Like many in the running world, we at Lonely Goat Running Club were sad to hear of the passing of Dr Ron Hill MBE on 23 May, aged 82. He was a true legend whose feats inspired countless runners, and who helped lead technical innovation in running kit that we all benefit from today.
An athletics great
Ron Hill was at the height of his athletics powers in the 1960s and 70s. He held world records over 10 miles, 15km and 25km, and was the second person to break 2:10′ for a marathon.
At the 1964 Olympics he ran in both the 10,000m and marathon – a rarely attempted feat. He was seventh in the 10,000m at the 1968 Olympics (running barefoot), and sixth in the marathon at the 1972 Games.
He was the European marathon champion in 1969, and the Commonwealth marathon champion in 1970. It was at the latter event, held in Edinburgh, that he ran his marathon best of 2:09’28 – a time that still places him twelfth on the British all-time list – despite going through 10km at 2:04′ pace.
Away from Championship races, he won the Boston Marathon in 1970 (taking three minutes off the course record) and was twice winner of the prestigious Enschede Marathon in the Netherlands – contributing to his lifetime total of 115 marathons and 21 victories.
A textiles pioneer
Ron Hill was awarded a PhD in textile chemistry from the University of Manchester, certain of the benefits of synthetic textiles for runners. He set up the Ronhill clothing brand that helped popularise mesh vests, waterproof jackets and the use of reflective materials.
These innovations continue to keep runners safe and comfortable.
Long before ‘RED January’ and the idea of running streaks became popular, Ron Hill maintained a 52 year streak of running for at least a mile, every day. This included running after a car crash and bunion surgery. He finally ended his record-breaking streak in his late-70s.
An inspiration to Lonely Goats everywhere
His athletics achievements helped inspire the 1970s running boom, and his clothing innovations are still in use today. So even if this article is the first you’d heard of the incredible Dr Ron Hill MBE, you have almost certainly followed in his footsteps.
Dr Ron Hill MBE was a one-of-a-kind running legend and will be missed.
Image credit: By Verhoeff, Bert / Anefo –  Dutch National Archives, The Hague, Fotocollectie Algemeen Nederlands Persbureau (ANeFo), 1945-1989, Nummer toegang 2.24.01.05 Bestanddeelnummer 928-1299, CC BY-SA 3.0 nl