TRIBUTES have been paid to an elite fell runner and long-time Green activist who died after suffering a heart attack.
The sudden death of John Blair-Fish, aged 62, on September 4, has sent shockwaves through both the Scottish fell running community and Green political movement.
Edinburgh Greens and athletic club members told of their shock and sadness as he was laid to rest at Corstorphine Hill Cemetery yesterday.
He is survived by his brother Peter and sister Mary.
Born in Kent in 1950, John moved to Edinburgh in 1972 as a post-graduate student in meteorology and later found his niche in computer science, spending much of his working life with Edinburgh University’s computer support team.
His love of hill running was sparked by running up Arthur’s Seat and the Pentlands, and he was still running 40 to 50 miles a week into his 60s, sometimes cycling instead.
It was while on a ride with the Cyclists’ Touring Club last week that John suffered a heart attack and died near West Linton.
He served on the committee of the Fell Runners Association for 20 years, and was also a founding member of the Carnethy Running Club in 1983 – he is famed for running 62 Lake District peaks in 24 hours and was four times Scottish over-50 Hill Running Champion.
A tribute on the club website read: “John was an elder statesman and a permanent fixture on the hill-running scene, characterised by a unique gait and a phenomenal hill-climbing ability.
“Things about John you’ll always remember: his well-crafted bombshells at meetings, his biggest doorstep sandwiches in the world, his elbows, his sartorial athletic fashion sense, and so many things that he frustrated you with which endeared you to the man all the more.
“He will be sadly missed and our thoughts go out to his family and friends.”
John held numerous positions with the Scottish Greens, and was most recently on the Edinburgh branch committee.
Former Lothian Green MSP Robin Harper said: “I cannot think of anyone more dedicated to our core values, someone who quietly put in a huge amount of on-the-ground work for us.”
Current Lothian Green MSP Alison Johnstone, said: “John was consistently supportive and helpful, as part of the team who helped me draft my first by-election leaflet ten years ago and as a dedicated and reliable deliverer of leaflets, not to mention his work on the committee.
“He and I shared a passion for distance running, most of his done on the challenging slopes of hills and mountains. Only recently he sent me details of a near-vertical hill race he was taking part in in Italy. Younger hill runners admired his determination and love of his sport. I’ll miss him very much.”