Association of International Marathons and Distance Races

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Lives remembered

01 January 2024, 9am

Publisher of Distance Running

Frank Baillie (1947–2023)

by Peter McLean

Baillie frank 2023 kosice milde img 5977

AIMS Publisher Frank Baillie passed away in his sleep at home on Sunday 19 November, one day before what would have been his 76th birthday.

Frank became involved with AIMS in 1990 and served as publisher to the Association under AIMS Presidents Bob Dalgleish, Hiroaki Chosa and Paco Borao.

Frank combined two of his greatest loves, running and publishing, when he became the publisher of Distance Running magazine. The magazine covered over 400 of the world’s major city races, spanning more than 120 countries and territories. Frank transformed the publication from a small black and white print magazine to full colour and on to become the world’s most widely distributed sports magazine.

Frank was a keen runner with a personal best of 2:45. He competed in numerous marathons including Glasgow and London. He also published magazines for both events in the 1980s. Frank originated the AIMS Marathon Medal and T-shirt awards now staged at each AIMS Congress.

Frank was one day watching the BBC Television programme ‘Antiques Roadshow’ when he spotted a rare physical relic of the 1908 London Olympic Marathon, the race that defined the Marathon distance as 26 miles 385 yards (42,195m). The 18-mile marker, a cast-iron fingerpost sign, surfaced from obscurity at a car boot sale in the north of England several years ago. The buyer, Graham Webster, knew what he had acquired and took it for valuation on the BBC programme where he expressed the feeling that the sign really belonged in a museum.

On behalf of AIMS Frank Baillie approached Webster who agreed to sell the sign. This was at a time when the Covid pandemic made travel problematic. Even in 2022, with restrictions lifted, the sign needed especially carefully couriered transportation due to the brittleness of the cast iron. Frank drove halfway across Europe to ensure the safe delivery of the sign to Berlin Marathon founder Horst Milde. The historic item now resides in the AIMS Marathon Museum of Running, later renamed the ‘Marathoneum’, in the Berlin Sports Museum, Germany – all thanks to Frank’s ingenuity, persistence and generosity.

Frank was rightly proud of where he was from and where he reached in life. His dad Frank senior was a van driver and his mum Mary a waitress. The family lived in Govan, the port area of their home Scottish city of Glasgow. Frank often talked about growing up in an old tenement building in Govan where he shared a bed sleeping head-to-toe with his three brothers and three sisters.

Frank loved flying and joined the air training corps from 1960 until 1965. He won a scholarship to become a pilot and then served in the RAF (Royal Air Force) as a Commanding Officer. He later became a commercial pilot, Captain Baillie was known and loved by everyone in Glasgow Airport, the waitresses, the cleaners, the crew and other pilots. When Frank retired as a pilot it had been 50 years since he first walked into Glasgow Airport as a young cadet.

From 1970 to 74, Frank joined Scottish & Universal Newspapers where he became the Personnel and Training Manager of Scotland’s most respected broadsheet newspaper The Glasgow Herald 1974–80. He became a Director of SUN which included one daily paper, 26 weekly papers and a number of sports magazines. Frank oversaw 200 staff. He gave many famous journalists their first job in the media.

From 1982–87 Frank was managing editor of famous publishers the Holmes McDougall Group, which he would later buy in a management buyout from parent company Lonrho plc for GBP 650,000, becoming owner and MD from 1987–93 where over five years he would successfully sell various parts of the company for 8.3 million GBP.

Frank loved to travel, loved skiing, and had an unquenchable thirst for history and learning. He was proud of studying for an MBA at Harvard University. Frank served as a non-executive director on many of Scotland’s hospital boards and was commended for his work in organising the celebration of the 50th year of the National Health Service in Scotland.

Rest in peace, our dear friend and a great servant to the running world and AIMS in particular.

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