LETTER : In search of our greatest athlete

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The Independent Online
From Mr Mike Aris

Sir: The greatest athlete this country has ever produced? What about the Scottish ultra-distance runner Don Ritchie, MBE? Don Who? Athletics does not end after four laps of a track.

Don's 100 miles world-best of 11hrs 30min 51secs has stood since 1977; his 100 km world best of 6hrs 10min 20secs has stood since 1978, his 200 km world best of 16hrs 19min 16secs has stood since 1991, and this was set when he was 47 years old! This year, he has set world bests for a 50-year-old at 30 miles, 50 km, 40 miles, 50 miles and 100 km at times only a handful of runners of any age could hope to achieve. What is more, this extremely reserved and modest man has done it all for the love of sport - ultra-distance running is about amateur athletics.

Yours faithfully,

Mike Aris

London, W5