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Dr ‘Ron’ Hill MBE is a man who helped push the boundaries in marathon running. Not only was he the second man to break 2:10 in the marathon, but he also set world records at four other distances, winning gold medals for the marathon at the European Championships in 1969 and the Commonwealth Games in 1970.
However, to many, he made his fame as a clothing entrepreneur with the well-recognised Ron Hill running attire, which can be spotted online, as well as in sports shops up and down the country. To us though, he is our much-adored Sports Tours International ambassador, spreading the word on how fanatical about sport we really are, not to mention promoting many of our upcoming running events. If this is the first you’ve heard of the great man, then lace up your trainers, as we talk you through the fascinating Ron Hill story.
Sir Mo Farah may take the accolades for creating the interest in long distance running on British shores these days, but in the 60’s, 70’s and even 80’s, Ron was without a doubt the Farah of his time. In the second half of the swinging sixties, Hill waltzed his way to a world record for 10 miles in 46:44, 15 miles in 72:48.2 and 25km in 75:22.6. The achievements didn’t end there either. In 1969, Ron won the European Championships marathon on the Marathon-to-Athens course, which is historic to say the least. This route has been attributed as the first ever marathon when Pheidippides, in 490AD, ran to Athens to bring news of the victory over the Persians at the Battle of Marathon. Now hosted every year, the Athens Authentic Marathon is a classic event on the running calendar and is a great way to spend the weekend! Away from his triumphs in Greece’ Ron became the first British runner to win the Boston Marathon. Smashing the course record by a staggering three minutes, he clocked a time of 2:10:30. In July 1970, success came again. This time in the British Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, when he became just the second man ever to ever break the 2:10 barrier for the marathon, stopping the clock on a world record time of 2:09:28. The first 10km of that run saw Ron timed at 29:24, the equivalent of a 2:04 marathon pace which, at the time, was seen as something quite extraordinary. That placed Ron as the Track & Field News top marathon runner of the year in 1970, before richly deserved special honours would follow from Her Majesty a year later with an OBE for his ‘services to athletics’. His final appearance at the Olympic Games would soon follow, finishing a creditable 6th in the marathon at the 1972 Munich Olympics aged 33.
If Ron’s record-breaking achievements weren’t enough to portray his enthusiasm for running, then maybe his running challenges will. It may even inspire you to enter one of our upcoming running events around the world. Between 20th December 1964 and 30th January 2017, Ron did not miss a single day of running. It might not always have been as far as other days, but he defined a ‘run’ as completing a distance of at least one mile at any pace. Remarkably that streak of 52 years and 39 days included workouts after a car crash in 1993 when Ron broke his sternum, and another after bunion surgery which meant he covered his daily mile on a crutch. In 2014, Ron completed one of Manchester’s most popular running challenges in Heaton Park’s 5km, ticking off his goal of running at least a mile a day for 50 years. Sadly, due to ill health, Ron took a day off on the 30th January 2017 and brought an end to his breath-taking streak.
Down there for running, up there for thinking. That’s a good way to sum up the life of Ron Hill so far. After graduating from university with a PhD in textile chemistry, Ron set about convincing the running world about the benefits of synthetic materials for athletes taking on upcoming running events. That saw the launch of Ron Hill Sports in 1970, pioneering wrap over-shorts, mesh vests and waterproof running jackets to name just a few products. The company was eventually sold, before Hill set back up in business with Hilly Clothing, specialising in technical socks and other running accessories.
If Ron’s story has got you rummaging in the cupboard to dust off your old running trainers, then why not set yourself your own running challenge with us at Sports Tours International? When we say we’re fanatical about sport we really mean it, which is why we’re offering you the opportunity to sign up for a whole range of running events from 5km’s to following in the footsteps of Ron Hill and competing in the Athens Marathon or the Boston Marathon. You can even enter a race that the great man himself founded – the Tour of Tameside. Either way, lace up your running shoes and get in touch with our team at Sports Tours International for all the latest information.
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