Things really do happen in threes for long-time Sudbury resident Ron Wallingford.
Inducted into the Alumni Voyageurs Hall of Fame in 2002 and the Sudbury Sports Hall of Fame in 2009, the accomplished marathoner and professor/coach at Laurentian University is among five inductees to the Athletics Ontario Class of 2020.
Born in Ottawa and captain of the track team that captured the Big Ten crown while with the University of Michigan Wolverines, Wallingford was admitted as both a builder and athlete, to the surprise of very few.
Finishing third at the Boston Marathon in 1964 (2:20:51), the 86 year-old father of five twice established the national record for the fastest marathon by a Canadian runner.
To this day, Wallingford cherishes the memory of his bronze medal placement in Boston. “I remember quite a bit of that race,” he noted, as we sat down in the summer of 2018. “I had not been doing marathons that long at all prior to Boston.”
“Nobody knew me. The guy in first (Belgian Aurele Vandendriessche) was well ahead, but I had two Finlanders with me. When I made my move, coming into Boston, the crowds are so big along the sides, you don’t know exactly where the finish line was.”
“I was in second and made a move a little too early – I didn’t know how close I was to the finish.”
Wallingford would go on to don the maple leaf singlet at the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in 1966 in Kingston, Jamaica (6th in marathon), and at the Pan American Games a year later in Winnipeg (6th in 10,000 – 31.02).
By the time the Summer Olympics would make their way to Canada (Montreal) in 1976, Wallingford had established himself as a technical expert in the marathon as well. Holding down the prestigious positions of the Canadian Track and Field Technical Coordinator and Technical Director of CTFA, he was well prepared to serve as race director of the only Olympic Marathon hosted in this country.
Beyond his role as an academic at L.U., Wallingford would also pen three running related novels, the last of which (Never Let Go) was published in 2004.
Joining Ron Wallingford in the Athletics Ontario Class of 2020 are Al Sokol (builder), Jim Griffin (builder), Kyle Pettey (athlete) and Jessica Zelinka (athlete).