With little under 3 weeks before the Manchester Maxol Marathon and what was the beginning of a golden 12 months for Ron, a mere racing ‘knock’ in the World Games 10,000m track race almost put an end to it before it had started. A spike wound to the outside of the Achilles tendon grew septic and cast a shadow as to whether the start line was possible. But with some ointment, dressing and a touch of resolve, victory was claimed beating Derek Clayton in a new personal best time of 2:13:42 and automatic selection to the European Athletics Championships in Athens, Greece.
A tight window (in Marathon terms) of 3 months was all there was between the trial race and the European Championships but with a new carbohydrate diet and continued rich form, Ron won the gold medal for Great Britain in 2:16:47 in stifling conditions in the signature string vest and split shorts.
The 1969 season ended with a trip to Japan to contest the Fukuoka Marathon. The race was won by Canadian star Jerome Drayton in a super quick 2:11:13 with Ron in second place recording a surprising personal best time of 2:11:54
In 1970 the Boston Marathon was considered the marathon of the world as well as being the oldest annual marathon, having first been held in 1897. The UK ‘Road Runners’ club sent Ron to Massachusetts (a magazine ad was published to help raise the airfare due to the strict amateur ruling that race organizers can’t fund athlete participation) with the hope of him becoming the first British winner. Ron’s memory of the event is of the icy cold weather and the fact he had only taken the string vest and shorts that proved perfect race kit in the searing conditions of Athens eight months earlier. With some pre-race hand-blowing to warm up, Ron took victory along the famous Boylston Road in a course record 2:10:30.
Edinburgh hosted the Commonwealth Games in 1970 with Ron firmly tipped as the favorite for gold in the Marathon. Halfway was reached in a savagely fast 62:35 and Ron recalls nearly getting an ulcer in the final six miles from the worry of whether he could keep the pace up. Meadowbank was a welcomed sight and Ron reached the tape in a new world best time of 2:09:28 in front of a packed stadium.
Ron’s secret to this success was simple (kind of!). In high training phases the training diary would read between 120-140 miles per week including 2 sessions, a race on a Saturday and a long 20 miles on a Sunday morning. After a marathon, recovery weeks started at 30 miles to 40 miles and then 2 weeks of 50 miles before hitting the 100+ weeks again in the build up to the next one.