Ed Whitlock dies at 86; greatest masters distancer of all time. Period

Like a metric ton of bricks this hit. My inbox overflowed with the shocking news that Ed Whitlock, my email pal and Canadian track hero for years, had died at 86 of prostate cancer. A year ago, we were chatting about fetching M85 records in the 1500 and up. In the past eight years alone, I’ve gotten 114 notes from him (via his shared “ewbw” account with wife Brenda). He wasn’t a glory hog by any means. He was merely responding to my gazillion requests for details on his latest track record (and sometimes marathon, which he was wont to do.) Ed’s LDR feats are well-documented, including this obit by Runner’s World. But his track records are stunning as well. He’s the listed holder of 11 outdoor and 8 indoor world records. Mostly of the 1500/3000/5000/10,000 variety but also 4×4 relays. Today was going to be devoted to Pete Magill’s M55 American record in the 5K and Christa Bortignon’s two W80 WRs at Canadian indoor nationals. But that’s on pause as we mourn a true great.

Ed resisted being called a role model and inspiration. But tough. He was.

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March 13, 2017

12 Responses

  1. Weia Reinboud - March 13, 2017

    Oh, sad news, very sad news…

  2. Rob Jerome - March 13, 2017

    Very sad news.

  3. Peter L. Taylor - March 13, 2017

    Like most of his admirers around the world, I didn’t know Ed all that well, and I talked to him at only one meet, but at this sad time we are permitted a little license, and so I will set forth some ideas.

    1. He was many people’s vision of a distance runner carried to an extreme. I believe his running weight was only 112, and with his easy stride, slender frame, and formidable endurance it was perfectly natural to see him as the model for an artist: This is what a real distance runner looks like; go ahead and paint him.

    2. Being a distance runner is often very lonely, and Ed seems to have epitomized that as he ran for several hours in his favorite cemetery on his regular workouts.

    3. As far as I know, he never told anyone that he was better than they were.

    4. He found the best approach for him and stayed with it. In the end, we see that he was the Michelangelo of the roads.

    5. Nice to have talked to you, Ed, and I’m very glad that you inspired so many, even though you were too modest to think of yourself as an inspiration.

    6. Fare thee well, Ed.

    Peter L. Taylor

  4. Duncan Greenshields - March 13, 2017

    As you might well imagine, our close Ontario Masters group is shattered by Ed’s passing. He was beyond a legend, much more than an inspiration, but a uniquely honestly humble human being who interacted with us all. He always downplayed his enormous talent and mind boggling performances. There will never be another.

  5. Robert Latting - March 13, 2017

    I never met Ed, but I have the greatest admiration for his accomplishments and his humble nature. He showed amazing dedication to his craft. An amazing man who will be missed, even by those he never knew.

  6. Steve Chantry - March 14, 2017

    Very sad and shocking news. Yes, he was an inspiration. He was one of those I guys I imagined would be setting records at 100 yrs old. A wonderful, quiet, humble man. I will miss him. My condolences to his family.

  7. Earl Fee - March 14, 2017

    Ed’s passing seems like a catastrophe.I had pictured him continuing on to a 100 years or more. His unique talent and capabilities came with a kind, gracious and humble personality. Ed was always agreeable to join a 4x200m 4x400m, 4x800m relay even when tired, and he was ever helpful. One time suggesting I follow him in 1500m race. Last summer at our Canadian Masters outdoor championships we competed in the 800m 85-89 age group; the day before he had broken the world record in the 10K and next day before the 800 had run the 5k, and said he was tired but kindly offered to pace me to improve my 800m record, I declined as I was not feeling up to it. After the 800m race when we somewhat reluctantly ran in a 4x400m relay he said, we are crazy to be doing this.
    Ed Whitlock’s amazing feats will live on for a century and more. He remains a huge inspiration. When the going gets tough I will think of Ed__ forever with us in spirit.

  8. Bill McIlwaine - March 15, 2017

    Hard to believe that he is gone so soon after his world best 15K in November. He is and will be missed by all. RIP my friend.

  9. Mary Harada - March 15, 2017

    I second Earl Fee’s comments about Ed Whitlock – what an inspiration he was and such a fine human being. I had the good fortune to meet him at the WMA in Sacramento. I often thought about him running laps in a cemetery as I ran laps in the much smaller cemetery next to my house.
    Masters running is poorer for his death.
    My sympathy to his family and to my Canadian running friends.

  10. Stephen Lee Ethridge - March 15, 2017

    Truly, ED WHITLOCK has been an INSPIRATION to me and to many aspiring master runners. I am unknown at the present but am a late bloomer who will focus on the mile at first and then other records in running such as Ed Whitlock was so-o good at.
    Bless his soul and all of those who loved him and the spirit and love of doing the best at what he loved to do. You will always be in my heart when i strive to equal or surpass your records.
    Stephen Lee Ethridge, a SLOW miler at Cazenovia Central High School, from which I am a 1962 graduate.
    P.S. My best mile was 4:58 and I placed 26 out of 96 in the New York State cross country meet at West Point in my senior year.

  11. Dale Campbell - March 15, 2017

    Met Ed one time – Syracuse 5K. As great a runner as the man was he was even a better person. A delight to be around as one would expect with his proper English up-bringing. He lived life to the fullest and was running well right up to the end. What more could a person ask for out of life!

  12. george haywood - March 17, 2017

    I am a sprinter and hurdler, but I am a fan of masters track in all its varied glory. So I was awe of Ed Whitlock even though I never had the pleasure of meeting him. The times he ran at the ages he ran them are beyond belief. I used to dazzle some of my marathoner friends by telling them that one of my fellow masters athletes ran a marathon in 2:54… AT AGE 70! If I was on the track to do an endurance workout and run 2 miles for time, I would shoot for 13:20. When it started to hurt bad (remember, I’m a sprinter), I would tell myself “There’s a seventy year old guy who can run 13 times this far at this pace, so stop complaining and keep running.” Ed Whitlock’s other-worldly accomplishments are a huge inspiration to all who love running. I am so saddened by our loss of this wonderful man.

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