Runners from all around the world have been paying tribute to Ed Whitlock after the running legend died last week.
The 86-year-old held dozens of age-group world records, ranging from 1500m to the marathon, and died from prostate cancer in Toronto last Monday.
Only five months ago, the Ranelagh Harriers member, who moved to Canada in 1952, ran three hours, 56.33 minutes at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon to knock almost 40 minutes off the previous world record in the 85-89 age group.
Ranelagh club president Steve Rowland said: “The news of Ed’s death came as a great shock to us all.
“When he last visited us in December 2016 he seemed full of life.
“He spoke about his plans for the future, setting more records and running when he was 90.
“It seems unbelievable that he should have been taken from us less than three months later. He was an example and an inspiration to us all.”
HAPPY RUNNER: Ed Whitlock crossing the finishing line in December’s mob match
Ed’s final race was for Richmond-based Ranelagh in a 7.67 mile cross-country mob match against South London Harriers in December, 67 years after his previous mob match for the club.
After it he modestly spoke to club members about his running exploits and extraordinary achievements.
Peter Fordham ran alongside Ed on his last race and said: “Ed didn’t say much on the run, but it was remarkable to witness his light and fluid running style at close quarters on terrain which was rough, hilly and slippery in places.
“He was so light on his feet that on one occasion I bumped into him, unaware of his presence.
“On the steepest hill, I was unable to hear him breathing even though he was less than a metre or two away from me.
“After the race he thanked me for pacing him around the course, but the truth was that he was pushing me.
“It was such a shock to hear that Ed is no longer with us, considering he seemed to be in extraordinary health only a few months ago.”
An English-born Canadian, Ed was born and raised in south west London and graduated from the Royal School of Mines, which was part of Imperial College, before moving to Canada.
His sister Catherine still lives in south west London and he kept a close eye on Ranelagh.
According to the World Masters Athletics age grading calculator, his world-record run of 3.15:54 as an 80-year-old equates to an elite runner clocking 2:02:10 – 47 seconds faster than Dennis Kimetto’s marathon world record.
He also remains the only person aged 70 and over to run a sub three-hour marathon and set an age-group world record time of 2.54:48, aged 73 – a mark he said he was most proud of when speaking at Richmond’s Roebuck Pub in December.
“That marathon I consider my best race ever of any distance,” he said.
“I crossed the finish line and felt I could keep going for a long time.
“I judged the race perfectly. I ran the second half the same pace as I ran the first half. It was a magical day.
“Marathon runners are mainly a pretty silly lot really.
“It is a silly vice to get into but I like it when it is over. When I cross the finish line it is OK.
“I’ve had a lot of enjoyment over the years out of running and I would recommend it to anyone.”
Ed is survived by his wife Brenda, his sons Neil and Clive and his sister Catherine.