Adrian Royle (born 12 February 1959)[1] is a retired English long distance runner born in Manchester. He is notable for running exceptional times on difficult courses, making race organizers think the course had been mis-measured.

Early life

Royle moved to Grimsby as a child and took up running as an 11-year-old at Wintringham School, joining Grimsby Harriers as a 17-year-old. He then moved back to Manchester and joined Manchester Harriers & AC whilst working as a clerk in a rubber factory. In 1980, aged 21, he moved to the United States to attend the College of Southern Idaho and he enjoyed most of his success in America. He easily won the US Junior College Championship later that year.[2]

Athletic career

Matriculating to the University of Nevada, Reno, in 1981 he shocked much better known athletes like Alberto Salazar, Steve Scott, Henry Rono and countrymate Nick Rose by winning the TAC National Cross Country Championships.[3] His time for the 10,000 metre course was over 2 seconds faster than the listed World Record for the distance on the track (set by Rono).[4]

A few weeks later he ran the Lasse Viren Finnish Invitational, an elite 20 km cross country race on hills and dirt trails. His time of 58:38 also surpassed the standing World Record for the distance on a flat course. It was not beaten until 1994[5] His time still stands as the British 20 km road record. The following year, he also set the British 12 km record.[6]

Nearly four decades after his peak athletic years, he is still ranked number 16 on the British all-time list for 10,000m.[7][8] The time was set in his first attempt at the distance on the track on a rainy day in Eugene, Oregon running behind a stirring duel between Salazar and Rono that exacted revenge for the previous defeat.[9] The picture of the three competitors appeared on the cover of the May 1982 issue of Track and Field News.[10] A mystery illness, probably Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, struck in October 1983 and lasted for 18 months. He returned to the UK in 1983 where he joined Charnwood AC and ran a sub 48 minute 10 mile in 1987 before retiring the next year.

Royle now lives in Louth, Lincolnshire England and has been a prolific photographer and voluntary litter picker.[11][12]


  1. ^ "pp Online". pp Online. Archived from the original on 18 September 2009. Retrieved 13 May 2010.
  2. ^ "NJCA National Champions" (PDF). Retrieved 13 May 2010.[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ "USATF National Cross Country Champions". Retrieved 13 May 2010.
  4. ^ Kenny Moore (7 December 1981). "Sports Illustrated December 7, 1981". Retrieved 12 May 2010.
  5. ^ "All time 20Km list". Retrieved 13 May 2010.
  6. ^ "GBR Record progressions". Retrieved 12 May 2010.
  7. ^ "GRB Athletics 10000 list". Archived from the original on 27 May 2010. Retrieved 12 May 2010.
  8. ^ "Team Body Works". Archived from the original on 6 March 2012. Retrieved 13 May 2010.
  9. ^ Kenny Moore (19 April 1982). "Sports Illustrated April 19, 1982". Retrieved 13 May 2010.
  10. ^ "Running Entertainment". Running Entertainment. Retrieved 13 May 2010.
  11. ^ "Encyclopedia". Encyclopedia. 10 March 2008. Retrieved 13 May 2010.
  12. ^ "Special recognition for 'Wombles' in Louth". 2 January 2021.