'We weren't as poor as Alf, even though we did live in a two-up, two-down, with an outside toilet,' Hill says, 'but he was my first role model.' In 1970, 'Tupper' was depicted winning the Commonwealth Games marathon, just as Hill did in real life.
Few runners come tougher than Hill himself. The 1969 European Marathon champion has run at least a mile every day since 1964, maintaining the sequence even after a head-on car crash last September left him with a broken sternum. 'I would not have gone out the next day if I hadn't had the streak going, but the doctor said I could do it if I took it easy.' Normally, he covers 50 miles a week.
Hill, now 55, has run 1,800 races in 36 years, including 114 marathons. 'I'd like to get to 2,000 before I retire,' he says. 'I'm planning one more marathon, the 100th Boston, next April.' Hill won Boston in 1970, the first Britain to do so. The London 1992 was his last marathon.
With a PhD in textile chemistry, Hill pioneered several developments in sports clothing through his own company until business fell away in the recession. Now he sells his expertise as a consultant, and organises running holidays. Married with two sons, he lives in Hyde, Cheshire.