A Running Great Passes: Mike Turner (1939-2017)

Friday, January 13th, 2017

We are sad to report that Mike Turner, president of the Hare & Hounds from 1976-2006, passed away peacefully in the early hours of Saturday morning. Hailed as ‘one of the greats of Cambridge running’ by current club president Joan Lasenby, Mike’s legacy also entails excellence as an international athlete and major involvement in British Athletics.

His involvement with the Hare & Hounds as an undergraduate student saw him join an array of notable athletes to dominate the Varsity Match in the late 1950s and early 60s. Running alongside the great Herb Elliott (then the 1500m and Mile world record holder), and others who were to gain international recognition such as Tim Johnson, Tim Briault, Martin Heath and Bruce Tulloh, Cambridge dominated the match against Oxford with five consecutive wins between 1959 to 1963. Within this golden era for the club, Mike stood out with two individual Varsity Cross Country victories in 1961 and 1962. He went on to gain international recognition throughout his twenties that saw him captain England in the 1969 International Cross Country Championships in Clydebank, Scotland. It is a testament to his ability as an elite athlete that Ron Hill, European and Commonwealth Marathon Gold Medallist, described his greatest achievement as just beating Mike in the 1966 National Cross Country in one of the most exciting sprint finishes the event has seen. Mike’s personal bests (13:52 for 5000m and 28:33 for 10,000m) speak for themselves.

In spite of such brilliance, Mike was first and foremost an academic. He gained a PhD and was a fellow at Peterhouse from 1989-2006. His recognition as an athlete never faded with age as he went on to achieve the British record for 5000m in the veteran (‘Masters’) age category in June 1979 before winning the national titles a month later in the Master’s 1500m and 5000m. Alongside his career as a lecturer, he supported British Athletics as a team manager with the 1988 Seoul Olympic team and writing the ‘Turner Report’, defining the way British Athletics should be organised. His enthusiasm for running and the outdoors spanned his whole lifetime as he continued to run marathons beyond the age of 65 and later enjoyed walking early each morning.

Our thoughts and condolences are with his family and friends at this time.