Leading distance runner

Born: May 9, 1947

Died: October 15, 2019

EDDIE Knox, who had died aged 72, was one of Scotland’s leading distance runners who competed successfully on the track, in road races and at cross country, collecting numerous honours while helping keep his club Springburn Harriers to the fore in Scottish running.

He particularly excelled as a junior athlete, the highpoint coming in 1967 at Barry in Wales when he won the Junior International Cross Country Union title, having secured a bronze medal in the previous year’s event in Rabat, Morocco.

As a youth and junior he won national titles on the track and over the country and represented Scotland several times at junior and senior level at cross country here and abroad. He also figured prominently in countless road races including, among others, the iconic Edinburgh to Glasgow relay and appeared in the national track ranking lists for many years at various distances between one and six miles.

Schoolmate Harry Gormley persuaded a young Eddie to attend training at Springburn Harriers where coaching from Eddie Sinclair set him on the path to success and fired his lifelong enthusiasm for running. He first came to prominence in 1964 winning the National Youth cross country title by a convincing margin while on the track in summer he claimed the Scottish Youths’ one mile championship.

The following year he retained his cross country title leading to selection for the International Championship in Ostend, Belgium where he finished a creditable fifth. In 1966 on the track he clinched the Scottish Junior mile title and a year later won the National Junior cross country title, pipping Alistair Blamire on the line in an exciting finish at Hamilton racecourse.

He won his international title in Barry three weeks afterwards over a five-mile course from a field of 33 runners, pulling ahead with a Belgian athlete 400 yards from home, finally outpacing his rival over the last 50 yards. Third was Brooks Mileson, subsequently a millionaire businessman better known as the ill-fated owner of Gretna F.C. On the track in summer in his debut season as senior, he won bronze in the Scottish Championships three miles behind Lachie Stewart.

His first senior representative honour came in November 1965 when he was chosen for a Scottish select to run against the Army. Two months later he made his debut for Scotland in a senior international race in San Sebastian, Spain involving seven countries, finishing 20th in a large field.

Over the next six years he represented Scotland several times in races in Spain and Belgium, as well as further appearances for the Scottish select team here against the Army, Scottish Universities and Northern Counties.

He continued competing well till the mid 70s after which he ran recreationally including the Glasgow Marathon twice in the 1980s.

An outstanding junior his anticipated progress as senior was hampered by a hip injury requiring surgery. Always a committed competitor, his training regime was arduous, the cover of his diary expressing his mantra, "To feel tired is not to be tired.”

Edward Knox was born in Glasgow, the third of four sons of George and Eda nee Moffatt. With brothers George, Eric, and Chris he was brought up in Milton, attending Chirnside primary school before Possil Secondary.

His father was a compositor but died when Eddie was aged eight requiring his mother to combine work as a debt collector for Provident Insurance with raising a young family.

Although these were testing times Eddie enjoyed a happy childhood and liked to joke that his poor timekeeping developed his running talent as he sprinted to school to avoid the belt for latecomers.

Leaving school aged 15 he followed in his father’s footsteps undertaking an apprenticeship in typesetting and compositing with Collins Publishing where his love of books was kindled. At about the same time his running trips abroad were a tremendous experience for him particularly given his background and fed his natural curiosity about the wider world.

Once qualified he worked for several newspapers including the Glasgow Herald but foreseeing the impact of digital technology and increasing automation in the printing trade he made a career switch in the late ‘70s to leisure centre management, becoming area manager of Monklands Sport and Leisure Facilities.

In 1972 he married Karen McGovern from Dennistoun having met at The Elizabethan Dance Hall and the couple enjoyed many happy years together during which they had a son, Andy. Initially living in Possilpark, they moved to Dennistoun and then Kelvindale where they remained.

Some years ago they bought land near Gairloch and Eddie, by now retired, spent the next 12 years as ‘project manager’ building a house in a wonderful location, despite a lack of any previous experience. They both enjoyed the north of Scotland and travel generally, going twice to America to enjoy meeting the family of Andy’s wife, Kelly. Italy was another favourite venue, especially Palermo and Milan, Eddie having studied Italian at night classes.

A big character, Eddie held firm views, had a wide range of interests including photography, politics and tennis, and was excellent company with an infectious sense of humour. He is survived by his wife, son and daughter in law.