We are sad to report that a club legend died last week. Mike Blagrove, who ran for Ealing Harriers during the 1950s and 60s, has passed away at the age of 82. He was the club’s first male GB international, competing in the European Championships and Empire Games in 1958.
In 1957, Mike played a pivotal role in Derek Ibbotson’s renowned 3:57.2 world record-setting race at White City. It was a stellar field, and Mike described his tactics in the following terms: “I set a hot pace to give Derek a better chance of winning from the great international field. That was achieved and it so happened that the world record went as well!” The first split was 55.3 and Mike was still leading with 1:55.8 at the 880 mark. The photo on the left shows Mike followed by Stanislav Jungwirth, Derek Ibbotson and Ron Delany.
You can also watch old footage of the race here.
Another of Mike’s claims to fame – as the first ‘4 minute miler’ in a literal sense – was again achieved with Derek Ibbotson. On 3rd September 1958 at White City, in a race won by Herb Elliott in the second fastest ever time of 3:55.4, Derek was fourth and Mike fifth – both given the same time of exactly 4:00.0.
Just weeks later, Mike and Derek were part of another world record when they ran a landmark 4 x One Mile relay in a time of 16:30.6. It was England against Finland at White City, and the other two team members were Peter Clark and Brian Hewson.
Mike was awarded a plaque by the club to commemorate his achievements during 1958, (see photo on the right), and his performances are still quoted by club members today. Some members still remember contact with him latterly as a physiotherapist, and Jean King offers this fond anecdote: “Mike always told you that he was the only physio with a hairy thumb pad! He had an awful motor accident and almost lost the use of his hand and thumb. He was given a skin graft from the back of his hand or arm. He also practiced reflexology and always ended up a physio session by massaging your feet. It was always a pleasure visiting him in his lovely Denham home”.
If anyone wishes to pay their last respects, his funeral will take place at Chiltern Crematorium, Amersham on Wednesday 15th June at 1:15pm.