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Ron keeps on running

RON Hill has pounded the streets every day since 1964 - but next Thursday will be a special day for the Accrington runner.

BIRTHDAY RACE ... For running legend Ron Hill, who has competed in 115 marathons
BIRTHDAY RACE ... For running legend Ron Hill, who has competed in 115 marathons

RON Hill has pounded the streets every day since 1964 - but next Thursday will be a special day for the Accrington runner.

The Clayton Harrier will celebrate hitting 65 the only way he knows how - with a birthday race next Thursday.

It is a 5k road race starting at 6.45pm from the Falcon Inn in Littleborough - and he wants as many people as possible to join him.

In his day, Accrington-born Ron could have challenged for the men's course record of 14 mins 20 seconds, although he will leave it to the top athletes of today to have a crack at that.

"I am looking forward to it but there will be no records for me," said the marathon runner who took part in three Olympics and has a Commonwealth Games gold medal.

"I have run every single day since 1964 and at the moment I am putting my training log on the Internet on and it is amazing. A lot of the entries from 1967 read "shattered", "very tired", but I have kept going.

"In 1993, I broke my sternum in a head-on car crash but I had run that morning and, as I was released from hospital the next day, I was able to run a mile at night even though it was agony. I have never missed a day."

While looking forward to receiving his bus pass, his passport will be in use first. He is aiming to race in 100 different countries by the time he is 70 - he had done 50 countries by the time he was 50.

He said: "I am running in Romania in a half-marathon in October - that will be 82 - and I am taking part in a 10k in Beirut, Lebanon, in the same month."

It is a different era to Ron's now, where the elite athletes are full-time runners and have the benefit of diet and training advice.

"I think I have only had one massage in my life!" admitted Ron, who went to Spring Hill Primary School and Accrington Grammar. He then moved to Manchester and ran between work and home - Romiley to Droysden - after doing a PHD in textile chemistry and going into research.

"I used to drive to work on Monday and then run the seven miles there and back until Friday when I drove home. I used to add bits and pieces if I needed to increase my mileage. I was home at 6 with my wife and family and my run finished so I didn't get too much pressure at home!

"I more or less had to give up work as they wanted me to use my holidays to run for Great Britain!"

After bringing out the Ron Hill brand of sports clothing, he is still involved in a consultancy capacity with fabrics and now lives in Hyde. And he looks back on his career with a great sense of achievement.

"The highlights have been running 2 hrs 9 mins and 48 seconds in Edinburgh in 1970 to win the Commonwealth Games gold medal and breaking the Boston marathon course record when I ran 2 hrs 10. I also enjoyed winning the European championships in 1969 as it was from Marathon to Athens, the orginal marathon.

The tar was melting and it was hilly and I didn't get to the front until there was 1km to go so it was dramatic. No-one expected me to win it."

He was, though, favourite to win an Olympic gold in Munich in 1972.

"I did altitude training and went on a special diet but did it all too severely - you just didn't know in those days. I ended up finishing sixth. It back-fired but I know I did my best."

Race organiser Andy O'Sullivan is hoping former Hyndburn AC runner Kerry Gillibrand, from Baxenden, will have a go at breaking the women's course record of 16 mins 40 seconds at Ron's race.

To enter, contact Andy O'Sullivan BEM, 40 Cronshaw Drive, Lower Healey, Rochdale OL12 0SR or call 01706 750620.

Cost is £3 for club runners and £4 for non- club runners with an extra pound on the night.

Money raised will go to the Pendleside Hospice and Derian House Children's Hospice.


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