Glenhuntly Athletics is deeply saddened to announce the passing of Club Legend, Patron and close friend of so many Hunters, Ron Clarke. All Club members extend their sincerest condolences to Helen, Marcus and Nicolas. Those of us who had the honour of knowing Ron have lost a great friend and the nation has lost a great man.
A tribute from close friend, Trevor Vincent
Ron Clarke (1937 – 2015) – A Special Friend.
I first became aware of Ron during his junior running days, when he set a World Junior record for 1 mile, just prior to the 1956 Olympics.
Our paths crossed occasionally over the next few years, but in 1960/1961 it all came together when Ron joined myself, Tony Cook, and a few others, who were training regularly at Caulfield Racecourse. This was the start of what became a close lifelong friendship.
Soon afterwards, with great encouragement and support from our good friend Frank McMahon, we ventured to the Dandenong Ranges for our long Sunday morning runs, starting a tradition that continues to this day. We became known as the “Ferny Creek Gang”.
In those early days distance running in Australia was dominated, with a few exceptions, by New South Wales – but we soon changed that.
Our pleasing, but unexpected, successes at the 1962 Commonwealth Games gave us confidence to maintain and improve our training and competition routines. Great further success, as detailed in the great obituaries by Len Johnson and Paul Jenes, followed over ensuing years.
Ron was without doubt the finest distance runner that I have seen in my very long involvement in our great sport. Over all distances from 1500m/1 mile to the Marathon, he was magnificent, breaking World Records at all distances from the 2 mile up to the 1 hour run.
He was an incredible racer, rolled with the punches, and beat the best. Just a quick perusal of his 1965 year clearly demonstrates his ability – beaten only a few times and setting multiple World Records.
On a personal basis he was totally approachable, a huge influence on his fellow athletes and friends, and an incredible family man.
At the grass roots level of our sport he was a wonderful example, competing regularly and most unselfishly for his club, state, and his country.
I was one of the small crowd on the sidelines at Olympic Park on December 1963 when Ron set his first 10K World Record in the Zatopek Classic. I was so ‘hyped’ after witnessing such an amazing performance that upon arriving home after the meet, I ventured out for a very late run in the dark as a mark of respect to Ron, and to settle myself down.
Tonight I did a Ron Clarke celebration run/walk and hopefully we can find a few of his friends and admirers interested in a ‘Clarke tribute walk/run’ at Ferny Creek this coming Sunday 21st June at 8.30am.
To Helen, Marcus, Nicholas and the extended family I extend my deepest sympathy.
Len Johnson on Ron Clarke – The man who changed the world