Former English National cross country champion has died aged 77

Tributes have been paid to former athlete and coach Gerry North who has died from cancer aged 77.

Having won gold at the English National Cross Country Championships as a junior in 1958, North went on to claim the senior title in 1962 and added a veteran victory in 1987 to his long list of achievements.

Gerry North AW 1962Following his senior win at the English Nationals – which saw him make the AW cover – he went on to place eighth at the International Cross Country Championships at Sheffield two weeks later, after falling heavily just after the start.

In 1975 Athletics Weekly ran a survey to decide Britain’s most consistent post-war cross country runner, with North coming out top ahead of Frank Sando and Mike Turner.

Born in Chester in 1936 North was a member of Blackpool and Fylde AC, Belgrave Harriers and City of Portsmouth AC during his long career, with his best times including 3:57.2 for 1500m, 14:06.1 for 5000m and 29:06.2 for 10,000m.

“Gerry was one of the all-time greats of cross-country running – a national champion as a junior, senior and veteran,” read a Belgrave tribute. “Always of a cheerful disposition, he lived for athletics and was one of those few people of whom one could truly say that nobody seemed to have a bad word to say about him.”

Later on in his career, North moved to Portsmouth where he took up coaching and organised many road events, including the Victory 5 Mile road race.

“It’s my life,” North said in an interview some seven years ago. “I am a person where athletics comes first.”

» Thanks to David Cocksedge for information. See next week’s Athletics Weekly for more on Gerry North and his incredible athletics career.