Edinburgh Marathon founder loses fight with cancer, aged 46

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THE founder of one of Scotland's biggest sporting events has passed away at the age of just 46.

Geoff Sims, who had staged the Edinburgh Marathon annually since 2003, died on Friday after battling against cancer.

He founded his own events company, GSi Events, after the success of the event, which was voted the world's top city marathon earlier this year.

The first marathon attracted more than 3,000 participants but by last year some 14,000 runners were signed up for the event, which had become a running "festival", featuring a half-marathon. The occasion had become firmly established as Scotland's biggest mass participation running event and is also now the UK's second biggest marathon, successfully wooing runners unable to secure a place in the London Marathon.

It is also credited with attracting the organisers of other major running events to stage them in Edinburgh.

Mr Sims, who had previously worked for various charities, created the Edinburgh Marathon primarily as a major fundraising event, although the course used in recent years was hailed as the fastest in the UK.

The event, said to be the fastest growing marathon in the world, had signed major partnerships with four charities - Oxfam, Macmillan Cancer Support, Breast Cancer Care and the British Heart Foundation.

A spokeswoman for GSi Events, which had branched out into other events across the UK, said: "Geoff's inspirational leadership has seen the Edinburgh Marathon grow from attracting 3,000 participants in 2003 to become one of the biggest events in the nation's capital, which is on target to reach a new total of 30,000 entrants taking part in a weekend festival of running events in May of next year.

Mr Sims was born and bred in Derbyshire, but relocated to North Berwick before launching the new marathon event, the first to be held in the city for 17 years.

Race director Neil Kilgour said: "We as a team have been privileged to have worked with and had as a friend a loving individual who will be very much missed by us all.

"His legacy is the positive impact that he had on all who worked with him, as well as the knowledge that he has put in place a team that will continue to deliver world-class events that raise significant money for the charity sector."

Deidre Brock, Edinburgh City Council's culture and sports leader, said: "I was saddened to hear about the death of Mr Sims, and my sincere condolences go to his family.

"The Edinburgh Marathon has attracted many thousands of spectators and participants over the years and has certainly raised Edinburgh's sporting profile."

Mr Sims is survived by his partner Lorna and his children Michael, Rebekah and Joe.

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