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Striding to success: Ed Shillabeer (BVSc 1964)

Ed pauses in Langford outside the School of Veterinary Sciences where he earned his degree

Ed Shillabeer and Richard Pain

Ed with fellow Bristol alumus, Richard Pain (BA 1979), Bishop of Monmouth, at the end of his charity walk

9 December 2014

This summer, Ed Shillabeer BVSc MRCVS (BVSc 1964) returned from the Izmir 2014 European Veterans Athletics Championships with not one, but two, silver medals to his name, after also completing a 250-mile charity walk the month before.

Ed has an unusual claim to fame: he is the oldest athlete ever to debut for Great Britain, making his first full international representation as a speedwalker at the age of 51. 

Ed then set his sights on walking 200km in Bazancourt, France, which he completed in 23 hours and 53 minutes, finishing in the top twelve.  The following year, his time of 23:14:44 put him sixth out of 68 competitors.

Ed’s athletic achievements since then are remarkable.  In 2006, at the age of 67, Ed completed the Ironman UK triathlon in Sherborne, Dorset, in a time of 15:35:45.  In 2007, he set a world age record for road-walking 50km in the Netherlands, and in 2008, he won a gold medal in the 65-69 year age group at the European Masters 20km walk in Slovenia.  Building on that success, in 2011, in the World Championships in the heat of Sacramento, California, he was sixth in the 5k track race-walk, third in the 10k road race-walk, and champion in the M70 20k road race-walk in 2:03:27.

This summer, Ed returned from the Izmir 2014 European Veterans Athletics Championships with not one, but two, silver medals to his name – for the 5k track race-walk, and the 20k race-walk, a relative dip probably explained by his charity walk for International Cat Care the month before.

In July, to celebrate 50 years 'at the coalface', Ed set off from his one-man practice in Plymouth to race-walk more than 250 miles to the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons in London.  His walk took him through Exeter, Taunton, Langford, Tisbury, Kingsclere and Amersham before he arrived in the capital seven days later.

Not that Ed stopped long to celebrate – the day after his walk, Ed joined friends in the Great Hall of the Wills Memorial Building to celebrate 50 years since his graduation, as part of the Best of Bristol: Alumni Weekend

Ed’s final act of homage was to give thanks to God in the Dame Monica Wills Chapel in a Sunday service led by fellow Bristol alum, Richard Pain (BA 1979), the Bishop of Monmouth.