No dis­tance, time pe­riod too long for ul­trarun­ner Don­ald Ritchie

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - OPINION - PHIL DAVISON ·

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

Don­ald Ritchie

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