The English Cross Country Association is sad to hear that Life Member, Diane Leather, who later married to become Mrs Charles has died peacefully on Friday 7th September aged 85. Diane was a great distance runner both at Cross Country and on the Track. It was over the mile that Diane hit the headlines becoming the first Women to run under 5 minutes for the distance in May 1954, 23 days after Roger Bannister’s epic performance but this did not attract the same attention as Bannister and her performances merited more praise and publicity. She then went on to run 4mins 45secs for the mile in 1955.
Before that Diane had already established herself as a great Cross Country runner winning the English Women’s Cross Country Championship an unprecedented four times in succession in 1953/54/55/56. She was also a three-time winner of the Women’s race at the International Cross Country Championships in 1954/55 and 57 (albeit then an unofficial one before the official race introduction). For many years Diane lived in Cornwall but we were delighted that she travelled up from there in 2015 to attend the National Cross Country Championships at Parliament Hill to be part of a gathering of past Women’s National winners.