John Balmer

For those of us around in the late 1960s and early 1970s many will remember John as a gifted distance runner, his light ginger hair, slight frame and his effortless running action were the trade mark  of this popular athlete on the North West road running circuit. John featured strongly in most of the top events on one memorable occasion he finished second to the great Ron Hill in the Pembroke 20 in Huyton.  John began his career as youth running for Pembroke before falling out of the sport for a couple of years, by the mid 1960s John had rekindled his interest and he was back running again this time with Sefton Harriers, during this period  he set a new Sefton marathon record of 2.25.08 in 1967 at the Liverpool marathon when he helped Sefton beat Pembroke to the team prize. Norman Wilson recalls John and his trips to Rowen in North Wales during his Sefton days when they had training weeks there, running around the hills and roads of North Wales. By the late 1960s John was back running with Pembroke who had a very strong road running team and in 1971 he ran his best marathon time of 2.24.13 at Preston, a performance that ranks  John 6th on the club’s all time list.

John continued to race albeit with less frequency until the mid 1970s, he was however still to be seen at many events as a spectator.


John Balmer

John Balmer



3 Responses to John Balmer

  1. 04/07/2014 at 6:57 AM #

    John’s running style was effortless. Whether I was running in his company on a Sunday morning training run or waiting my turn in a relay and watching him run his ‘leg’ his easy style of running was remarkable. I will miss John but will remember him with much affection.

    For all the current Pembroke/Sefton runners I wish you well in all your endeavors. Richie Brown.

  2. 07/07/2014 at 4:09 PM #

    It was with a very sad heart that I read of John’s parting. As all who new John will undoubtly agree, he was a gentleman, and a gentle man. An often used quote, but one that could have been coined initially for John.
    Although we didn’t see each other very often over the years (these days normally at other runner’s funerals unfortunately), John always made you feel that he was really pleased to see you. I had great respect for him as a person and as a runner, and he gave you the feeling that the feeling was mutual.
    I’m sure other runners of our generation can identify with that, John made you feel special.
    His family will miss him terribly.

    No doubt there will be a large turnout to say goodbye to this special man – see you there.


  3. 22/07/2014 at 6:30 AM #

    Ken Davies
    I am sad to hear of the death of John Balmer. I knew him only too briefly when he was just startng back with Sefton Harriers in the early sixties. We had one very memorable race together over the Derwentwater 10 mile. He was a genuinly nice guy with an effortless running action, my condolences to all. Ken Davies in NZ.