UK coaching legend Frank Horwill (Peter Thompson) © Copyright

Frank Horwill, coaching legend, passes away

MonteCarloThe IAAF is deeply saddened by the news that Frank Horwill, the renowned UK middle distance coach, passed away on 1 January. He was 84.

Horwill, a senior level 4 coach, was the founder of the British Milers' Club (BMC) and formulated the Five Pace Training Theory which is widely used for coaching middle distance runners throughout the world.

As a coach since 1961, Horwill coached 49 Great Britain and Northern Ireland international athletes (at Sep 2008) from 800m to the Marathon - from track to the road and Cross Country. Five of his athletes have run sub-4 minute miles – the fastest being Tim Hutchings, who ran 3:54:53 and placed fourth in the 5000m in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games.

In 1963 Horwill co-founded the British Milers’ Club (BMC) with the aim of raising "British middle distance running to world supremacy". Seventeen years after the BMC was formed, British male middle distance runners held all the middle distance World Records.

In 1970 Horwill invented the 5-pace/multi-tier system of training, used by Sebastian Coe to enormous success under his father and coach Peter Coe.

Many other prominent athletes also adopted the 5-pace system of training including Saïd Aouita of Morocco, who was the only man at the time capable of running 800m in sub 1:44, 1500m in sub 3:30, 3000m in sub 7:30, 5000m in sub 13:00, and 10,000m in sub 27:30. Noah Ngeny, the 2000 Sydney Olympic 1500m champion, also adopted the system.

Widely respected in athletics circles around the world, Horwill lectured and coached internationally, including in Canada, Ireland, Poland, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Bahrain, Portugal and South Africa.

A prolific writer, Horwill regularly produced articles for Athletics Weekly and other sporting publications. He was co-author of The Complete Middle Distance Runner (1972), along with Denis Watts and Harry Wilson. In 1991, Horwill published Obsession for Running, described by The Daily Telegraph as “The athletics book of the year”.

Horwill was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2011 Birthday Honours for voluntary service to sport.