Lives remembered: Ron Grover

PUBLISHED: 01:15 30 March 2010 | UPDATED: 16:59 20 February 2013

Ron Grover discusses training plans with former national 10km road running champion Lynn Williams in 2000

Ron Grover discusses training plans with former national 10km road running champion Lynn Williams in 2000

The Sussex running fraternity has lost one of its founding fathers. Ron Grover set up one of the county's leading clubs and some of its biggest events

A pioneer of athletics

Ron Grover, who died recently aged 73, was one of the leaders in the development of the fun run jogging boom of the 1970s and early 1980s.

He was the founder of the Arena 80 Athletic club and also organised the first few races of the Sussex Beacon half-marathon and was closely involved in the setting up of the Sussex Grand Prix for road runners.

Ron was a promising sprinter in his late teens and early twenties raced at White City and won many Sussex races as a junior as well as Regimental titles while on national service.

Several of the leading women he coached won national road running and national team titles. He was chairman of the Arena 80 club for almost 20 years.

In an article written for the Arena 80 website, he said he saw the need for coaching while running faster times in the Army.

These were vast improvements on my club competitive times and were solely due to good facilities and having a chance to be coached.

After leaving national service I concentrated on coaching because it was greatly needed at club level.

In particular, my area of work was with the female runner. There was very little coaching and training for the female distance runner and from that point I always specialised in their coaching and training at all levels from the fun runner right through to national and international athletes.

Both Rons children, Sharon and Neil were keen county sprinters with Neil competing at a senior level.

Sharon remembers her fathers total dedication to the sport and to improving access to it for everyone.

When he set up Arena 80, there were already two other athletics clubs in the Brighton area but they were for elite runners and he wanted a club for everyone.

He helped set up a veterans league, organised the first special Olympics at Withdean Stadium in the early 1980s and the first Sport Aid event, Race against Time, in Preston Park in 1986.

I remember when he organised the first half-marathons, he was up all hours with papers literally everywhere over his bedroom at home.

The Sport Aid event was one of 274 simultaneous 10km events run at the same time (1500 GMT) around the globe. The Brighton event raised more than 35,000 in donations on the day alone.

Ron lived with his partner Carol Wilson at their home near Peacehaven. They met when Carol joined the Arena 80 club.

She said: I was the first member. I had never put a pair of trainers on and I got involved in running and ended up doing a number of marathons.

I dont think people realised how much Ron did for charities as wellas running.

Outside of athletics, Ron later developed an interest in photography and was a member of the Rottingdean Photography Club and won local awards for his pictures.

After leaving the REME at the end of his national service he worked at a number of engineering firms before setting up a pine furniture business in Hove. He also worked for a number of years at a day centre for the mentally handicapped at St Marys Convent in Portslade.

Sharon said that her father had touched many lives for the better and had invested his life in athletics.

Lives Remembered

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