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From Skis to Running Shoes

Mark Croasdale was a former member of the British Royal Navy/Royal Marines Running Team which competed against the U.S. Marine Corps annually at the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC. The competition started in the second year of the marathon in 1978. He competed in the 1990s when he was a corporal.

Croasdale is the only runner who has held the top three positions. In 1996 he took third (2:25:24), in 1998 he was second (2:31:33) and in 1999 he was first (2:23:27).

Croasdale’s sporting career started on the slopes where he represented Great Britain at the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France. In the 1-kilometer cross-country, he placed 90th (36:13). In the cross-country combined 10K/15K pursuit, he placed 74th (52:36).

Croasdale was the 1999 winner of the 24th Marine Corps Marathon (2:23:27). In October 2023, he was honored with induction into the Marine Corps Marathon Hall of Fame at the 48th Marine Corps Marathon.

 

Croasdale made the following comments in 1999,

“Winning was my thought. I was willing to go 2:17 – 2:18 pace. I was not going to make a move until after Hains Point. You need consistency and not have ups and downs. Then you look for the extra edge to improve.”

Croasdale continued,

“I was surprised Mark Coogan (second place, 2:24:18) was able to close on me each time. I was not slow, I was maintaining. At mile 20, they were closing down on me again. They would have to work hard to catch me. I knew that to win it I would have to put in a good stead. AT mile 25 I knew he could not catch me.”

The term motivation has a variety of meanings, such as the pleasure or reward an athlete receives when completing a task, goal, or event. Most athletes experience this feeling of pleasure when they complete a task, goal, or event, or when they receive a reward.

Croasdale is an exceptional athlete and has had an outstanding career. Through a series of questions, you will get to know the motivation and that inner drive to succeed.

 

What was the attraction to joining the British Royal Navy?

 

When I was leaving school, I wanted to join the Royal Air Force, but came across the information about the Royal Marines and it just looked and sounded more exciting, challenging and more of an adventure.

 

How did you change from skiing to running?

 

The transition was quite easy as I did a lot of running before I joined the Marines and at school, plus during training, you do plenty of running. As part of our summer training for cross country skiing/biathlon, we did a lot of off-road running and hill running. So, I was already doing plenty of running. I just needed to build on what I already had.

 

Which sport was more demanding, or were they about the same?

 

Cross-country skiing and biathlon were more demanding. You needed to put in more hours’ training for a similar benefit. You also had to learn the different techniques, which made things hard work, especially when your technique was not good. With biathlon, there was also the added difficulty of shooting and controlling your breathing and easing down into the shooting range.

 

How did you manage your schedule with your military duties?

 

When I was skiing, I was lucky and was a full-time athlete, but as a runner I had to manage my time better. I tried to plan what I wanted to do regarding races. Training was about having a good routine, but at times I just had to accept I would have to have a break.

In Iraq in 2003, I ran on a treadmill for a few months when I was on ship, but on the ground for 3-4 months I did not run at all.

 

Did you notice any difference in running events in England versus the United States?

 

No, a race is a race, so my build up would be the same for a marathon in the UK as it was for the MCM, but obviously there are smaller details to think about, like travel and time differences.

 

What is your philosophy for the sport of running?

 

If you have prepared to work hard, you have every chance of achieving your goals, but whatever you do, you have got to enjoy the journey.

What were some challenges you faced?

 

Probably my biggest challenge was injury related to my skiing days. I had dislocated my shoulder, and it kept happening; it became very loose, and I had between 15-20 dislocations before it was finally operated on. During that time, I was trying to qualify for the Winter Olympics in France in 1992. I had the option of having the operation before the games, but if I did, I would not recover in time.

So, I decided to live with it, do my exercises for my shoulder and strap it up for races. This worked, and I went to the 1992 Olympics in Albertville, France. I had a few dislocations along the way but made the start line!!! On one occasion when I was representing the Royal Marines at the British Ski Championships; I fell on the first leg of the biathlon relay and dislocated my shoulder. I got up, put my shoulder back in the joint and carried on. I did not shoot very well, but I finished my leg.

 

How did you manage it when your results did not match the training you put it?

 

On many occasions, my results did not match my training. When that happened, I had tried to understand why? I always kept a training diary and would look to change things if I thought that would help. I was not one for just doing more training, as that is not always the answer.

Sometimes the result was out of your hands. If you were ill at some stage, you just had to recover and start the build up again. Try to be patient and try not to get too frustrated. I always believed that if I were doing the right things, ultimately the results would come, if not every time.

 

At what point did you know it was time to relax on the competitive racing?

 

When I was 39 years old, I ran 2 hrs 23 mins at the London Marathon and had thoughts of running well in the veterans/masters, but my kids were growing up and as a family we were very busy. They had also asked me about becoming the England Mountain Running Team Manager. I was also the Royal Marines Running Team Manager, so it was a natural progression to ease away from my own competitive running.

When I turned 40 years old, I did a few races, but my last competitive race was when I was 45 years old. Nowadays, I am more than happy being involved with running but as a manager/coach.

 

What were some things which you learned about yourself from being in the sport?

 

I am a determined person and if I want to achieve something; I am prepared to commit to doing the work, even when things get tough. I get frustrated, annoyed, and angry when things do not go according to plan, but sport has taught me to deal with these emotions.

I am quite calm under pressure and do not get too stressed when things are not working out.

When I am away with the England and Great Britain Mountain Running Teams, I like to be as organized as possible and on race days when the team is feeling the pressure; I make sure I am calm and deal with any issues so the athletes can just concentrate on their races.

 

How was the competition against the U.S. Marines?

 

The competition against the USMC was always a good rivalry. On race day, everyone was determined to do their best, but after the race, the best of friends. During my competitive years, the teams I was part of usually had the edge and I was on the winning team often. I made some good friends through competing in the MCM, and it was great to see some of those at the 2023 MCM, when I had the honour of being inducted into the Hall of Fame.

 

Did you ever experience moments during competition when you doubted your abilities?

 

Yes, most definitely, I do not believe I was the most gifted runner or skier, as I have already said I had to work very hard to achieve what I have, but by working hard it put me amongst the more gifted and naturally talented athletes. This made me doubt my abilities, but I was always there on merit and tried to concentrate on my race and how I could do my best and that is all I could do.

 

There you have it, Mark Croasdale.

 

The intent is not to have you to become like Croasdale but for “you to be you.”

What is your definition of motivations?

What is it going to take for you to set your wheels into motion.

The new year is upon us, and it will be your year. You may have a high school reunion coming up in 2024 and if you attend, you know you will hear, “Look at you and you have …….” You get to finish the sentence.

You get to make a difference if you desire. You can take the step of influencing others around you.

Let 2024 be the year you take control.

 

 

*For more from George Banker, visit his M:M Expert Author Homepage.

 

 

Author

  • George Banker

    George Banker was the Operations Manager for the Army Ten-Miler (US Army / MDW), one of the largest 10-mile road race in the United States. From 2003 through 2023, his responsibilities included the operational planning, logistics, community outreach, design of the course, volunteer recruitment, and support to medical and police jurisdictions. Prior to joining the Army Ten-Miler, he worked 25 years at IBM serving in administration and management within the federal marketing environment in Bethesda, Maryland. He is retired from the U.S. Air Force (enlisted grade Technical Sergeant), where his experience included ground refueling supervisor and cryogenic fluids production supervisor. He received 14 military decorations including the Air Force Commendation Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm, and Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal (1969-1989). Since 1983, he has worked as a freelance photographer and journalist, contributor for the Runner’s Gazette, and He is the author of “The Marine Corps Marathon: A Running Tradition”. He is an avid runner, with 136 marathons completed.

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