01 July 2013, 7am
Jack Fitzgerald was an indefatigable ultra-distance runner and race organiser. He was closely involved in the formation of both the British Veterans Athletic Federation and the World Association of Veteran Athletes (later World Masters Association).
After serving in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War Jack joined Mitcham AC in 1947 and debuted in the Poly Marathon in 1950 with a time of 3:03. He ran his best time of 2:39 when he was already over 40 and developed a natural interest in veteran athletics. He served as Hon. Secretary of Mitcham AC and when it became Sutton and District Athletic Club he became Chairman. For many years he organised the Mitcham 15 miles road race in south west London, which later became the Mitcham 25km.
Jack attended a meeting in Toronto from 11–16 August 1975, hosted by Don Farquharson, Chairman of the Local Organising Committee for a meeting styled as the first World Championships for Masters (who were then also known as ‘Veterans’). There were 1427 competitors who attended, representing 32 countries. The meeting convened formed WAVA – the World Association of Veteran Athletes – of which Jack Fitzgerald became Chairman and Farquharson the Secretary and Treasurer.
Jack ran 3:16 for a marathon at the age of 69, but after an operation two years later switched to race walking. He celebrated his 90th birthday in January 2013, but died at a residential home in Putney where he moved after several weeks in St George’s Hospital, South London.