Peter Ryan, a gentle giant of our sport, is in our thoughts



It saddens me to bring the news that Pete died in his sleep in the small hours of this morning. His presence will be sorely missed by the race walking community at home and abroad.

We have received the following stomach-churning news about Pete Ryan, a much respected and loved member of the national and international race walking community.

Thanks to Mark Easton for the photo

Sadly Pete has been ill for some time with terminal pancreatic cancer, and is now admitted to Woking Hospice where he will spend what are expected to be his final days. There are not to be visitors at the Hospice in the current situation, but Pete has stated that he would enjoy reading your messages in what he fully accepts are his final days.

The address is – Room 19, Woking and Sam Beare Hospice, Goldsworth Park Centre, WOKING, Surrey GU21 3LG

This is shocking, tragic news. We’re sure many will quickly be posting cards and messages so he can look forward to them arriving.

Pete is especially remembered within our club from the period in the late 1960s and early 70s when we challenged the dominance of the Sheffield United Harriers, supreme at a northern and national level from the Second World War onwards. Thus I first met Pete, as he carried on that tradition in winning the inaugural 1970 Northern Youth 3 miles championship. My report in the Race Walking Record read as follows:

Northern championships

This was a great step forward for the area. The old standard 10 miles championsip has been removed from the calendar. The fields for both inaugural races were small but as Frank Clay remarked after the races, ‘Oak trees from acorns grow’. Conditions were excellent and the convincing Youth championship winner was gangly Sheffielder, Peter Ryan. He was chased by two diminutive stylists in Sephton and Greasley, the latter following in his father’s footsteps.

In an short course Junior 5 miles Mick Holmes, showing greater control and relaxation, overwhelmed fellow Junior international Tony Malone and the powerful Mick Entwistle.’

Youth 3 miles

  1. P. Ryan [Sheffield U.H.] 25:08
  2. B.Sephton [LWC] 25:37
  3. M. Greasley [Sheffield U.H.] 25:39

Junior 5 miles

  1. M.Holmes [YWRC] 32:01
  2. T. Malone [LWC] 33:28
  3. M. Entwistle [LWC] 33:45
  4. J. Ford [Sheffield U.H.] 34:02

It’s rumoured that Pete never forgave me for dubbing him ‘gangly’!

A week later Pete finished 4th in the National Youth 3 miles, whilst Tony and Mick finished 3rd and 5th behind Mick Holmes and Olly Flynn, the winner. We triumphed in the team race.

Perhaps Pete’s proudest moment was his victory against the odds in the Newmarket 100 miles in 2003. It’s said that he was coaxed out of retirement to do the race by our great friend, Glyn Jones. Back in 1982 Pete was ranked third in the UK 50k rankings with a time of 4:18:30.

The recollections appearing on Facebook refer constantly to Pete as a great champion of our sport, a true gentleman and a kind-hearted, generous soul.

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3 Responses to Peter Ryan, a gentle giant of our sport, is in our thoughts

  1. Peter & Marion Fawkes says:

    That last paragraph says it all! No more to be said!

  2. William SUTHERLAND says:

    How dreadful to hear of Peter Ryan’s passing at such a young age. Always jovial and full of life with a good encouraging word for all his fellow walkers. He will be greatly missed by so many. Rest in Peace. Bill and Kath Sutherland

  3. Pingback: Pete Ryan – message to the club from Fiona Bishop and notice of the funeral | Lancashire Walking Club : Health The First Wealth

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