written 13/12/2023, updated with tributes 26/01/2024
I’m sad to report the death of George Black at the age of 84.
George joined Valley Striders in 1988. He was given Life Membership for representing Scotland at the Home Nations vets cross country. He moved back to his native Scotland in 1999 and joined Fife A C., but retained second claim membership of Valley Striders and wore his V S vest when running in England.
Valley Striders were notified by a friend of his at Fife A C, Graham Bennison.
Here’s a link to an article on “Scottish Distance Running History” website
Tribute from Graham Bennison
No Sunday Run today as time to pay tribute to my close friend of 31 years George Black who passed away this Thursday 7th December aged 84.
I first met George back in 1991 when we both represented Scotland at the Home Countries Cross-Country International Race, he an over 55 and I an over 45. Later in 1999 ex Glasgow policeman Sgt Black moved with his family from Leeds to Kingskettle, Fife. He immediately contacted me and we commenced training together, George rapidly became close family!
George was very outspoken, and we argued and debated constantly. Having run for Scotland, George would rib me constantly re England football games. One of his most hilarious pranks was in 2016 at the Ravenscraig Park 2-mile race, England had just famously lost 2-1 to Iceland at the European Championships. I stepped forward at the presentation to receive my over 60 prize which suddenly appeared from behind a corner in an Iceland supermarket bag!
As many of you will know, George was a world-class veteran athlete winning many titles and setting age-group records in cycling, duathlon and athletics. His over 55 20-mile road race record of 1:58 lasted for 20 years or so and is still second on the UK over 55 list. In August 2021, George set an over 80 UK 20-mile record of 3:04.16.
A recent adventure was the Portobello Promethon on New Year’s Day over a 4-mile certified course. I drove us to the event in 2019 and he was determined to return in 2020 as 4-miles was actually a world record distance. That autumn 2019, George set to training with a vengeance including his famous 2-mile run out to Freuchie for a 20 x 400m session along a quiet side road, 2-mile run back, this all aside form long-distance road runs. New Year’s Day 2020 I drove us to Portobello and George not only broke but demolished the over 80 world record with 30 minutes 10 seconds,
We enjoyed many trips together, to Edinburgh, to Glasgow, this year was particularly busy. Early in 2023, George decided to get another dog and adopted a 15-month-old Staffie. We went to Errol car auctions to buy a vehicle with a large boot area, but he was still keeping his much-loved Jag. George loved the fields here around Foodieash and this new dog ‘Blue’, built like a tank, was soon introduced to walkies here at Foodie. George thought Black and Blue went well together.
This October, George enjoyed a holiday in Turkey, “Can you look after Blue for a week?” George’s week turned out to be nine days. Returning home, George announced that he was going to visit Cyprus at the end of November (his birthday). He said it might be the last holiday he ever had, but he always said that! He did have a serious incident whilst in Cyprus, but recovered within 24 hours. This past Tuesday, 5th December, George visited here for coffee and chat and 28-hours later, he has gone – it’s all been a massive shock. One could write a book re George’s athletic achievements, and we talked endlessly about the golden age of UK running.
George was always encouraging other athletes and if asked would pass on his advice on training and racing. He meticulously planned his own races and logged his training.
He was a much loved friend and I will miss him terribly.
From Eric Cusack
Very sad news, a charming man who was very dedicated to running. When I did some work at his house he told me there was a right and a wrong way of drinking whisky… Cheers George.
From Keith Cluderay
That is very sad .
A great bloke , who I had many a run and a drink with !
He held many age records that need adding to VS records.
He and Max Jones had great knowledge on how to train , for the not so young runners , when he joind VS he was totally unfit but helped by Max quickly improved and the results speak for themselves .
His Xmas card always had some good notes of what he had been up to and I will miss him greatly.
FYI George has left plans not to have a funeral , just an interment next to his Mum & Dad.
From Alan Hutchinson
George struck me as one of the most gritty determined runners I’d met and had a remarkable ability to keep achieving another great run in his later years. Sad to learn of his passing
From Paul White
Very sorry to hear about George, I got to know him when I joined Valley Striders in 1995. We had lots of conversations, some runs together and he gave me lots of useful advice.
From Tony Haygarth
Sad news. I first encountered him at a Barnsley 10k race in the 80’s where he sprinted past me at a ridiculous pace over the last 100 yards. It was always enjoyable but never easy running with him. His determination knew no bounds.
From Kathy Kaiser
Very sad to hear this, he was a very focused and dedicated person to running, when I knew him. He coached me and Ken round Lochaber marathon, it was an unexpectedly scorching day, he insisted we ran in the shade and provided water when we had run out.
A very special man xx
From Liz Ball
I bumped into him again several times in recent years, the last time at Stockton duathlon now discontinued. His determination and prowess were evident. Conversations instantly focused on technique and kit rather than the weather!
From Connie Cluderay
A lovely gentleman. I’m glad I had the opportunity to share some nice times with him and his lovely wife and kids (when they were little).
From Paul Furness
Incredibly sad news to hear that my old pal, George Black has passed away. I knew George for over 35 years. We had countless runs together when he lived in Leeds, he was an incredible athlete and a great friend.
Last August he invited me to visit him in Scotland. I took-up his offer the following month (25-29 September) when I drove the 250 miles from Leeds to Kingskettle, Fife. We had a brilliant week and I met several of his Scottish running friends.
His encouragement and training techniques were invaluable to me in my running career. It was George’s dedication which guided me to my PB in the 1990 London Marathon.
A true friend, I will miss our weekly WhatsApp messages.
From Keith Donnelly (a colleague of George)
Hello there. Having not received my usual Christmas card from George Black I began to think something was amiss. After googling his name I found your excellent obituary and, sadly news of his passing.
We both served in the Police. Me with the RUC before meeting George in Sainsbury’s following my retirement. George welcomed me into Sainsbury’s and aided my transition from Policing to “civvy street”. A true friend and colleague who will be sadly missed! Please convey my sincere condolences to the family circle and those who valued his friendship.