FORMER Olympic marathon runner and world record breaker Ron Hill celebrated receiving a district’s highest honour yesterday with a brisk uphill run.

Dr Hill, 73, was made a Freeman of the Borough of Hyndburn at a meeting of the full council last night in which councillors paid tribute to his extraordinary achievements. After the formalities at Accrington Town Hall were concluded, Dr Hill embarked on a three-mile run up the Coppice, accompanied by Hyndburn Council chief executive David Welsby, members of Accrington Road Runners, Clayton-le-Moors Harriers and children from Springhill Primary School.

Dr Hill has competed in two Olympic marathons – Tokyo 1964 and Munich 1972 – and also competed in the 10,000 metres at the 1968 Mexico games.

He was the second man to run under 2 hours 10 minutes in the marathon and also set world records at four other distances.

Former Accrington Grammar School pupil Dr Hill said: “It’s a very great honour for me and when I first heard it was totally out of the blue.

“I was also honoured to meet the Queen last month so it has been an amazing few months. It’s nearly as good as being picked for the Olympics! It’s 40 years since I took part in the Olympics and I couldn’t have had a better anniversary.”

Leader of the council Miles Parkinson said: “Concluding the council meeting with the Coppice run was just a brilliant way for the running clubs to show solidarity with Ron and their support.

Running is his passion and what has driven him through much of his life, so it was a very fitting way to conclude the formalities.”

After the Coppice run, which began at the Whittakers Arms in Burnely Road, the runners and council dignitaries returned to the pub for refreshments.

Dr Hill has maintained the feat of running at least a mile every day for the past 47 years. He also keeps his links with his old running clubs, the Clayton Harriers and Accrington Road Runners Textile chemistry graduate Dr Hill’s company, Ron Hill Sports, pioneered synthetic sporting and outdoor clothing.

Ron's sporting achievements

Ron Hill held numerous national and world long-distance records. He held world records for 10 miles, 15 miles and 25km.

  • He represented Great Britain in three Olympic Games between 1964 and 1972, competing in marathons and 10,000m races.
  • At the Tokyo Olympics in 1964, he finished 18th in the 10,000m and and 19th in the marathon.
  • At the 1968 games in Mexico City, he finished 7th in the 10,000m and four years later on in Munich, he finished sixth in the marathon.
  • In 1969, Hill won the European Championships Marathon on the Marathon-to-Athens course.
  • In 1970, Hill became the first British winner to win the Boston Marathon. He went to win gold at the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh later in the year.
  • Hill’s exploits saw him ranked as top marathoner of the year in 1970 by Track and Field News.
  • The following year he was honoured with the Order of the British Empire for ‘services to athletics.