TRIBUTES have been paid to a successful and popular member of Scarborough’s running community, who has died aged 49.
John Trelfa, who passed away in Scarborough Hospital on Saturday, was a member of Scarborough Athletic Club and was renowned for his distance running achievements.
For the past four years he had been one of the club’s most successful runners at road races, a top scorer at cross country, and also on the track at endurance events such as the 5,000 metres and the 3,000 metres steeplechase.
Chris Clayton, chairman of Scarborough Athletic Club, said: “John was an extremely popular member of the club and running meant a huge amount to him.
“He trained hard and achieved some fantastic results. Perhaps the pinnacle for him was winning the Wolverhampton Marathon in 2009 at the age of 47, a truly remarkable achievement.
“He was a great inspiration to many, offering advice and encouragement to all, especially the youngsters.”
Mr Clayton added that John had time for everyone, no matter what standard of runner they were. He said: “It didn’t matter whether you finished first or last, John would want to hear how your race had gone and how you felt at the finish line.
“A true team player, he was never happier than when he was competing as part of the Scarborough AC team at track and field matches, often competing in a variety of events to ensure we scored points.”
Mr Clayton added that John was a “larger than life character” and will always remember seeing him standing next to one of the greatest distance runners of all time, Haile Gebrselassie, on the start line of the 2010 Great North Run, wearing his trademark red bandana and mouthing “Hello Mum” on BBC television.
He said: “His death will leave a huge hole in the club and he will be greatly missed by all.”
A month after winning the Wolverhampton Marathon in 2009, Mr Trelfa ran in the Abingdon Marathon and achieved a lifetime best time of 2 hours and 40 minutes.
This was the fastest time of the year by a Yorkshire County athlete in the over 45 category.
He has remained one of the top ranked Yorkshire athletes in the age group ever since.
This year he competed successfully at the London and Edinburgh marathons plus the Great North Run. He was 368th of 35,000 at London, 42nd of 10,000 at Edinburgh and 103rd of 37,000 at the Great North Run.
Fellow runner Mick Thompson, who is the club’s press officer, said: “At cross country he was mostly a top 10 finisher in the East Yorkshire League, and last season he made a most valuable contribution towards the club, winning the league title for the first time in six years.
“Soon after joining the club, he became a most valuable member of the senior track and field team, and his contribution mainly at endurance events helped the team to two consecutive promotions.
“He also achieved top rankings in his age group and this year was ranked number one at the Steeplechase.”
Mr Thompson added that on one very memorable occasion in 2009, John finished close to a lifetime best in the Jane Tomlinson 10 kilometre race, when he was 6th of the 4,000 runners, and then took on a 5,000 metres track race for the club in the afternoon, finishing in 4th in the “A” race.
He said: “Personally I will miss writing about his achievements and I’ll miss him as a friend.”
Mr Trelfa leaves his partner Sharon, son Kyle, mother Gwen and sisters Mary and Jane.
A funeral service will be held at Woodlands Crematorium on Tuesday at 11.20am.
Fellow athletes are expected to attend wearing running gear, as per Mr Trelfa’s wishes.
An inquest into his death was opened and adjourned yesterday.