Geoff Harrold, marathon runner and sportswriter

No sooner did the British Athletics Writers’ Association post its tribute to Martin Webster than sad news reached the Association of the death of another former colleague, Geoff Harrold.

Harrold was a distance runner of some accomplishment – his marathon best time of 2hr 22min 36sec was set in 1973 – whose journalistic training saw him working on IPC business titles in Blackfriars before, during the “running boom” after the first London Marathon 30 years ago, he took on the editorship of a specialist monthly title, Marathon & Distance Runner.

Underresourced and with an editorial line that aimed the magazine squarely at “serious” road and cross-country runners, rather than the new-breed joggers – where the circulation and advertising money lay – M&DR, while admired by the aficionados for its lengthy and intense features and lack of ads, was never a commercial success.

More recently, Harrold found a role working in the press office for several years at the London Marathon, where his knowledge and insight in the sport was invaluable.

“Geoff was a gifted designer and editor who, as part of the key team, helped in the renaissance of the London Marathon in the late 90s,” Andrew Torr, the print and publications manager at the Virgin London Marathon, said.

“Geoff didn’t seem to age. Some were convinced he had an early 1980s portrait of himself winning a six-stage road relay stashed in the attic.

“He was a talented illustrator for all the publications he worked on and eventually realised a lifelong ambition when, in his 60s, he published the graphic novel Code Name NOD,” Torr said.

“Kind and gracious, if Geoff had a fault it is that his generosity of spirit and his quiet, easygoing charm lead to his capacity and commitment being taken for granted.”

Harrold, born in May 1939, continued competing right in to his 60s, even winning the Southern veterans’ cross-country title, as well as coaching and managing teams at his lifetime club, Enfield Harriers.

But last year Harrold suffered a serious stroke and required constant care thereafter until he passed peacefully last Friday.

Geoff leaves a daughter, Jenny from his brief marriage to Rosemary Cox.

The BAWA and SJA sends its condolences at this sad time to Geoff Harrold’s family and friends.