal tribute to big Al Bob.
My first story comes from a long time ago – so long a go – I had hair and Bettina was still waiting at Benedict Language school for a tall sexy kiwi man to stroll in the door and say G’day ….
In those days before Triathlon we used to run road relays for fun ??! . The problem with NZ relays is mountains. The problem with mountains is no-one ever wants to run the downhill lap. What you need is a really light person about 60kg – someone light on their feet someone who just bounces along.
In the 1982 Wellington to Masterton relay NO-ONE wanted to run down the Rimutukas for Takapuna. Of course we couldn’t get a volunteer until one idiot said. Choice ! I’ll do it, no worries – Story!
Of course big Al! He’s nice and light (85kg), light on his feet (leans forward, legs splayed, leaves dents in the tarmac as he runs), only 12km and near his best distance (800m) PERFECT !!
Afterwards his feet were so covered in blisters we had to virtually carry him to get his medal, and a week later I caught him at Teachers College still walking down stairs backwards.
Funny – yes, but typical of Al – he came forward to do the hardest lap – never complained – because Alan would do anything for you he is selfless, willing to the last.
My second story is more recent…
Alan has been a great friend for me for 26 years and has always been there for me. What especially stands out was his role as best man at our wedding last year, He worked and worked on the speech and I know he was soooooo nervous about it – because he wanted to do well for us.
It was the most amazing speech: In 45 mins he made us laugh, he made us cry , he made us feel embarrassed, he made us feel proud, he made us think of others – what he really did was make us all a little more - human.
Two stories 24 years apart – the one consistent thing was Alan’s generous spirit, everybody here has felt it. We will never forget it.
Kia Ora Alan..
This is what I thought that my Uncle Albob was - an Optimist Creed.
An Optimist Creed is :-
1. To be so strong that nothing can spoil your peace of mind.
2. To talk health, happiness and good fortune to every person you meet.
3. To make all your friends feel that they are special and important.
4. To look at the sunny side of everything.
5. To think only of the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best.
6. To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.
7. To forget and forgive the mistakes of the past and to move on to the future.
8. To spend more time improving yourself so you have no time to criticise others.
9. To wear a cheerful expression and to give every creature you meet a smile.
10. To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear and too happy to be weighed down by troubles.
Firstly I would like to thank Dan and Greg for the amazing website they have created. It is awesome that we can all go on and spend time with Alan here.
I would also like to thank Jack and Lesley for their time and effort to ensure that today happened. I am extremely grateful to them both.
Finally I would like to thank Faye and Logan for everything they have done and without them today would not have happened.
I would like to tell you all the things I will miss about Alan.
Firstly, his smile that lights up a room whenever he enters it.
His amazing hugs and affection that, as Allison says, always make you feel safe.
His love for his beloved wife Bettina.
His ability to listen intently to everything you are saying.
His ability to make me laugh with his wit and humour. I have an e-mail that he sent me reciting an ad we used to have on the TV about "Griffins gingernuts".
Although I think this wit and humour will live on in Jordan who also seems to have the ability to remember songs and ads.
His love for our two children.
To Alan I would like to say thank you for making me a very proud sister. I was looking forward to a relationship with you without the cares of either Mum or Dad but alas this was not meant to be.
When your heart stopped beating on the 7th of May a part of mine stopped beating too. Look after Mum and Dad until we see each other again.
Goodbye little brother. I love you
A toothsome smile, sunny dawn... breaking forth
so far, so close, envelopes us with warmth -
booming laugh surges up our tired shore
invigorates, sparkles, recedes.... surging once more -
quiet contemplation, still, harmonious bush
absorbs, peaceful, musing on your thoughts -
calm waters, powerful flow, turbulent energy cascades
though you are no longer here, you are all around us.
- Sherrida, Jordan, Tessa
- Everyone here
- Everyone who can’t be here, especially Bettina and Eddie
- And most importantly, the man himself – Al Bob
It is a privilege and an honour to speak here today.
This is a very sad occasion. For all of us. For me personally it was probably one of the saddest days of my life when I heard the news about Al.
But I’m not going to talk about that. Instead I’m going to highlight the positive stuff about Al’s life. Not because this isn’t a sad occasion, but because I believe that’s what Al would want. And because it’s how I want to remember Al.
So I’m going to talk a bit about our friendship, tell some of the stories, and share some of the laughs we had – and there were plenty of those!
One of the definitions of a friend I’ve heard is that it’s “someone who we can be ourselves with.” If that is correct, then Al was a truly great friend. Al was someone who I always felt I could be myself with. There was no need for pretense, no need to try to impress, no B.S. – no bullshit. And if we hadn’t seen each other for a while, we’d just pick up where we left off, and carry on as usual.
Al’s friends were genuinely important to him. Al had lived in Germany for 18 years, thousands of miles away, but he always made the effort to catch up when he was back in NZ.
Al also had a great love for his family, and of course Bettina. Al would always talk about his family, Ron, Bev, Sherrida, Bettina, whenever I would meet up with him. The last time I saw him in December he spent a lot of time talking about Ron and how, despite being very unwell, he still had a keen interest in all of Alan’s friends, and wanted to know what they were up to. This clearly meant a lot to Al.
One of the clichés we sometimes hear about people is that “No-one ever had a bad word to say about him.” In Al’s case though, that cliché happened to be true. I can honestly say I have never ever heard anyone say a bad word about him, which is a truly remarkable thing these days.
Al and I first met as 16-year-olds, through Jack’s pack. Al was at Rangitoto College, and I was at Auckland Grammar School. That was one of the first things I used to have Al on about. I used to say “Al, it’s a real shame you’re not going to the greatest school in the world. You must be really sad about it…” To which Al would reply “But I am going to the greatest school in the world.” And I would say “But you’re not going to Auckland Grammar.” And Al would say “I know.”
Ever since then whenever Al was back in NZ, I would always say to him “Mate, it’s a real shame you didn’t get to go to the greatest school in the world.” And of course Al would always reply “But, I did…”
So we never will get to settle it now, but I guess in our own minds we both really did go to the ‘greatest schools in the world.’
Al and I were the same age, so right through school, and after leaving school, we did a lot of racing against each other. Al was incredibly competitive on the running track, but he was your best mate off it. And that really typifies Al.
We also did a huge amount of training together, and during that time, apart from smashing each other on all sorts of runs, we also had some great laughs.
Back then Al had a dog called “Tippy.” Tippy was a little Fox Terrier, and Al used to take her on a lot of his training runs. So you would see Al running towards you with his big loping strides, and then somewhere in the distance you’d see Tippy, with her little legs going 19 to the dozen running behind Al.
Al used to take Tippy on all sorts of runs, up around Albany, which was very rural back then, and on various other long runs. Tippy must have been the fittest dog in NZ. Pound for pound she must have had a heart bigger than Phar Lap's.
But Tippy not only had stamina, she also had speed. I was speaking to Russ Haswell the other day, who reminded me of a story about when the boys decided to find out just how fast Tippy was. So what they did was get one of the boys holding Tippy at the start of the 100m at Onewa Domain track, and Al went up to the finish with a stop watch. When Al dropped his arm, they let Tippy go, and Al started the watch. Tippy, who loved Al, and who was going crazy because she’d been separated from him,
took off like a rocket, flying up the track. Russ tells me Tippy was clocked at under 7 seconds for 100m that day, about 3 seconds under the existing 100m world record!
So, forget about John Walker, Peter Snell, and Hamish Carter. In Tippy we had the complete athlete – strength and speed. However, I must admit, I don’t know if Tippy gave a urine sample that day, so we don’t know for sure whether or not her performance was drug assisted, so unfortunately her time will forever have to remain an ‘unofficial’ world record…
I also wanted to mention another friend of many of ours today, Mark Furlan, another member of Jack’s pack back then, who was tragically killed in a cycling accident a few years back. As many of you know Mark was a great dog lover, especially small dogs. So if there is such a thing as heaven I can see it now…Al, Mark, and Tippy, all out for a training run together – all I can say is poor Tippy! So Al, if you’re listening mate, take my advice and leave Tippy at home if you happen to be going out for a run with Furlan!
AL AS A RUNNER / ATHLETE / ACHIEVER
Al was a very talented runner and athlete. In many respects Al and I were similar when it came to running. We’d usually be there or thereabouts, finishing 4th or 5th, and very occasionally we’d win one. But for Al that all changed in 1982, when he hit an absolute ‘purple patch.’
Al had had a pretty good summer, but at the National Track and Field Championships that year, he put in a performance that really surprised me, and I’m sure surprised a lot of other people. He finished 3rd in the National Junior 1500m final in 3:54secs, an outstanding result competing against the top junior athletes from all over NZ. A few weeks later he ran 1:54secs for 800m, another outstanding time for his age.
And as we all know Al later went on to compete outstandingly in triathlons, Ironman, and multisport. So, in all respects, Al was a truly outstanding athlete.
What’s interesting though is that we usually didn’t think of Al like that. We just thought of him as Al. And I think the reason for that is because Al didn’t have an ounce of arrogance in his body. He was incredibly humble, despite his many achievements and successes, both athletically, and also academically, and in his career. Al also spoke fluent German, and had a natural talent for languages. But despite all this, Al always put himself on the same level as other people, and always behaved with great humility, so that many didn’t appreciate just how talented he was. Because of this his achievements, many of which were truly outstanding, were also greatly understated.
AL’S ABILITY TO MIMIC
Al had an amazing ability to mimic, possibly because of his natural talent for linguistics.
One of the things I remember is Al’s amazing impersonations of Frank Spencer, from a TV show back in the 70’s called “Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em.” We’d all be finished our 2 hour Sunday run at Jacks, all absolutely knackered, and you’d hear Al in the background saying something like:
- “Hmmmm, Betty, can I have a cup of tea?”
and you’d swear Frank Spencer was in the kitchen! And someone would then go and make Al a cup of tea, which of course he would be very happy with. So there was definitely method to his madness!
Another thing I remember was a videotape called “The Supermilers”, which was a documentary on all the great milers that screened on TV just before the LA Olympics in 1984. If Al and I watched that tape once, we watched it 100 times. We learnt virtually the whole thing off by heart, but Al’s memory for that sort of thing was much better than mine. One of the parts we particularly liked was a Filbert Bayi commentary, from when Filbert Bayi, the great Tanzanian athlete, broke the world mile record in Kingston, Jamaica in 1975. There was a curious sounding Jamaican gentleman doing the commentary, and Al and I particularly liked his accent. So when we were out driving or running, one of us would start off, and we then used to bat it back and forward:
- “Filbert Bayi, the world’s no. 1 1500m/mile runner”
- “He seem to be going away, he seem to be going away’
- “5 yard, 6 yard, he seem to be going away’
- “Filbert Bayi used to run 20 mile a day to school”
- “5 mile to school in the morning, 5 mile home for lunch, 5 mile back to school, and 5 mile home in the afternoooonnn’
And the most important thing is that you would have to do the “afternoooonnn” in unison. And then we’d break up into peals of laughter, and then get back to whatever we were doing.
THE ONLY TIME I SAW AL STRESSED
Al was a very relaxed guy, and the only time I saw him panicked was when we were playing golf a few years back. We were playing at Huapai with Russ Haswell. We were on the 9th fairway, and Al was playing his second shot. As usual I was looking for my ball.
Suddenly I heard “Oh, shit.” It was Al. I Said “What’s the matter?” He said “I’ve lost my bloody wedding ring.” And he had a look of absolute terror on his face.
We spent the next few minutes on hands and knees looking for Al’s wedding ring on the fairway. I was starting to get really worried, because that type of thing can really destroy a round of golf, not to mention a lot of other things! But after a few minutes of panicked searching, crawling around on the fairway, Al suddenly announced “Oh, it’s OK, I’ve found it – it was in the golf bag! I must have taken it off before the round.” As I recall the golf, that was already pretty bad, got a whole lot worse after that!
I think Al’s reaction to what happened is an illustration of how much he really loved Bettina – that and being absolutely shit scared of what she might have said if he really had lost his ring!
AL’S JOKE TELLING ABILITY AND SENSE OF HUMOUR
Al had an encyclopaedic memory for jokes, and was incredibly good at telling them. I remember trips away for relays, especially to Palmerston North for ‘Round the Ranges’, when Al would keep us entertained the whole way, with a seemingly endless supply of jokes. I would have 1 or 2 jokes to tell, but Al would have 20, and they would all be absolute classics!
I do actually have a favourite joke that Al told me, but I won’t tell it just now. For those of you who do want to hear it though, come and see me later.
For now though, all I have left to say is:
THANKS MATE, IT WAS A PLEASURE, AND, I’LL MISS YOU
There was nothing that special about this gangly awkward 14 year old school boy, Alan Wardle, a kid that had the guts to approach me and ask for help with his running coaching. My first task in coaching Al was to give advice on how to High Jump, and somehow this running coach and Al-Bob figured it out together and he won the event up at Rangitoto College, that was our beginning.
As a coach in the late 1970’s, along with just about everyone who he met, and a few others, I was fascinated by the phenomenon known as Al-Bob.
He was by nature real smiler, fearless, loveable, supporter, loyal to the bone and a maaaaate! That word mate was to become Al’s own word of affection.
My primary goal in preparing this farewell to a true mate was to focus on Al-Bob the runner, triathlete and legend. As I pondered on what to say I re-read the website, talked to his mates, listened to Sherrida and many others. I found it impossible to speak of his life and career without including anecdotes about Al-Bob the real person.
In reading and listening to Al’s team mates, competitors, fans, family and friends, nearly all had a personal memory that for them typified Alan Wardle.
Those memories started for me 3 decades ago, and those that were given to me by you all without prodding, sometimes eagerly, as if the grief could be mitigated by sharing, sometimes in voices choked with emotion, poignantly reminding me that for those close to him, even 3 weeks after his death, and it will be the same in many years form now, …… it was if it was but yesterday ago.
Indeed many of us still speak of Al-Bob in the present tense, saying “Al loves his hats”, or “Al-Bob rides like the wind.” That will go on for ever I feel.
Everyone describes how Al’s life had affected their own, at times told in terms too deeply to share.
But other stories are alive to all of us, for without them, what would emerge is the Alan Wardle of just hard work, training, and living. For Al-Bob really did exist, in many ways a blazing comet, but this was only as one of many personae he possessed. ………. Of his love for his Godson Julian, and nice and nephews (bro) Tessa and Jordan, his passion for racing the hilarity and support for those that trained with him. His sharing a Postie run and connected at the hip with his mate, Hullie. Running down hill on the Rimutakas, a massive mountain range, in the New Zealand Relay Championships, bloodied feet and legs that would not move the next day, and for several days after. His coaching of others in Germany was his way of giving back to the sports that he loved, a coaching career that had only just begun.
The fact of the matter is that each person knew a different Al-Bob, witnessed an enormously complex, life loving individual, for you could never put Al in any one box.
There were, to be sure, certain characteristics that recurred in any conversation or as you were reading on the web about Al with the great words from his friends and competitors around the world.
He was in constant motion, connecting us all up in a way that we all kept in touch with each other through Al-Bob. He was charged with an unbelievable passion for life and energy to blaze an amazing trail through the world. Yet in quiet moments, like Christmas Day last year he was extremely deep, meaningful and caring to talk to. Al would turn up months or years after we had last met, and it was just as if it were yesterday, a huge bear hug, a bigger “MAAAAAATE”. And we just picked up where we left off.
Al would fix you with his ear to ear grin and give you the impression you were most important person in his life at that instant, and that the things he was telling you were known to few others. It was an enormously flattering and appealing trait, and contributed greatly to what became his “charisma” Etched in my heart forever.
At the same time he was a nomad, always on the move, a bit of him in New Zealand and the bigger chunk of him with his heart, with Bettina in Germany.
His pace was frenetic, his outlook taken up with the now of life, that his deep friendship trails are spread far and wide. Just look who has come to say goodbye today, and who have said their farewells over these past weeks, a globally loved Al-Bob.
“I knew him well,” is a common refrain heard from those who loved him well. There was this scrawny kid, legs all over the place racing up to the golf course with Tippy bounding along beside. Those two were always into mischief or trouble, inseperable. Like Al happily running down the hill on Pupuke Golf Course, one minute bounding along with his giant strides the next “WACK” and Al-Bob is laying flat on his back in the mud, felled by a golf ball, hit right in the middle of his forehead, and Tippy liking this huge bloodied golf ball sized lump. He bounced up, abused the shocked golfer, up and running he finished his run and then went home for sympathy and 7 stitches in the wound! We laughed at that for years and the golfers were never friendly again!
This big giant of a man, giving you a bear hug farewell as he headed back to his beloved Bettina, after yet another flying visit to us, be it Hong Kong, the USA or his Kiwiland. Or this loyal guy phoning me, seeking coaching some 17 years after we last developed a coaching plan, his greatest tribute to me. And he went on to achieve…again. Triathlon was his passion, if it had of been a sport in the 80’s Al would have been a world class triathlete, I am sure
We have seen an Al-Bob capable of tears, and self-doubt, of euphoria, free spirit, and thoughtfulness….love. Our hearts go out to Bettina, we can only guess at the pain she is going through, but hope all the love we express for Al will ease that pain in time.
Generous to a T, Al offered to help move house for us when he was 15. He arrive with several of the Jacks Pack of runners, immediately came down with a migraine, slept all day and awoke as we unloaded the last of the boxes and the pizza arrived, saying, “I feel better now, anything I can do?”
I saw a kid from Murrays Bay, fast maturing into an articulate adult, willing to take on helping his mates in any way he could.
A few of us have some confessions today and none more so than Al’s little shadow in the old days, Robbie Knight. For Bowden’s Road was a conquest in those hectic days of Sunday runs, it was a special club that required 23 miles of hard running to earn membership to. Rob was just 16 and the loder guys like Al teased him into doing the big run and join the club. But I showed Rob a short cut and we almost caught Al and the Pack on our way back along the Albany straight. You should have seen to look of shock and horror as we approached them. It wasn’t until about 3 years ago that I finally ‘fessed up on Rob’s behalf. Al’s response was legendary! “Maaaaaate, he is not tough, not in the Bowden’s club.” The only fear now is do I at 58 years of age have to drag Rob around Bowden’s Road as a tribute??
And there is, for the lack of a better term, the mystical element surrounding Al-Bob. It is astonishing the number of coincidences that relate back to Al’s running hero Steve Prefontaine, a USA running legend who also died young.
Guess what date Pre died? This very day the 29th May, in 1975! Pre was a kid from a working class family, lived the outdoors and for winning. Pre lived with his parents and sister in a snug house on ….ELROB Street, Coos Bay, Oregon.
The mystique of Alan returning to say farewell to his Dad, being mates and loving his family one last time, then heading off on his own last lap shortly after.
I have treasured these brief words that Al and I shared over the years, and today, see if you can see who the words fit?
“I would rather be ashes than dust!
I would rather that spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it be stilled by dry rot.
I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent loving glow, than a sleepy planet.
The proper function of man is to live, and love, not to exist.
I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them.
I shall use my time…………yes you did Al-Bob
Then on a warm spring evening in early May, in a matter of minutes, his voice was silenced for ever…….Farewell, Al-Bob, gone but always in my heart, run free Maaaaaate.
In loving memory or Alan Robert Wardle
From Jack Ralston, coach, friend and Maaaaate.