ONE of Hyde’s most iconic shops has shut its doors for the last time after almost 50 years on the high street or in this case Market Street.
Run North West, formerly Ron Hill Sports, is the latest casualty in the retail sector as it has left the town claiming it was losing money.
When the Hyde marathon running legend opened Ron Hill Sports at 148-150 Market Street in 1970, it was a rare specialist outlet for everybody from serious athletes to run runners.
After graduating from university with a PhD in textile chemistry, Hill was convinced of the benefits of synthetic materials for runners and Ron Hill Sports pioneered products like wrap-over shorts, mesh vests, waterproof running jackets and reflective strips
At its peak it had an annual turnover exceeding £6 million but Hill sold it in the early 1990s because of financial difficulties.
Since Hill’s sale, the sports shop has had several owners, the most recent Run North West which took it over in January 2018.
“We had a fairly busy store but sadly not enough to break even with the overheads of trading,” explained Andrew Whittingham, Run North West’s managing director.
The Hyde operation has been transferred to Run North West’s store at Wilmslow.
Correspondent editor Tony Bugby was a trainee reporter on the North Cheshire Herald, which was almost opposite Ron Hill Sports, in the 1970s.
It was at a time when Hill was still competing and he recalled reporting on his exploits.
He also remembered how business savvy Hill was in the day before sport was commercialised as it is today.
“When we went to the store to photograph Ron he would excuse himself, disappear into the back of the shop and reappear wearing a Ron Hill Sports T-shirt,” he said.
Hill, 81, became the second man to break 2hrs 10min in the marathon. He set world records at four other distances, but never the marathon which he ran at the 1964 and 1972 Olympic Games in Tokyo and Munich.
He won the Boston Marathon in 1970 in a course record of 2hrs 10min 30sec and gold medals in the marathon at the 1969 European Championships and 1970 Commonwealth Games.
Hill lays claim to the longest streak of consecutive days running, every day for 52 years and 39 days from 1964 to 2017.
Hill achieved his goal of racing in 100 countries before his 70th birthday with races in Panama and the Faroe Islands. His final marathon was the 100th Boston Marathon in 1996.
He completed 115 marathons, 112 under 2:50, 103 under 2:45 and 29 under 2:20. Hill recorded 21 marathon victories in his career, placing second 13 times, and third eight times.