Written by Dave Scott
Many of you will know the sad news that Ron Hill has died, aged 82, a legend in running circles and our club. Ron was born in Accrington in 1938 and joined Clayton when a pupil at Accrington Grammar School in 1953. Then, Clayton was mainly a Fell and Cross Country club and after a few years, in 1960 he joined Bolton Harriers where the standard of Road running was much higher. His achievements and records are so many to list, but include World Records at 10 miles, 15 miles and 25km, Marathon wins at European Games, Boston and the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh in 1972. On that day Jill and I were in the stands with Richard and Valerie Lawson cheering him into the stadium in first place wearing his string vest. He also won many road, track and cross country races at local and national level.
His famous ‘streak’ lasted from 1964 to 2017, when he ran every day for 19,032 days or 52 years 39 days before heart problems along with Lancashire common sense caused him to stop.
He re-joined Clayton in 1976 as 2nd claim and the club made him an Honorary member in 2003.
Just a few memories of my own. I first came across Ron in the early 1960’s in the last 200 yards of a S.E.L.C.C. League race in Bury. I was trying hard, with no-one in front when I heard footsteps rapidly catching me up . Next moment a voice said ‘I bet I frightened you then!’ I looked and there was Ron, laughing, having seen my Clayton vest in front. He was running as a guest and had not been allowed to start with us until 10 minutes later.
I have run with him in the De Vere Relays in Blackpool where we won the Vets. race. The photo is pinned up on my cork board! – also in the National Vets Relays in Birmingham. Another photo I have is to celebrate his having run 200,000 kilometres. We are standing on top of the Weets in a gale holding a banner saying ‘200,000K’ having run up as group from Rolls Royce. In December 2007 he celebrated his 150,000th mile by finishing in the centre circle in Accrington Stanley’s football stadium accompanied by a group of us. Wonderful memories, along with many other races where we bumped into each other. My son, a very occasional runner, remembers being chuffed to meet, and run in the same race as the legend when we parked next to him at Ilkley Trail Race.
His love of racing was such, that whilst many top class runners give up racing when they are no longer competitive, Ron continued running in races although much further down the field. I like to believe that not only I, but many other runners, appreciated his presence. His stated wish was that he would wear his Clayton vest in his coffin.
Running will be so much easier now that you are breathing the same air as angels.