Tributes for the man who made marathon a winner

TRIBUTES have been paid to the man credited with transforming the Edinburgh Marathon into the biggest event of its kind in Scotland.

Geoff Sims, who lost his fight with cancer on Friday, aged 46, revived the event seven years ago after a previous incarnation was mothballed in 1986 amid dwindling support.

The Edinburgh Marathon grew from just 3000 participants in its inaugural year to more than 23,000 this year.

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Derbyshire-born Mr Sims had lived in North Berwick for the past decade and was also central to the development of the trailblazing Kilomathon series, a 26.2-kilometre race (16.3 miles) hosted in the city for the first time in October.

He began his career working with youth and homeless charities as a fundraising champion, raising in excess of 3 million annually for over 380 charitable causes in recent years.

His events continue to raise revenue and support for charities such as Oxfam, Cancer Research UK, Macmillan Cancer Support, Hope for Children, and Rainbow's Children Hospice.

Marathon race director Neil Kilgour said his friend had left a lasting legacy.

"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," he said.

"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."

City leisure leader Councillor Deidre Brock said: "I was saddened to hear about the death of Mr Sims, and my sincere condolences go to his family.

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

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Mr Sims rekindled interest in endurance running following the demise of the Edinburgh People's Marathon and he helped to attract a host of top long-distance athletes to the event through his hard work and zeal,

Lack of sponsorship and falling interest in marathon running was blamed for the fall of the People's Marathon in 1986, which was organised by the Edinburgh Southern Harriers club. It was abandoned after the event attracted just 3000 participants in its final year, despite being held the same year Edinburgh last hosted the Commonwealth Games.

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

The funeral will take place in his home city of Derby on Tuesday, December 21.