News & Updates

14 June 2021 • Community

Obituary: Ron Cain

Well known and well-liked Ron Cain QSM of Dunedin, a successful competitor, administrator, manager and official, died on Monday 7 June 2021 aged 89.

Ron was a past President of the Caversham Harriers Club, Athletics Otago and Athletics New Zealand. He was made a Life Member of all three.

He was an elite runner in the 1950s and was a member of five Otago cross country teams that won the national senior team’s title. His best individual performance was to finish runner-up to Kerry Williams in 1955.

He was a New Zealand cross country selector from 1977 to 1992 and chairman of the committee for 11 years. He managed three New Zealand teams to international events, the highlight being the World Cross Country Championships in Spain in 1981.

He had been Meeting Manager at the Caledonian Ground since 1980 and this included three New Zealand championships.

Ron joined the Caversham Harriers Club in 1945 and held most positions in the club including Club Captain and President. In 1964 he was made a Life Member and his name features on most of the club’s silverware. From 1949 until 1960, the club won the Otago cross country team’s event and the Edmond Cup Steeplechase on 10 occasions, helped by Ron’s high placing in every event. Stamina was the key to his success, for he maintained a consistently high position throughout every race. Ron was one of the main supporters when raising the money to build the new clubrooms in Corstorphine and was Chairman/Treasurer of the very successful 100-year jubilee of the club, having also served on the committees for the 50th and 75th jubilees. In 2014, he was elected Patron of the Club.

Ron was a member of the Junior Otago team which won the National Team’s Race in 1950; a member of the Senior Otago team which won the National Team’s Race in 1951 and 1958; and captained the team which won the title in 1954-56. These achievements gave Ron his six team medals, a feat which has not been surpassed by any other athlete since. From 1950 to 1964, Ron represented Otago at the national cross country races, only missing the 1959 event when his first child was being born. In 1965 he ceased running at national events but continued on in masters’ events.

Ron spent 25 years as the Caversham delegate to the Otago Centre, 28 years on the Harriers Committee (six years as the Chairman), 15 years as a Track and Field Committee Member, 30 years as a Track and Field judge, 20 years as Manager of all Track and Field Meetings (including National Youth and National Secondary School events), 20 years on the Finance Committee and 15 years as Otago delegate to the NZAAA. From 1975 to 1977, he was the Otago President – he was elected Life Member in 1989 and Patron in 2015.

Ron spent 15 years on the National Cross Country Selection Panel, being convenor for 11 of those years. In 1980 he managed a team to Australia, and in 1981 he managed the New Zealand team to the World Cross Country Championships in Madrid, Spain. He convened an Oceania Team to Japan and managed a small team to the Japanese Championships. In 1988 Ron was awarded one of the first NZAAA Merit Awards; was President from 1992-1993 and elected Life Member in 2010. In 2013 the IAAF sent him a Certificate of Recognition for Services to Athletics.

While all this was going on, Ron pursued a successful business career in the motor trade, which began when he was employed as a spare parts boy by City Motors in 1947. Two years later he was invited to join the General Accessory Company as a spare parts wholesaler, and ultimately became branch and area manager. He retained managerial positions during the subsequent three take overs of the firms he worked for and retired from Repco in 1988.

He was born and lived in South Dunedin’s Wynyard Street for 29 years. He then married Betty and they lived in Fairfield for 58 years, and in 2018 they shifted to Chatswood Retirement Village in Mosgiel where they celebrated their diamond wedding recently.

In the 2013 Queen’s Birthday Honours, Ron received the Queen’s Service Medal for services to athletics and last year was inducted into the King’s High School Wall of Fame.

”I don’t look for accolades but if they come, it’s lovely,” he said after receiving the QSM. ”I just do my job as I’ve always done.

”It’s the people in the Caversham Harriers and Athletics Otago over the years who have helped me do what I wanted to do.”

He had a simple but positive philosophy for life.

”Life is fun. Put a smile on your face and enjoy everything you do.”