British marathon runner Ron Hill, who ran every day for a record 52 years, has died at the age of 82.
His clothing company Ronhill confirmed his death in a statement posted to social media on Sunday. Hill had been suffering from dementia.
‘It is with immense sadness we today mourn the passing of British running legend Dr Ron Hill MBE, our founder, our inspiration, a husband, a father, a grandfather, a runner.
‘We send our thoughts to May, Graham, Steve and all the family at this time,’ the post read, referring to Hill’s wife and sons.
Hill, the 1969 European Athletics Championships marathon gold-medal winner was the second man to break the two hours and 10 minutes barrier in the discipline.
The Accrington-born distance runner claimed marathon gold at the 1970 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh and also won the 74th Boston Marathon – the first Brit to do so.
British marathon runner Ron Hill, who ran every day for a record 52 years, has died at the age of 82
Hill, the 1969 European Athletics Championships marathon gold-medal winner was the second man to break the two hours and 10 minutes barrier in the discipline
Without a trainer or a dietician, he broke world records at four different distances and represented Great Britain in the marathon at three Olympics, Tokyo in 1964, Mexico City in 1968, and Munich in 1972.
Throughout his career he often ran locally for the sheer enjoyment of the sport and talked of his longing to lace up his shoes again following a dementia diagnosis in 2017.
Hill also laid claim to the longest unbroken streak of running every day, that lasted 52 years and 39 days, from 1964 to 2017, clocking up more than 160,000 miles until a heart problem in 2016 forced him to stop.
Off the track, hill also completed a PhD in textile chemistry and founded his clothing company Ronhill in 1970 which pioneered and designed new types of running clothes.
It had a shop on Market Street in Hyde and is still going strong today with its products manufactured at Redfern Industrial Estate in the town.
In 2018, Hill recalled becoming the second man ever to break 2.10 as ‘One of the best days of my life!’
Hill photographed in 1969 after finishing trying out the course round Manchester for the Maxol Marathon race that year
He completed the feat at the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh in 1970, finishing the race in two hours 9 minutes.
‘People said: ‘That pace is suicidal, he’ll never keep it up’. But I had everything under control.
‘I covered ten miles in 48 minutes and I was a bit tired, but my body was working perfectly and I knew I could win, so I put my head down and ran.’
Once, when he’d left his running shoes at home, he taped up his feet, ran the Salford Marathon barefoot and broke the course record. But he hardly made a penny from his sport.
‘Three days’ running and the prizes were a pair of single sheets and a picnic hamper,’ he laughs.
‘When I smashed the record for the Boston Marathon, I got a bowl of beef stew,’ he said.
In 2016, Hill’s family began noticing changes in his behaviour and scans later revealed hardening of the arteries and decreased volume of the hippocampus, which is the area of the brain responsible for memories.
He went on to supporting the joint Alzheimer’s Research UK and Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Revolution fundraising campaign around the 2019 Virgin London Marathon.
‘I might forget to tell you something, I might be a little bit vaguer than before. But I’m still me, I’m still here, and I want you to treat me as you always did, because I’ve still got life to live — as far as I’m concerned, this race is far from run,’ he said in 2018.
Hill (left) watches Raymond Kimutai Bett win the 28th Athens Classic Marathon in 2010
Hill laid claim to the longest unbroken streak of running every day, that lasted 52 years and 39 days, from 1964 to 2017, clocking up more than 160,000 miles until a heart problem in 2016 forced him to stop. Pictured: Hill leading in the Race at Bolton
Fans paid tribute to the running legend on social media following the news of his death.
Alan Royston wrote on Twitter: ‘Very sad news indeed. Many like me from #Hyde will be deeply saddened by his passing. #RonHill was familiar face in the town. Not just a runner, a lovely man who gave his time to various events, he will be sadly missed. Condolences to all the family. RIP #RunningLegend.’
‘People throw the term legend around too easily. This man deserves that title and many more. RIP Ron. An inspiration to so many,’ another Twitter user wrote.
James Michie wrote: ‘Condolences to the family, but what an achievement his life successes were and I can’t believe my Ronhill tracksuit bottoms are still being used 35 years on! Quality’.
Athletics organisations also paid tribute, with British Athletics saying it was ‘deeply saddened’ to hear of Hill’s passing. ‘Our thoughts are with his family, friends and the athletics community at this difficult time.’
Many local teams that had a connection to Hill also posted remembrances.