A LIFETIME in running has brought many honours to Dr Ron Hill MBE. On Tuesday, December 2, he will receive one more when he becomes an honorary freeman of the borough of Tameside.
The award will be presented during an extraordinary meeting of Tameside Council at Dukinfield Town Hall (5pm). Ron will be given an illuminated scroll and will sign the roll of honorary freemen in the presence of the Civic Mayor, Cllr Leigh Drennan, and the chief executive, Steven Pleasant.
Cllr Brenda Warrington, executive leader of Tameside Council, said: "The freedom of Tameside is a rare honour. This will be only the 13th time it has been awarded in 45 years. Three of the holders are army regiments while the last person to receive it was Sir Geoff Hurst who scored a hat-trick in the 1966 World Cup final.
"As the record shows, it is a very special accolade that is only conferred on very special people or groups. Ron Hill is not only an internationally renowned athlete but also a successful businessman and founder of the world-famous Tour of Tameside.
"He is thoroughly deserving of this prestigious award and we are proud to recognise his many achievements."
Ron Hill, who is 81 and lives in Hyde, came to prominence in the 1960s. He represented Great Britain in the 1964 and 1972 Olympics and won marathon gold at the 1969 European Championships in Athens and the 1970 Edinburgh Commonwealth Games. In 1971 he took bronze at the Helsinki European Championships.
He lays claim to the longest streak of consecutive running - every day for 52 years and 39 days from 1964 to 2017. He has also held a host of world records at various distances and won several overseas marathons including Boston in 1970 when he shattered the course record by three minutes. He had raced in 100 countries before his 70th birthday in 2008.
Ron, whose doctorate is in textile chemistry, founded Ron Hill Sports in 1970, pioneering products including wrap-over shorts, mesh vests, waterproof running jackets and reflective strips.
In 1981, he launched the unique Tour of Tameside which comprised a double marathon run within the space of a week with each of the six stages being over different terrain. It was billed as the toughest challenge in British athletics.
The event, which drew competitors from all over the world, ran until 2000. It was relaunched in a modified format in 2015 and remains as popular and challenging as ever.