The whole story reminded me of ‘The Tough of the Track’, a weekly strip that ran in the Victor comic. Its central character, was a middle distance and cross country runner called Alf Tupper. A tough as nails welder by trade, his victories usually owed more to tenacity and a refusal to quit than any kind of cutting edge training regime or enlightened nutritional programme.
As a low tech, one dimensional hero Tupper seemed ideally suited to the gritty black and white post war Britain he inhabited and with his staple diet of fish and chips, his chirpy demeanour and work hard, play hard ethic he seemed enviably content with his lot in life.
His adventures were never dull though, his willingness to use his fists when occasion demanded made up for a lack of guns and explosions while his highly developed sense of right and wrong, combined with his intense dislike of bullies and cheats, gave the stories an almost Dickensian feel.
The centre piece however, was always his gutsy races, often while carrying an injury or exhausted after a long shift.
Alf Tupper made his last appearance in 1992 and it’s a testament to his tenacity and stamina that he lasted as long as he did because its hard to see a place for him in Britain today. Somehow I just can’t picture him chasing looters out of HMV during the London riots, capturing images of fare dodgers on his mobile phone or downloading tracks from Spotify to listen to on his training runs.