Written by David Sayer, photos taken from http://www.staneldon.co.uk/
Stanley Edward Eldon was born in the Royal Borough of Windsor on 1st May 1936. He grew up in Windsor in the Second World War, and during his time at Windsor County Boys’ School he started his athletics career, running 800 yards and cross-country races. After leaving school he joined the Berkshire Constabulary as one of its first police cadets before his National Service call-up where he served in the Royal Military Police and became Army 3 mile champion.
As a young runner from the age of sixteen years, he was ranked in the first three in the country at one mile, and by the time he was twenty years old had progressed to two World Best Performances for a junior at 3 and 6 miles.
After Military Service he rejoined the Berkshire Police as a constable where he further progressed his running career, including winning AAA Championships at both 3 and 6 miles, British records at 5 and 6 miles, as well as the 10,000 metres. He became one of Britain’s top distance runners winning the International Cross-Country title in 1958 (now known as the World Championships). He liked to run from the front and was once accused of cheating by a fellow athlete by running too fast at the start.
Stan ran at a time when competitors were amateurs – his season lasted 12 months and somehow he managed to combine working as a policeman with a punishing weekly training schedule, eventually reaching the top as an international athlete. Sleep was taken when and where possible, including standing up in a police box while on night duty, and on the luggage racks in trains while travelling to and from races.
In 1961 he left the police and was the first athlete to start a retail sports business in Reading under his own name, and ran a successful business for over twenty-five years, which included introducing the first specialist road running shoes in this country.
Along with the the local radio station 210, he set a challenge on air just before the Easter weekend in 1976 for Reading people to turn up in Prospect Park for a jog around the park. Surprisingly about 200 people turned up on the following Tuesday evening at 7 pm in their plimsolls ready for a run. The group continued to run for the rest of the year and some decided to meet on a regular basis – a year later they became Reading Joggers.
In 1983 he was instrumental in in setting up the Reading Half Marathon, which for many years was one of the largest and most successful events of its kind in the country. This ‘hobby’ eventually took over his life and more similar event organisation followed.
As you would expect from someone who false-started at the beginning of a marathon, Stan doesn’t like standing still for long. In more recent years he has worked tirelessly for charity becoming a champion of disabled sports and a proud Rotarian. On two occasions he ran 176 miles between Reading and Meru in France to raise money for charities connected to sport for disabled people, despite becoming diabetic before the second run
For many years he was involved with athletics through his weekly column in the Reading Evening Post until the paper closed in 2014.
Stan was awarded the MBE in 2008 for his work in setting up the Reading Half Marathon. He now lives in Didcot close to the parkrun route and keeps his interest in running through his son Jon who runs good age category times over many distances, sometimes winning outright.
Stan’s own running days are over but his illustrious running career is now part of athletic history – he was the best in British athletics.
For more information please see his website: http://www.staneldon.co.uk/
Stan running at White City in 1959
Stan and Marion Eldon’s Diamond Wedding Anniversary 2017