BBC’s repeat of the first 1981 London Marathon gave local city runners a chance to see the best effort by a city runner in that race. Rob Cytlau, still competing in the 65-69 age group for Severn AC was living in Birmingham running for Tipton Harriers, the UK’s top distance running club. He was in the leading group until half way. The BBC cut the coverage where he led with club mate Brian Cole around 7 miles.” At half way the pace was increased, I dropped away to finish 11th in 2:16:40. I was selected for international marathons in Spain & Hungary. I never liked the heat and was rubbish with both times just inside 2 hour 40 minutes, it almost finished me off”.
His illustrious running career is replete with honours, representative vests and titles at track, road and cross country. His PB’s: 1500M-3:49.0, 3000M- 8:06.0, 5000M-13:58.6, 10000M-29:44.2, 10 Mile Road-48:23, Half Marathon-1:05:30, Marathon-2:16:40, 3000M Steeplechase-8:57.0 & 2000M Steeplechase-5:42.0.
Spotted running for St Peters in the local schools cross-country league in the mid sixties, he became a valuable support member of the Gloucester AC under 17 team ranked 7th nationally in 1969 in cross-country. Team mates Steve McHale, John Pope and Jeremy Smith overshadowing him.
In the Under 20’s and senior ranks his relentless high quality distance training (70-100 miles weekly) paid dividends. An extract from his 1974 training diary reads:
Monday (am) 5 miles (pm) 11 miles with Mike Hill. Tuesday (pm) 1st 3000M in 8:12 on Cheltenham grass track. Wednesday (am) 12×440 yards (4 steeplechase barriers per lap). (pm) 11 miles with Steve McHale and Norman Thomas. Thursday (am) 5 miles (pm) 9 miles with Steve & Norman. Friday 5 miles. Saturday 4th in Coventry 10 mile in 50:10. Sunday 1st in British Isles Cup 10000M (track) in 30:22.” We often raced twice and sometimes three times a week”.
He won four cross-country titles.”Norman Wilson beat me once”. Amongst a plethora of nationally ranked performances, two local ones stand out. In 1973 he won the Gloucester-Cheltenham-Gloucester 18 Mile in 1:28:54 after a battle with Steve McHale.” We reached half way in 45 mins, then a strong North East gale sprang up and blew us home, I dropped Steve at 12 miles”. In 1974 he won the Gloucester Carnival ‘7’ in 32:10, the second fastest ever behind Bristol ‘s running legend Olympian Nick Rose who ran 31:58 the year before.
In 1975 he concentrated on 3000M steeplechase. He ran a 8:57 PB, won silver in the Midland Championships. Invitations came in for the top international races at Crystal Palace. Cytlau was selected for the Amateur Athletic Association team to compete against Loughborough College and others in the nations top representative match. The Green, Orange & Navy Blue hooped and AAA badged vest is athletics equivalent of rugby’s Barbarians jersey. Bannister wore it in the first four minute mile. “I felt I had arrived”. He led the 3000M steeplechase on course for a PB, then at the penultimate water jump, disaster. His left Achilles tendon snapped in mid air. Surgery followed. The determined Cytlau recuperated for six weeks, then ignoring pleas of friends started hobbling again. He worked back steadily to the top, initially trailing around at the tail of races. In 1976 he was a member of the Gloucester AC team which won the ‘7’ Mile Cross-Country Championships and the National Minor Clubs Cross-Country Championships.
Work then took him to Birmingham and Tipton Harriers. Here he won medals and championships galore including team golds in the National Championships at cross-country, 12 Stage Road Relays & 6 Stage Road Relays “Mind you” remembers Cytlau” the quality of my team mates meant I was fifth or sixth best”.
In 1987 he returned to Gloucester, prominent in the Gloucester AC then Severn AC teams which dominated county distance running in the late 80’s and through the 90’s.
At a meeting organised by Severn chair Albert Gardiner Rob volunteered to advise with coaching in 2003.
His demanding distance schedules have been the basis of Severn’s distance success’s. The ladies team under Gwen Kinsey was in the nations top ten in 2005-2009. Josh Lilly (5000M & 10000M), Tim Dalton (1500M) won several Midland track titles as well as excelling at cross-country. Dalton became the only athlete to have won the Midland track 1500M and Midland 7 Mile cross-country titles. Teenager Kyran Hale was an outstanding age group distance runner winning the National Under 17 cross-country series. Most recently Cytlau ahs guided Alex Rawlings into National class.
Long time friend Terry Haines says” Rob’s sessions dispense with social chit chat, you train hard then go home”.
Steve McHale, Cytlau’s friend, school mate and long time rival tells of an early event, “Rob was working in Cheltenham, we had do a photo call after work. When we changed into our kit Rob’s legs were covered in mud from his lunchtime 5 miles over Cleeve Hill”. RUNNING was always first.
Severn Athletic Club Virtual Team Distance Challenge
Severn Athletic Club continued the virtual racing challenge with another team event. Consisting of teams of 4, each running for same total time with each team member running for a different set time. Each team being selected to make it an even challenge.
Team A won the challenge having been the one with the longest distance covered with all teams finishing only 1.23 miles apart
Team A: 40 mins John W 6.3 miles, 45 mins Adrian E 6.57 miles, 50 mins Tracey B 7.08 & 55mins Andy Bright 8.71miles. 28.61 miles.
Team B: 40 mins George S 4.88 miles, 45 mins Alex J 6.33 miles, 50 mins Pete S 8.22 miles & 55 mins Imran H 8.32miles. 27.75 miles.
Team C: 40 mins Darren R 5.27 miles, 45 mins Matt A 6.64 miles, 50 mins Seb C 8.27 miles & 55 mins Huw G 7.2 miles. 27.38 miles.
Team D: 40 mins Greg L 4.61 miles, 45 mins Katie D 6.53 miles, 50 mins Chris B 8.48 miles & 55 mins Dave C 8.35 miles. 27.97 miles.
Team E: 40 mins Steve S 5.08 miles, 45 mins Pratik P 6.39 miles, 50 mins James Rb8.25 miles & 55 mins Dave H 8.24 miles. 27.97 miles.