My best-laid plans thwarted. I intended to post a personal reminiscence this evening celebrating the inspirational impact of Ron Wallwork on the life of the Lancashire Walking Club – from the late 50s through to the mid-1970s. It was half-finished. However a flood in the bathroom has created chaos, spilling into the study, my illusory refuge from a turbulent world, threatening even the riches of my CD collection. In a bid to calm down I’m scribbling this apology to the soothing strains of Erik Satie.
For now a couple of recollections and some images will have to suffice.
Ron’s first title was to see him the Northern ‘Junior’ 10 miles champion in February 1959 at the Hindley Green Labour Club, Leigh. Only a mile way from my home I was a diminutive spectator. The Junior title had nothing to do with age. It meant merely that competitors had neither won individual or team Senior medals. Ironically a few weeks later Ron was prevented from racing in the Northern Senior 10 at Sheffield as at 17 years of age he was too young.
Less than a decade later he was the Commonwealth 20 miles champion and in 1967 a double national victor at 10 miles and 20 kilometres.
In 1970, save the presence of West German, Wilf Wesch he would have been a triple champion, 10 miles, 20 kilometres and 20 miles.
And, of course in 1971 he was to break Ken Matthews’ 2 hour track record.
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.
RON’S PERSONAL BESTS
2 miles track 13.35 (converts to something like 12.45 3km)
10km track 43.07
7 miles track 49.50/road 49.38 (Highgate)
10 miles 72.13
20 miles 2.35.18
100 miles 22.26.07
There is much more to tell about Ron’s inspirational contribution to our club and I hope to add some colour to the history in my delayed reminiscence. Hopefully, it will be available at the latest at the beginning of next week.
For now I am sure that all of us at the club are united in wishing Ron, a grand lad as my grandma would say, a beltin’ birthday.
No airs and graces about Ron – a talented, honest, unassuming individual who has cemented his place in history in both Race Walking and Horse Racing circles. Let’s not forget Joan, his ever supporting wife who also played a big part in his successes!
It’s a real privilege to know Ron, his support and encouragement for me during my race walking was invaluable. He travelled with us to both Holland and to France. Such a generous spirited and humble guy. I salute you Ron for what you have achieved as an outstanding athlete and for what you have given to others in the sport of Race Walking. Thank you.
Well said, Peter and Marion. Joan will certainly appear in my reminiscence.
Congratulations Ron , you’ve beaten me to it again. I remember you taking me under your wing when making my GB debut in Germany in 1970 and we have been great pals ever since.
Your results and performances are legendary and you even found fame in Iceland !
Have a great 80th birthday and many more to come.
Congratulations Ron. You have been a great inspiration both as an athlete and as a cach. I well remember rooming with you in Edinburgh and in the Lugano Championship in Eschborn. Your help for the Enfield League is inestimable.
Congratulations Ron. My radio is paying tribute to Bob Dylan, also of the same vintage. One of his lines is, ‘How does it fee-eel?’ I’m sure we would get a valued answer from you Ron, full of wisdom, advice and bonhomie. I’ve always felt honoured to be in your presence, miles behind you when I competed and over more recent years as you’ve supported and promoted RW in various ways. The South Moulton 5 is a great tribute to you. Love to Joan.