In the Spotlight: Claire Capon

Claire Capon is a longstanding member of Dartford Harriers, she competes as an athlete, coaches other athletes and also serves as Club Secretary on the Executive Committee. Despite a busy schedule, we managed to speak to her to learn more about her involvement with the club.

Thank you for letting us interview you today. Belated congratulations on your appointment as Kent County Athletics Association President a year ago! Your predecessor Graham Holder was president since 2015 – have they been big shoes to fill? 

I would definitely say Graham has bigger feet than I do but, in all seriousness, he was definitely going to be a tough act to follow. Being part of the KCAA executive committee, we all felt that we should alternate between male and female county presidents however when the nomination from Mick Paul came my way, I was extremely surprised. Graham had been a visible and approachable figurehead for the county and I hope that I am following in the same fashion.

You have always been keenly involved in various committee and officer roles at Dartford Harriers AC – what prompted you to take on the Club Secretary role again? 

I only performed the role of Secretary for a year in 2009 before I switched to the chairman for a further 6, I must admit that I believe my skill set suits the role of secretary better. Following the 2 year break I only had 2 reasons for taking on the commitment again;

  • I became aware that no one had stepped forward when the request went out for 2 committee positions
  • I wanted to take some pressure of my dad who was newly elected as president.

Having worked behind the scenes previously I know the club requires decision makers and administrative duties completed in order to function efficiently so in short, I came back to benefit the club I love.

Has it been a struggle to combine your KCAA and DHAC roles? How do you manage to juggle the two? 

Other than a large glass of gin, it’s just a case of prioritising, writing lists and keeping an up to date diary! The KCAA president duties are not too time-consuming as you perform the niceties such as presenting medals and trophies. However I will find myself a lot busier during the second half of the year as September is a busy month for championships and I will also have to organise and host the president’s dinner including the annual presentations.

What is the most challenging part of the club secretary role? 

With a membership of 400+ it is quite often impossible to make everyone happy with decisions the executive committee make. I feel we should include the membership in our decision making however I get frustrated when I’ve asked questions or for advice and feedback and a very large proportion do not contribute or communicate. I always have Dartford Harriers AC and its’ members at the heart of everything I do but sometimes a little bit more input is required to know you’re making the right calls.

Is there anything the club’s membership can do to make the job easier for you? 

Communicate! Tell the committee your problems, solutions and ideas to make our club the best it can be. 

Your dad has served two years as club President. Was it a proud moment for you when he took us the role? 

I’m always proud of him, he puts his heart and soul into the grass roots of our sport 12 months of the year. He was tentative about taking on the presidency but I truly believe there is no greater ambassador for the club than my dad.

As well as coaching some of the Harriers’ up-and-coming youngsters, you train and compete yourself. What have been the highlights of your own athletics career thus far? 

My first coach was a man named Arthur Head and on Thursday, his son gave the club a lot of old records and photographs causing lots of reminiscing. Within this bundle of nostalgia, I found a DHAC Club Championships programme from 1996 with my name in, this was my first year as Harrier and I feel old that I now coach Dashers who weren’t even born then. I have many highlights from over the years but I can narrow it down to top 4:

  • Winning my first Kent county medal in 1998 as an under 15 in the 4×200 relay team.
  • Running the most competitive and exhilarating race I’ve ever run during the 2004 Kent Champs over the 400m hurdles.
  • In 2012 finally throwing over 40 metres in the hammer for the DHAC club record.
  • Winning 10 county heptathlon titles. I’m proud of my successes but they were only possible and memorable because of the people I share them with. They all know who they are and I’m forever grateful for their friendship, love and support.

If an athlete from overseas or elsewhere in the country relocated to the Dartford area, and was looking to join an athletics club, how would you describe the club to him/her?

That we have the best team spirit and camaraderie in the county and regardless of what year or decade we’re in, Dartford have always been the loudest club at the comp! It’s not always about being the most elite and in the highest division, we all support each other no matter what and being a HOOP is about enjoying your running, jumping and throwing!

If there was one thing you could change about the club you love, what would it be? 

More volunteers to take the lead in coaching in order to expand the club and help our athletes grow.

In any order, tell us three things about yourself, two of them true, one of them untrue.

  • I met Colin Jackson in Gravesend
  • I have a recurring dream where I run the 400m and the track turns into an icy lake, which I fall through. 
  • I appeared on a television programme called ‘athletes do the funniest things’

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