Mike Rowland (Newport Harrier) was one of Wales’s most successful endurance coaches in a career that spanned the 1980’s and 1990’s. He was Welsh Staff Coach for Endurance events during Malcolm Arnold’s time as Welsh National Coach. He was also Great Britain Team Manager in the 1990’s for International Marathon events in New Delhi, Beijing, Taipai and Holland as well as British Road Relay Coach in Berlin.
As a school boy Mike’s interest in running was sparked by stories of the running exploits of Welsh legend Griffidd Morgan better known as Guto Nythbran who was born in Hollybush in 1700 (see History of Welsh Athletics Chapter 5). It was watching the 1958 Empire Games in Cardiff that inspired Mike along the path of a lifetime in Athletics. He witnessed first hand the global living legends that were Herb Elliott, Murray Halberg and Gordon Pirie. It was in fact Pirie, G.B’s World record holder for 5,000m and 3,000m and a fanatically hard trainer, who was to Coach Mike through his early years giving him insight and inspiration from his experience of the world of endurance running.
Mike became Welsh 10,000m Champion and Welsh Marathon record holder and represented Wales at the 1970 and 1978 Commonwealth Games. He is also still the Welsh record holder for the 1 hour track-run. Like all athletes in those days, Mike’s love of running had to fit in around the world of full-time work. He lived in Montreal, Canada from 1966 to 1968 working as a draughtsman and later studied in Stockholm, Sweden, for 3 yeas having secured a British Arts Council Scholarship to enhance his creative skills in print-making and sculpture. At this time, Sweden was a hotbed of global excellence in endurance events.
Slowly but inevitably as Mike’s career as an athlete was coming to an end , his experience, enthusiasm, knowledge and personality led him into the world of coaching. Initially this was just giving training help to other athletes in Stockholm, but on returning to the U.K Mike was asked to guide a talented, hardworking and enthusiastic group at his home club, Newport Harriers.
“From then I was hooked and coached through the halcyon Harrier days of the 1980’s. It was a journey that we shared-it was a journey that all coaches and athletes travel. A journey of all the highs and lows, but most of all through day to day good, honest, hard work. Welsh born Harry Wilson (who was Steve Ovett’s coach) was a wonderful coach to learn from, as was Malcolm Arnold.”
During his coaching career Mike coached, helped, supported and advised many successful athletes who competed at global level and their names read as a veritable “Who’s Who “of Welsh endurance successes.
Written by Gwyn Williams
Here are some of the achievements of some of the athletes:
Neil Horsfield [Middle Distance]
P.B. 1500m 3.35.08
P.B. Mile 3.54.39
European Junior Championships 1500m Silver
World Student Games 1986 1500m
G.B. Team for the European Championships in Split 1990
Commonwealth Games 1986 & 1990
Winner of the famous Emsley Carr Mile
Welsh 800m record holder 1.45.44 in 1990
A.A.A. 1500m Champion 1990
Welsh 1,000m record holder
Steve joined Mike in 1986 having set a new world Marathon record in 1984. He was placed 4th in the Marathon at the Commonwealth Games in New Zealand in 1990 and later competed in the world Championships Marathon in Stuttgart. Mike Rowland continued to be Steve’s coach until the end of his international career. Steve now lives in Boulder, Colorado where he has his own group of successful athletes.
Steve Brace (advised by Mike)
Winner of the Paris Marathon in 1989 and 1990
Represented Wales at the 1990 and 1998 Commonwealth Games
Steve would go on to compete for G.B. at the Olympic Games in 1992 and 1996 and in the European Championships in 1994. Amongst his achievements was winning the Berlin Marathon. Steve, at present, works for Welsh Athletics as Head of Athletics Development.
Represented G.B. in the Marathon at the 1997 World Championships in Athens
Winner of the Reykjavik Marathon in Iceland in 2.38.47 with a P.B.
Welsh 10mile Road championships Winner in 1996
Welsh 5,000m Champion in 1996&1997
Andy Jones (advised by Mike)
British Junior Half-Marathon Record Holder
G.B. Marathon at the `1997 World Championships in Athens
Welsh Commonwealth Games 1994 Marathon 4th
Wales Commonwealth Games 1998 (10,000m)
G.B Cross Country Team in European Championships (season 1997/98)
Welsh Cross Country Champion 1997 & 1999
Carol Hayward (advised by Mike)
G.B.Team World Junior Cross Country Championships, New Zealand