No distance, time period too long for ultrarunner Donald Ritchie
AS A student in his native Scotland, Donald Ritchie became known as a gifted 400m runner.
At the finish, he always noticed his competitors were exhausted but that he was barely warmed up. So he moved up through the distances, becoming a marathon runner, once clocking 2 hours, 19 minutes, 34 seconds in the London Marathon.
Even after marathons, when his fellow competitors collapsed at the finish line, he found his stamina had barely been tested.
Ritchie, whose death on June 16 aged 73 was announced by the International Association of Ultrarunners (IAU), became the UKs greatest “ultrarunner” and one of the best in the world.
He set international records for distances from 50km to
200km and in time-based races of up to 24 hours. His inspiration helped to increase the number of ultrarunners by 1 000% over the past decade, according to the Guardian newspaper. The IAU, which organises world championships over ultramarathon distances, said Ritchie set world records: a world track record for 160km around a track at London’s Crystal Palace on September 25, 1977, with a time of 11: 30: 31; and for 100km on the same track on October 28, 1978, when he clocked 6:10:20.
Fellow distance runner Glen Elliot wrote in 1989: “His 100 mile race at Crystal Palace in the late 70s still staggers the ultra-distance fraternity… a phenomenal pace of under seven minutes per mile.”
In 1989, running for British charity Cancer Research, he ran from John O’Groats at the northerly tip of Scotland to Land’s End at the southerly tip of England.
He covered the 1 358km in 10 days – more than three marathons a day. Queen Elizabeth II awarded him an MBE in 1995. He died at home in Lossiemouth of heart problems. – Washington Post
Set international records for distances from 50km to 200km in races of up to 24 hours