Masters Marathon Legend Ed Whitlock Dies at 86

The Canadian, who broke 3:00 in the marathon in his 70s and 4:00 at age 85, succumbed to prostate cancer.

In 2003, at 72, Whitlock became the first person 70 or older to break 3:00 in the marathon, with a 2:59:10 at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon. A year later, at 73, he lowered that 70+ best to 2:54:49. Over the ensuing years, Whitlock set age-group marks in the 70+, 75+, 80+, and 85+ age groups at distances from 1500 meters up through the marathon. Just last October, at 85, he ran 3:56:33 at the Toronto Marathon, becoming the first in his age group to break 4:00 and taking 28 minutes off the previous 85+ record.
The British-born Mr. Whitlock trained in a cemetery near his home in Milton, Ontario, outside Toronto, running laps for three hours or more at a time in his shuffling style. He had no coach, followed no special diet, did no stretching except on the morning of a race, got no massages and took no medication, except for a supplement for his knees.
The training itself was drudgery, Mr. Whitlock said, and he did not run for his health. He simply enjoyed setting records and getting attention. And those records forced scientists and fellow runners to reassess the possibilities of aging and performance.
“The real feeling of enjoyment,” he said in an interview with The New York Times in December, “is getting across the finish line and finding out that you’ve done O.K.”
At 5 feet 7 inches and a racing weight of 110 to 112 pounds, Mr. Whitlock was also a marvel of science. At 81, he underwent a battery of physiological tests at McGill University in Montreal. His oxygen-carrying capacity was the highest ever recorded in the literature for someone his age, scientists said. And his relative retention of muscle mass was also considered remarkable.
Edward Frederick Whitlock was born in London on March 6, 1931. He ran a 4:34 mile as a schoolboy, but an injury to the Achilles’ tendon in his right foot curtailed his collegiate running career. Upon graduating in 1952 from the Royal School of Mines at Imperial College in London, he moved to Canada for work and did not run again seriously for nearly two decades, until he was 41.
Mr. Whitlock is survived by his wife of 58 years, Brenda; two sons, Neil and Clive; and a sister, Catherine Hunt.
By December, though, his running had been interrupted by various pains in his shoulder, knee, hip and groin. His weight had also dropped to 105 pounds. Even so, as with many runners, he was reluctant to visit a doctor. He gave no indication that he was gravely ill.

R.I.P Ed.. He is a legend

Watch some of his video

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