By Beth Volpert Johansen
British import to the United States since 1971 and Snellville resident, Winston Laing has been running for as long as he can remember. First, in school, then in the Royal Air Force, and then again competing as an adult in the international arena. It was during inter squadron competition in the RAF that Winston found his strength in running long distance and he is still winning international competitions today.
As a member of the Atlanta Track Club, Winston is involved in both training and competition. “I like that running keeps me healthy and fit,” says Winston. “The physical benefits of running cannot be overstated.” Atlanta Track Club Executive Director Rich Kenah explains how the club aims to be a resource for runners of all ages and abilities. “The Atlanta Track Club Elite team helps our top athletes realize their goals through group training and allows them the opportunity to represent us at local, regional and national races, says Kenah. “Winston Laing has been a long-standing member of Atlanta Track Club and our competitive team.”
In addition to running daily, Winston goes to the gym where he does spin class 3-4 times a week and weight trains with a personal trainer. “It used to be an apple a day kept the doctor away,” says Winston. “But it is really a couple of miles a week that keeps you healthy.”
During the “running season” (April to August), Winston can be found coaching youth to prepare them for competition. “I try to keep up with them which is good training for me,” says Winston. “It seems natural to me to want to see them succeed as athletes-when I see one of ‘my kids’ at the track meet win, it is jump up and down time!” Winston’s enthusiasm ran high this summer while the team was in Jacksonville for the Junior Olympic Track and Field youth championships. “It was very competitive, but our 16-18 Girls won the 4x4 and 4x1 at Junior Olympics,” says Winston. “There were also many individual successes.”
Just one week prior to the youth championships in Jacksonville, Winston ran on the same track as his young team while competing in the 2015 US Track and Field Outdoor Masters Championships. Winston won the 400M event in his age group. His training and competition was in preparation for his next big race which was to take place in Léon, France in August. “I won the 800M again in Léon in the World Masters Championships,” says Winston. “That made me a repeat champion with my win in the 800M in Brazil in 2013.” Winston will defend his championship in the 2016 event to be held in Australia.
Keeping fit in the meantime includes his daily running routine through Snellville and workouts in the gym. Eating right is a daily part of Winston’s routine. “I literally eat nothing from a can or store-baked goods,” says Winston. “No meat or chicken, just fish-no artificial anything.” His diet is a lifestyle choice that is sometimes hard to maintain with travel, but he always manages to find something that suits his dietary needs.
In addition to a healthy diet, Winston likes to keep busy. He runs 5K races as much as possible and maintains his mind with plenty of challenges….Like building a house. Although his family originally came to the US in order to offer their children a variety of opportunities, Winston is a product of the UK schools. “Perhaps I am wrong, but the way we learned in the UK gave people this degree of dexterity that showed them they can do this, that, and the other thing,” says Winston. “I was trained in automotive electrical engineering, but I have many skills-building the house was just another day at the office.” His home is uniquely designed and sits on 5 acres of peaceful property in Snellville with high ceilings and plenty of windows that highlight the trophies carefully placed upon the fireplace mantle.
The trophies are reminders of his hard work in track and field events over the years. They also remind Winston of the versatility of being in good health at 73. “I don’t regard myself as really retired, but I don’t work a full schedule anymore,” says Winston. He can still be heard on the phone speaking fluent German while consulting on international business and then slide immediately back into English with a slight southern twang upon returning his attention stateside. He looks forward to each day and what it will bring in terms of testing his abilities. The next race is always on his mind.