Birmingham & Black Country

Winner of first English 'marathon' Jack Price honoured

Jack Price running with cyclists Image copyright Micky Whitehouse
Image caption Jack Price raced in the 1908 London Olympics

An Olympian who won England's first ever "marathon" has been honoured with a blue plaque after a 20-year campaign.

Jack Price raced in the 1908 London Olympics before founding an athletics club still in existence today.

The runner, who died in 1965, has now been commemorated in his home town of Halesowen, West Midlands, following a campaign by his family.

Grandson Micky Whitehouse, 74, said: "It has been my sole ambition to get him recognised."

Born in 1884, Jack grew up in Shropshire but aged 17, walked 40 miles to Halesowen to find employment, landing a job at steelworks Stewarts & Lloyds.

"But he never stopped running," Mr Whitehouse, said.

"On a Sunday he'd run all the way to Shropshire to have breakfast with his mum and then get up and run back and have lunch with his family in Halesowen."

Image copyright Micky Whitehouse
Image caption The runner also won the Edinburgh Powderhall Marathon in 1908

In 1908, trials for the Olympics were held and Jack took part in the Midlands heats from Coventry to West Bromwich - a distance of 25.5 miles.

"This was the first marathon held in England," said Bob Fowks, vice chairman of Halesowen Athletics Club.

"They altered the distance later so the royal family could see the finishing line."

Image copyright Whitehouse family
Image caption The runner was presented with this cup for winning the first English marathon

Jack won in two hours, thirty-seven minutes and 13 seconds and was chosen for the 12-man United Kingdom team for the Olympic marathon, but despite leading for half the distance, he had to pull out in the 15th mile.

In 1910, he won Edinburgh's Powderhall Marathon in atrocious conditions with a time of two hours and 40 minutes.

He started Halesowen Athletics Club in 1922. It is also naming the road it is based on Jack Price Way.

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