A popular and well-known local amateur sportsman wants to pass on his experience to help the next generation find ‘the Extra Yard’ - with help from the PFC Trust.
Keith Hutchinson was a talented non-league and local footballer in his younger days before hitting the track and becoming one of the fastest runners aged over-35 in Europe.
That transition has led to him realising he can help others to improve their performance and, with the help of the PFC Trust and Hartlepool Sport, he is doing just that.
Having previously set up the Hartlepool Striders Running Club at the Dodgeball Centre to encourage more people of all ages to get out of the house, he has now launched something different.
The Extra Yard is about making athletes quicker over shorter distances, having realised just how beneficial such training would have been for him in his young days had he had such guidance.
Keith, 43, said: “After my football career I moved into athletics. It was then when coach Rick Betts worked with me through Middlesbrough - he had his training camp with top athletes including Team GB sprinter Richard Kilty.
“I wanted to sharpen up when I was running the last 200 of the 800m because I was dying a death. When I hit 38 I was faster than ever. I wish I had done that when I was younger because it might have made the difference to reach even higher.”
It is from there when Keith decided to work on his own training programmes, so he has started rolling something out to individuals and teams who want it. FC Hartlepool, Thornaby Ladies and Pools Youth are among those to have used him so far.
Through the PFC Trust, Keith is a fully qualified speed coach. The Hartlepool-based charity, whose logo is on his vest when he competes, have funded the courses that have enabled him to coach. They have also helped with travel expenses when he competes for GB.
He said: “The original idea was to set up a running club, the couch to 5k with Paul Hewitson, and that has developed into this sprint work with the Extra Yard. Hartlepool Sport (the sports arm of local charity the PFC Trust) have been brilliant.”
Keith is a former Dyke House pupil who played in the Northern League for 20 years for teams such as Durham City, West Auckland and Whitley Bay, among others. He was well known for his speed while playing Sunday League for Hartlepool Rovers and Throston Wanderers too.
After losing his dad, Keith, to leukaemia in 2010 he decided to do the Great North Run for charity and that proved the start of his running journey.
He said: “I joined Burn Road Harriers and I was beating everyone over shorter distances. I was told to go to the track, I was 35-year-old. For two years I was undefeated against people aged 17 and over. I couldn’t believe how good I was.
“That was when I was introduced to the Masters and ran for Great Britain. I’ve been to Madrid, Poland, Braga, competed in the European Championships and in March it is the World Masters Championship. It’s been a great experience and coming sixth in Europe in the 800m is my biggest achievement. Now I just want to give something back.”
*Anyone interested in working with the Extra Yard or Hartlepool Striders should contact Keithhutch31@hotmail.co.uk
The Extra Yard Facebook page or
Call 07525 441165.