Heroes of Running 2008 - Winners

Join us in recognising the outstanding individuals who make us exceptionally proud of our sport

Posted: 23 April 2008

Every year at Runner's World, we come across people who achieve amazing things and who use running as a force of change, in their own lives and in the lives of others. Go to any running event in the UK and you'll find them. They are the beginners who cross a finish line for the first time. They are the veterans whose commitment to the sport never wavers, year after year. They are the people who defy limitations and exceed expectations. They show us how with the simple act of moving forward we can shape each other, our sport and our world.

Our Heroes of Running Awards were launched to honour these remarkable individuals, not only for the heroics they've demonstrated but also the future heroes they'll inspire. Hundreds of you got in touch with your nominations across all seven categories, and we're delighted to introduce our extraordinary winners.

The Jane Tomlinson Inspiration Award
Mick and Phil Curry

If you ever needed a pep talk, you could do worse than have a chat to Mick Curry. Along with his son Phil, Mick has completed 278 races since 2002, including 27 full marathons and 162 half-marathons.

Mick and Phil wouldn’t run without each other, but this is no ordinary partnership: Phil has severe physical and mental disabilities and is completely reliant on his parents for round-the-clock care, so Mick pushes Phil around races – no mean feat considering Phil is now a young adult.

Running has given Mick and Phil – and Phil’s mother Dawn – a new lease of life, but in return they’ve given back so much support, friendship and awe-inspiring guts to the sport, motivating the thousands of runners they meet both at races and on the runnersworld.co.uk forums.

The Fundraiser
Eric Hardwick

Eric Hardwick is not your average charity fundraiser. After taking part in the 1982 London Marathon, he was inspired to start his own event to raise money for needy causes, on the rolling hills and streets of his hometown.

Two years later, the Hastings Half-Marathon was born. The toughness of the hills and unpredictability of the coastal winds left some dubious about the event’s longevity. But this popular race has been a success on every front, and has raised over three million pounds for charity over the past 24 years.

There have been bumpy times along the way, but Hardwick remains the event’s volunteer race director, and with his innovative ideas this race continues to prosper and flourish to the benefit of hundreds of local and national charities.

The Mentor
Pauline Beare

The growth of women’s running, one of the biggest sea changes in our sport over the past decade, is a complex phenomenon. There is no question, however, that a few significant seeds of that growth were planted in Devon in 1998, the year Pauline Beare co-founded the Women’s Running Network (along with Peggy Wiseman) with the goal of inspiring women of all ages to run.

The idea struck a cord, and from a handful of members based in Exeter, the network has grown into the largest group of women-only running clubs in the UK. Beare’s passion and enthusiasm have been responsible for launching thousands of running careers.

"Its success," says Beare, "is based on a simple philosophy: living all women, whatever their age, size or ability, the opportunity to run together to improve their health, confidence and safety."

The Rising Star
Steph Twell

The past 12 months have seen Steph Twell become the very first woman to win two successive European junior cross-country titles, eclipse Zola Budd’s 23-year U-17 1500m record and even give Kenyan seniors a run for their money, all of which leave few in doubt that this 18-year-old’s star is well and truly in the ascendance.

An inspiration to runners of all ages, Twell – who is already being lauded the long-term successor to Paula Radcliffe’s distance-running crown – is a shining role model for the next generation of Britain’s young athletes. "It’s not just her natural talent but also her attitude and personality that enable her to be able to do that," explains Twell’s coach, Mick Woods.

As well as being a talented athlete, Twell is studying Strength and Conditioning Science at St Mary’s University in Twickenham. This July, the Aldershot runner will compete at the World Junior Championships in Poland, most likely her final foray as a junior.

The Survivor
Keith Passingham

Eight years ago, dedicated club runner Keith Passingham was diagnosed with bowel cancer. Where some might have buckled under after such a crushing blow, Passingham, now 56, got ready for battle. He endured the lengthy and exhausting treatment with characteristic determination; in his favour was his long-standing commitment to running.

When he finally beat cancer, his doctors said they believed his recovery was partly down to the fitness he built up during the years doing the sport he loved. But not content with that significant achievement, Passingham, from Rayleigh in Essex, went on to establish a Southend-based running group that has now been going for over six years, and which has introduced many newcomers to the joy of running.

A veteran of several Flora London Marathons, Keith is a shining example to everyone connected to him. As one of his advocates says: "Keith has inspired so many people in so many ways."

The Ambassador
Richard Nerurkar MBE

As an elite athlete, Richard Nerurkar achieved considerable success: his victory in the 1993 World Marathon Cup remains a recent highlight of British men’s marathon running, and his 2:08:36 at the 1997 London Marathon was the last time a Brit broke 2:09.

But it’s undoubtedly in his role as co-founder of the Great Ethiopian Run that Nerurkar has made his greatest strides in and for our sport. Few people can claim to have taken running to so many. Established in 2001 as a platform for the improvement of life for Ethiopia’s people, the Great Ethiopian Run not only gave people a chance to take part in the country’s unofficial national sport, it also provided a platform to highlight crucial health messages.

With Nerurkar at the helm, the event has become Africa’s biggest road race, attracting over 20,000 participants and spawning numerous other mass-participation events that have been staged throughout Ethiopia.

The Veteran
Ron Hill

Ron Hill is the model running veteran. As an elite runner, he inspired runners everywhere with his achievements in the sport, which include representing Great Britain at three Olympic Games, becoming the first Briton to run under 2:10 in the marathon (2:09:28), and gold medals at the Commonwealth Games and European Championships. But Hill continues to inspire long into retirement.

Amazingly, the 69-year-old founder of Ronhill and Hilly clothing companies has run every single day of his life since December 20th 1964 – even running around a hospital ward with a broken sternum after a car crash. And he shows no sign of hanging up his running shoes any time soon, still running 30 miles a week.

By the time his 70th birthday comes around in September, Hill hopes to have competed in races in 100 different countries.

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Discuss this article


Just so proud

and so tearful now !!


Posted: 23/04/2008 at 19:43

Well done guys!!!!!

We are proud of you two

Posted: 23/04/2008 at 20:42

Posted: 23/04/2008 at 21:12

Enjoy it both of you, you deserve to bask in the sun.
Posted: 23/04/2008 at 21:24

Well done guys - some great company there you are in.
Posted: 23/04/2008 at 22:07

Posted: 24/04/2008 at 08:41


It's a good job Phil is there to keep you on the straight and narrow!

You're top blokes

Posted: 24/04/2008 at 08:45

Easy Easy Easy

Was great to see you go by 17 miles at FLM - finally!!!  There was many a tear shed...

Well done!!!

Posted: 24/04/2008 at 09:03

You deserve it for the inspiration you give to the rest of us.

Lots of love

Posted: 24/04/2008 at 09:16

Well done guys - some great company those other runners are in.
Posted: 24/04/2008 at 09:20

About time your great inspiration to others has paid of.. Missed you at FLM      (just for once I was in front of you)    but will catch up with you somewhere soon........  well done to you both.......
Posted: 24/04/2008 at 09:20

Posted: 24/04/2008 at 09:21

Fantastic, big well done and well deserved
Posted: 24/04/2008 at 09:34

Fantastic Mick n Phil well done!  Last saw you at Stevenage and look forward to seeing you again soon - maybe FLM next year?
Posted: 24/04/2008 at 09:35

Truly inspirational...ineffable

btw I'm a Curry too!

Posted: 24/04/2008 at 09:55


 oh yah - where's that , where do you stem from ! 

Posted: 24/04/2008 at 13:01

My Dad was a 'geordie'
Posted: 24/04/2008 at 13:08

Congratulations Mick n Phil, you guys are incredible! Hope to see you both at a race soon.
Posted: 24/04/2008 at 14:09

Mick / Phil

You really desrve this.

Mick - you really are everyting that is good in the Human Race - your dedication to your family should be held up as an example to everyone on family values. I salute you sir

Keep on running the pair of you

Posted: 24/04/2008 at 14:28

Well done boys, what a turn around from a month or so ago eh..

Just keep on doing what you do

Posted: 24/04/2008 at 14:29

Big congrats and hugs to you Mick n Phil!
Posted: 24/04/2008 at 14:29

Well done both of you ... when are we going to have you on the front of the RW mag?

Posted: 24/04/2008 at 16:40

Well done Mick and Phil - you REALLY deserve this.

 love the picture on the front page of the fetch website too!

Posted: 24/04/2008 at 17:38

You more than deserve this.

Keep inspiring and humbling  us.

Posted: 24/04/2008 at 18:20

well deserved...........easy easy easy!...........
Posted: 25/04/2008 at 13:35

 Top guys, thanks for the pass of the water at 16 @ FLM 08 see you again at another this year ....

Posted: 26/04/2008 at 06:57

Hi Mick - Justly deserved - You've certainly inspired me on many occasions.

I lost your email address  when my computer died - I have just emerged from 4 months hibernation.    Please drop me a line.

The last time we met was my last race!

Posted: 26/04/2008 at 09:12

Mr happy, where the HELL have you been
Posted: 26/04/2008 at 09:13

Hi Happy

so good to hear from you

hoping your well

Posted: 26/04/2008 at 09:55

CONGRATULATIONS, you both  truly deserve  this award!

Posted: 26/04/2008 at 15:38

well done brilliant you deserve it, I shouted at you both from baggage lorry Number 27 but you were both so tired. You helped me keep going at Pewsey Half August 2007 keep in there boys your great
Posted: 26/04/2008 at 18:29

Well done Mick n Phil. Last saw you at Buntingford - we exchanged a few pleasantries before you whizzed off into the distance!  You were an inspiration then and continue to be so in all your races.  Mick, your love and devotion to Phil humbles us all, Mrs Mick must be so proud of you. All us 'ordinary' runners love, respect and admire you both. We demand that you're on the front cover of Runner's World!!

Posted: 26/04/2008 at 22:27

Our 29 th Full Marathon

Sunday 27 April- we celebrated 6 years together on the road-

It was our 29 th Full marathon, - 280 th race in total

What a 6 years it's been - conqueing races all over the UK

what a month of April 2008 it's been- one to remember with much pride and joy -

April 10 - ( Winners of Runners World ) Jane Tomlinson Inspiration Awards ( UK Heroes of Running )

April 11 - phone call from Flora London Marathon - giving us just 36 hours notice to get there to compete, what a day it was - i shall remember it for the REST of my LIFE

Then of course

April 27- Shakespeare Marathon - in 5.01 - our day to remember proudly in style of 6 years together on the road, we conquered Britain proudly

The organisers gave us a send off to be proud of, though sadly we never lived up to our expectations- the road was hard and long, and it gone harder - we clocked an ok 5 hours 1 minute

i was in desperate trouble fluid wise, could'nt get the fluid fast enough, i'm sure my levels dropped

I really knew from 6 miles on wards that it was going to be a long haul - needing me to dig fairly deep in to my physcologial stamina box - though we survived - proudly suvived - it was our 4 th Full marathon this year

But the support from fellow runners and spectators was simply fantastic

Just goes to show, what i've always said, and i'll always maintain- there's no room for complecancy in the marathon

we are very happy, but i'm also extremely sore and tired - Phillip really did feel top heavy - there was and is no getting away from it

Even with all my vast experience and skill - it was a battle,

But having said that- Like Draycote it can do you good

I'll rest now with Half Marathons and 10k's for a while

Posted: 27/04/2008 at 19:51

Congratulations Mick n Phil- this is truely well deserved! And so excited that you finally got your FLM debut, that really has been a long time coming!!!
Posted: 28/04/2008 at 06:45


I have enjoyed our brief encounters at Leicester and Watford amongst one or two others....

Well done indeed. 

Posted: 28/04/2008 at 21:47

Congratulations on winning the Jane Tomlinson Heroes Award. It was a pleasure to meet you both at the Imperial War Museum on 10th April. The infectious delight and happiness that you both showed was fantastic.

Congratulations too on finally getting into FLM - it is about time that they came to their senses!

 I wish you both well in the future.

Posted: 29/04/2008 at 14:34

Big Heartfelt congratulations Mick + Phil.

What can I say, you turned your world of adversity in to an Award Winning Positive!

I share the sentiments of all those who have given you applause and appreciation. 

If I had my way, you would also get a CBE, OBE even a Knighthood, why not, there's none more deserving!

Good on you both!! 


Posted: 29/04/2008 at 15:22

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