Ed Whitlock

Photo: Matt Stetson.

Canadian Running is saddened to announce that Ed Whitlock has passed away at 86.

Whitlock was one of the world’s all-time great runners as he set dozens of masters world records during his lengthy and illustrious running career.

Whitlock has two sons, Neil and Clive. He is survived by his wife Brenda and his sister Catherine. Whitlock passed away at 4 a.m. EDT early Monday morning at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto. He died from prostate cancer. He had turned 86 on March 6.

The Canadian running legend is notably the first, and only, person older than 70 to have broken 3:00 in the marathon. He ran 2:54:49 when he was 73.

He raced in November 2016 setting a 15K world record for men 85-89 at the Stockade-athon 15K Road Race. Prior to that, he bettered the men’s 85-89 world record in the marathon by more than 30 minutes running 3:56 at the 2016 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon last October. His final race came on Dec. 10 at London’s Richmond Park running a 7.67-mile event with his famed club, the Ranelagh Harriers.

“The most modest, droll, amiable and intelligent of all miraculous legends,” famed running historian and author Roger Robinson said describing Whitlock after the 15K in Schenectady, N.Y.

RELATED: Canadian Running‘s feature story on Ed Whitlock as seen in the January/February 2017 issue of the magazine.

It’s believed that Whitlock had not done much running in 2017 as he was nursing a shoulder injury.

Whitlock was born in London in 1931. He grew up in England and immigrated to Canada following college graduation. He resided in Milton, Ont. and famously put in his training at the Evergreen Cemetery, located steps from his home.

Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon

Whitlock on the 2016 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon course, on his way to crushing the 85+ world record. Photo: Canada Running Series.

Alan Brookes, founder of Canada Running Series and race director of the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, called Whitlock’s passing “an enormous loss to Canada and the global running community.”

“Somehow we thought Ed would just go on setting records forever,” Brookes said on Monday in a press release. “We grew up with Ed. He won many of his 20-plus-year-old shoes at our Series’ races in the ’90s and, in many ways, he defined our Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. He will always be a vital part of the identity and spirit of that race.”

The Greatest: A visit to Ed Whitlock’s training grounds

Whitlock’s world records inspired millions of runners of all ages, and attracted attention to running from all around the world. His most recent marathon world record was one of the most talked about performances of 2016, which is especially impressive given that it was an Olympic year.

Ed Whitlock

Photo: Adam Wojtkowiak.

Age-graded, many of Whitlock’s marathon performances would have ranked among the greatest performances of all time. His 3:56:33 men’s 85-89 record last fall in Toronto is the equivalent of 2:08:57, which would have placed him second overall against some of the fastest runners in the world. His 70-and-over world record converts to a 2:00:18. The world record currently stands at 2:02:57.

Whitlock was famously modest and understated about his accolades. When asked about being celebrated around the world, Whitlock said “I don’t believe I should be a hero.” When asked what advice he had for other runners, he mused “I’m not sure what I’m doing is good for me, let alone anyone else.”

RELATED: Runners remember Ed Whitlock.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story stated that Whitlock ran his final race in New York. However, it’s believed that his last race came in England at the Mob Match Ranelagh vs. South London Harriers event on Dec. 10. He ran 1:10:37 for 7.67 miles (12.34K) at London’s Richmond Park.


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50 Comments

  • From one long time runner to another, it’s been a pleasure to see accolades come not just for speed, but longevity. Ed had it in spades, and his presence in southern Ontario road race results goes back too far to find when he *didn’t participate.

    RIP, and may we all run a few steps in his memory.

  • Lynda D'ARGENSIO says:

    RIP Ed my inspiration ?

  • Ian Cordner says:

    RIP old friend……we miss you already!

  • SteveC says:

    RIP Ed and my sympathies to his family. I have been following Ed’s accomplishments for years and he is truly an inspiration.

  • Susan Gordon says:

    Deepest condolences to Ed’s family. A great loss for the Canadian running community. I’ve loved reading the stories about Ed and am truly inspired by his humble approach and wonderful attitude. He has earned his wings 🙂

  • Such terrible news. My best running friends and I will do a memorial run around Evergreen Cemetery in your honour, RIP Ed.

  • Joe Burke says:

    RIP Ed , enjoyed meeting & running with you. I will never forget how humble you were ,a great inspiration for me.

  • Andrew says:

    My inspiration too. Kept me running to this day. In my 73rd year. No more around the bay or marathons but still running.

  • Colleen Vercouteren says:

    He has achieved immortality now…if you keep Ed in your heart and in your memories….he lives forever…he will in my heart…and my husband’s heart…who ran the Cabot Trail with Ed…run free…run strong….

  • Gord Muirhead says:

    I’m in shock! I, like many, thought he would run forever. I have marveled at his accomplishments for years and also had the privilege of being in many of the same races. RIP Mr. Whitlock…a life well run.

  • Jim Li says:

    True inspiration. RIP.

  • Teresa says:

    R.I.P. You were an icon in the cemetary behind my house. What an amazing man you were.

  • Caroline Wiebe says:

    My sincere condolonces to his family and friends

  • Philip says:

    Sub 2:55 at age 73 is maybe the greatest athletic achievement ever and the most underrated. Sad to see him go so young.

  • Michael Cuttler says:

    I am 73 years old and a runner.Ed Whitlock has inspired me to not to make age a barrier in my pursuit of runnlng.

  • Rick Otani says:

    You inspired millions to lace them up, especially me

  • Debbie Haggart says:

    RIP. What an inspiration he was!

  • Reita says:

    Indeed sad news to hear of this news. Absolutely an inspiration. I will thinking of Ed and honouring him during my London Marathon in April.

    • Michael Peace says:

      Me too Reita. Like so many of us ‘shocked’ at the news. I will remember Ed every step of the way in London this year. A true gentlemean – I ran with him in the Mob Match, Richmond Park just before Christmas – then spent an unforgetable evening listening to his life story – great fun.
      Mike Peace – London Marathon EP and Past President of Ranelagh Harriers

  • Pat Engelhart says:

    An incredible athlete; just to complete a marathon in your 70’s or 80’s is amazing enough- but some of his times are truly mind boggling. At the age of 76, Ed set a world age record at Rotterdam in 3:04 on a day so hot that they actually stopped the Marathon! A great ambassador for running and sport in general.

  • JoeB says:

    The kind of man (and runner) I want to be when (if?) I grow up.

  • Ronnie says:

    A true legend, he will be missed but NEVER forgotten. RIP.

  • Jeff says:

    RIP – Never met him but was an inspiration to me, especially on cold, hard running days.

  • Norm Daigle says:

    I had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with Ed at the Cabot Trail Relay Run a few years ago and I was truly amazed and inspired by him. What a great role model he has been and always will be! My condolences to his family and friends.

  • earl shaw says:

    In 1976 when we were both in our mid forties, I was able to knock 15 secs off my high school 800M time trying to follow him and he still finished 10 secs ahead. Good memory. Thank you Ed.

  • alex M says:

    A great guy first and runner second. A true inspiration. You are already sadly missed Ed. RIP.

  • Mo Ng says:

    I ran the Toronto marathon 2016 albeit a terrible race for me but was honoured to have been in the same race as Ed. RIP Ed a fellow runnet

  • pete says:

    Keep running Ed! No stopping you now! Thank You!

  • Murray Cass says:

    I was fortunate to have seen Ed streak by me near the finish of the 2016 Scotia Waterfront marathon. Sub-4 at 85. That’s something I’ll always remember. RIP Ed.

  • Steve Youdowitch says:

    RIP buddy… It was an honour and pleasure running with you on many occasions but the one I remember in particular was running the Scotia Bank Marathon and being on pace for a 3:20 marathon when I see Ed sailing by me wishing me a strong run… I was in my 30’s and Ed was in his 70’s… What an amazing human being… You will be greatly missed but your spirit will be long remembered running through the Milton and your favorited routes…my condolences to the Whitlock family! Steve

  • Sandra says:

    I have loved reading about Ed’s amazing tenacity & modest style; so sad to hear of his passing. My deepest sympathy to his family.

  • Robert Lacasse says:

    RIP Ed, I ran my first marathon at the Toronto Waterfront in 2013. In the last 500 meters, I was running with great pain triing to reach the finish line then I saw that gentlemen Ed. He inspired me till the end, pain was gone! Thank you Ed.

  • Erin says:

    Pleasure to run alongside you for a bit during this year’s Stockadeathon! Rest easy.

  • Dee Roc says:

    I was in my early to late 30’s and would run into him quite often, and he kicked my ass a number of times. And like they say here, very modest, gracious, a true sportman. Very sad to hear about this. I’m not 60 yet, but hope I can get off my lazy ass and emulate him, just a wee bit! :(……..

  • Walt Murphy says:

    Rest In Peace Ed – you are a legend and an inspiration to all!!

  • ed rose says:

    Always an inspiration to all runner, especially masters runner, he will be missed

  • MJ says:

    A tremendous role model and icon for an aging runner like myself. I will miss reading about your many successes. RIP

  • Peggy says:

    I guess I thought he would just keep running forever!
    Ed Whitlock will always be my inspiration, he will be missed

  • Doug deJong says:

    A true Canadian icon. I never met Ed, but certainly was familiar with his many accomplishments. An overwhelming inspiration for this Master’s marathoner.

  • What an amazing athlete and human being. RIP young man.

  • Dean Foster says:

    R.I.P we the runners of Ontario are deeply saddened i will miss his advice and his presence at my next race

  • The running world will dearly miss you, Ed! I hold fond memories of racing with you at an indoor meet at the old Montreal Forum and our runs on Mont Royal. I’ll miss you at this year’s run in Williamstown, Ontario.

  • William Huggett says:

    Rest in Peace my friend. You will be sadly missed.

  • BRIAN CHARD says:

    It was with a great sense of loss that I read of Ed’s passing. As a past President of Ed’s UK running club, Ranelagh Harriers, i was fortunate to be able to present him with an award for his fantastic achievements over the years during one of his trips back to Richmond. Ed was an amazing athlete and its very sad that he is no longer with us. All in the UK extend our condolences to all that knew him and send our regards to his adopted homeland of Canada.

  • Cheryl Martin says:

    Rest in peace Ed. I never had the pleasure to meet you but you were among great conversations of inspiration by the running group I am part of. Watching videos, hearing stories from friends who have met you and seeing picture really warms my heart in aww of you. The running world is truly saddened by your loss. Thoughts and prayer to your family….may you find comfort in the love and support of many.

  • Michael Peace says:

    ‘ I’m not sure what I’m doing is good for me, let alone anyone else ‘. Thanks Ed. I’ll just carry on doing it anyway for fun.
    R.I.P. Remembered In Person, Run In Perpetuity, Rest In Peace.

  • Tom Reinmueller says:

    Ed and I ran for a couple of seasons in the same track club back in the 80’s in Montreal..The West Island Striders…I was half his age..I remember him ever so slowly passing me in a 20k around the 15k mark..I remember saying to myself that I hope I can run like that when I hit 55! RIP Ed..youve inspired many …..including myself to keep on running to the end!

  • ranjitkumar dasaundhi says:

    i am very sock to news read in death in last day.but iam not bleve .great runner in the wrold.

  • Debaetss Corinne says:

    R.I.P Ed. I will never forget meeting you. In 2011 we met during the WC in Sacramento. You were verry kind to me by offering me a lift to the track. Learning about your death struck me like thunder.

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