Wednesday 17 January 2018

Obituary: Andy Holden

British athlete whose love of real ale did nothing to stop him from winning races

MARATHON MAN: Andy Holden (centre) chasing Dave Bedford (right) and Jack Lane (left)
MARATHON MAN: Andy Holden (centre) chasing Dave Bedford (right) and Jack Lane (left)

Andy Holden, who has died aged 65, was a UK record holder for the 3,000m steeplechase and an athlete of remarkable versatility, achieving the unique feat of representing Great Britain in five distance running disciplines: roads, cross-country, fells, and indoors and outdoors on track.

In an era when the enthusiastic amateur could still excel in athletics, Holden -- a dentist by profession -- managed to compete at the highest level without sacrificing his passion for real ale. He reputedly drank 10 pints of beer the night before winning the Bermuda marathon in 1979, a race which saw him break Ron Hill's course record and beat a world-class field that included Charlie Spedding, who would take the bronze medal in the marathon at the Los Angeles Olympics five years later.

John Andrew Holden was born on October 22, 1948, at Leyland, Lancashire, and showed exceptional ability as an athlete from a young age. He studied dentistry at Birmingham University and, after qualifying, remained in the West Midlands, eventually setting up his own practice.

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