After experiencing chest pain while out on a run Saturday, England’s Ron Hill decided to take a day off from running on Sunday.
That may seem like a logical choice, but it certainly was not an insignificant one. The decision by the champion of the 1970 Boston Marathon ended the longest recorded streak of running every day at 52 years and 39 days, or 19,033 days.
In a statement released by Streak Runners International, Hill, 78, who suffers from an undiagnosed heart problem, said that after less than 400 meters Saturday, “my heart started to hurt and over the last 800 meters, the problem got worse and worse. I thought I might die but just made it to one mile in 16 minutes and 34 seconds. There was no other option but to stop. I owed that to my wife, family and friends, plus myself.”
The end of the streak was announced on his Twitter account.
Streak runners must run at least a mile every day, and there are no days off. The Washington Post reports that Jon Sutherland, 66, of West Hills, Calif., now has the longest active streak at 17,417 days, or a little more than 47 1/2 years. Sutherland said that he has run despite 10 broken bones and two knee surgeries.
Hill’s streak started in 1964 after he was disappointed with his performance in the Tokyo Olympics. He won the 1970 Boston Marathon with a course record of 2:10:30, and became the second person to run a sub 2:10 marathon, with a personal best of 2:09:28.
There were several times he came close to not running, including in 1993 after a car accident left him with a broken sternum.
He chose Boston again when it was time to run his last marathon, finishing in 3:12:46 at the age of 57 on the 100th running of the Boston Marathon in 1996.
The Boston Athletic Association sent out a tweet congratulating Hill on his magnificent streak.
Follow Andrew Mahoney on Twitter @GlobeMahoney