45 Years On – Celebrating Ron Wallwork’s UK 2 Hour Record

Ahead of this coming Saturday’s 2 hour track race celebrating Ron’s UK record find below the report I wrote for the September 1971 edition of the Race Walking Record. I’ve taken the opportunity, 45 years on, to correct a number of proof-reading errors in the original. Amazingly, given the plethora of photos available today of both the significant and insignificant moments in our lives, I’ve not been able to trace a single image from that great day in a murky and misty Blackburn.



Victory in 1966 at the Commonwealth Games


On 31st July, at Blackburn, the hyper-consistent Lancastrian, Ron Wallwork produced the finest performance of his long career in breaking Ken Matthews’ 2 hour figure of 15miles, 1556 yards by the large margin of 519 yards.  Despite the difficult conditions presented by heavy rain, a blustery wind and a sodden track, Ron signalled his intentions from the gun, flashing through the mile in 6:55.8.  Indeed with only 4 laps completed he was a totally isolated figure and from this moment, the only competitive reaction to his relentless progress came on the occasions when he lapped Tony Taylor.  In fact, apart from Taylor and Eric Crompton, no other competitor reached the 10 miles mark, mainly because of the appalling weather.  But Wallwork was completely contemptuous of such problems and put together splits of 22.00 and 22:36.4 to reach 10,000 metres in his fourth sub 44.40 clocking of the season.  Lapping very consistently he churned out the next 5,000 metres in 23:00.2 and it became evident that great deeds were afoot.  Ron reached 10 miles in 72:41.4, over 2.5 minutes faster than his National “10” winning time of 1967.  The magic 20 kilometre mark was passed in an excellent 91:04.4, second fastest ever by a British walker on the track.  Ken Matthews had gone through this point in a magnificent 88:45.8 but, of course, had slowed dramatically in the last half hour.  There were no signs that the composed Bolton competitor was going to suffer a similar fate for strength exuded from his powerful frame.  His winter regime of weight and circuit training was certainly paying dividends as he fought the slippery track and gusty rain-laden, back straight wind.  It was at the 14 miles point that the paths in time of the Olympic gold medallist 1964 and the Commonwealth gold medallist 1966 finally came together.  Ron passed in 103:10.4 compared to Ken’s 103.08 and his next mile occupied only 7.42, whilst Ken Matthews had taken a painful 9.06.  To the astonishment of his supporters, Wallwork’s 15 miles time constituted a new national record, a Commonwealth best performance and was only 5.8 seconds outside the Czech Bilek’s world best of 1:50:46.6.  Never faltering Ron pressed on to the 25 kilometres mark, reached in 1:55:00.8, where he was again faster than both Matthews and Allsop.  The 16 miles point came in 118:40.0 and in the last 80 seconds Ron covered 315 yards to complete a remarkable walk.  As well as managing to fit the linear 16 miles into 2 hours, he had also completed the difficult metric equivalent of 26 kilometres.  The Commonwealth record had slipped away from him, but after a spell of 7 years, the UK 2 hours record once again belonged to a Lancastrian, the former holder before Matthews having been the renowned one-armed postman, Bobby Bridge.


  1. R.Wallwork [Lancashire WC] 16 miles 315 yards
  2. T.Taylor [Lancashire WC] 14 miles 755 yards
  3. E.Crompton [Leyland WC] 13 miles 765 yards


1 – 6:55.8 2 – 7:05.4 3 – 7:12.6 4 – 7:15.2 5 -7:15.6 6 – 7:16.6 7 – 7:22.4 8 – 7:23.2

9 – 7:26.4 10 – 7:28.2 11-7:31 12 – 7:39.2 13 – 7:35.4 14 – 7:43.4 15 – 7:42 16 – 7:47.6


22:00.0 ; 22:36.4; 23:00.2; 23:27.8 ; 23:56.4

In the same Race Walking Record the much respected Jack Wagenheim, President of Yorkshire RWC wrote:

“ In my 60 years as competitor and official, in my opinion, there has been nothing to compare – the style of walking was a lesson. I think Ronnie Wallwork would have done even better if I had more competition.”


I must thank Ron for digging out his copy of the Race Walking Record and for this additional information re Bobby Bridge’s record from May, 1914.


1 – 7:21+ 2 – 14:49+ 3 – 22:34+ 4 – 30:27 5 – 38:25+ 6 – 46:18+ 7 – 54:06 8 – 61:56

9 – 69:12+ 10 – 76:41 11 – 84:09+ 12 – 91:55+ 13 – 99:56 14 – 107:49+ 15 – 116:26

As Bobby was competing in a 12 hour race he went on to 16 miles in 125:39+.

Forgive the strange + sign after the number of seconds, but I couldn’t decipher the fractions of a second. Remember this is long before decimalisation!!





START:      1.30PM

As an alternative to the 2hour both men/women can do a 5k or 10k if you so wish.
This race  commemorates the  45th Anniversary of Ron Wallworks record breaking walk at Witton Park cinder track. He achieved a distance of 16 miles 315 yards.
We are delighted that Ron and other special guests will at the race on Saturday 10th.

Fred has provisionally booked ‘ Pizzeria Bella Italia’ in Bury at  5.30/6.00 for those of you who may want to go for an after race meal . Ron suggested it and Fred has made the arrangements.  Fred has told me that Tony T, Julian Hopkins, Dave Vickers, Mike Entwistle, Ron & Joan, Chris& he will be going and he hopes a lot more will come. If you google it you will find details as it is not far away and they do an early doors meal…….any pasta, pizza etc for £6.90.

More details of this meal will follow.
Hope to see as many of you there as possible – if you are not able to race please come along,  either to help or spectate.


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2 Responses to 45 Years On – Celebrating Ron Wallwork’s UK 2 Hour Record

  1. Roy Gunnett says:

    Thanks Tony, Fascinating report of the race – wish I had been there to see it. See you Saturday. Cheers, Roy

    Sent from my iPad

  2. Pingback: Our Essex friends look forward to Ron Wallwork’s 80th! | Lancashire Walking Club : Health The First Wealth

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