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Tributes paid to "private but proud" David Kreckeler

Tributes paid to

Saturday 04 February 2023

Tributes paid to "private but proud" David Kreckeler

Saturday 04 February 2023

A local historian - who is also the fastest man to run Guernsey's Liberation Day Road Race - has died, 56 years after setting his record.

David Kreckeler, who was known to his friends and family as Dave, was remembered by the Guernsey Athletics Club as "arguably the leading athlete, and certainly the leading endurance runner" during the first quarter century of the club's life.

Initially called the Guernsey Island Amateur Athletic Club, before more recently rebranding to the Guernsey Athletics Club, Mr Kreckeler was a prominent runner for the first 25 years after it launched.

He was known for entering events from distances of one mile up to the marathon and among his many accomplishments was his winning time of 34:39 in the seven mile Liberation Day Road Race in 1966 which still stands today.


Pictured: Mr Kreckeler holds many island athletics records, in good company with other elite runners such as Dale Garland, Keith Falla, and Lee Merrien.

A Guernsey Athletics' spokesperson said he would regularly watch other competitors trying to beat his time but he died with his record still intact. 

"Dave was a private man and appeared little involved in the local athletics scene after his retirement but he did maintain an interest in the sport as well as local history, he was a frequent visitor to the Priaulx Library and a regular letter-writer to the Guernsey Press on local historical matters," wrote Paul Ingrouille on the club's Facebook page.

"Through his ‘70s and ‘80s he still cut quite an athletic figure even as a pedestrian walking the streets of St. Peter Port and many will recognise him as the spectator observing the finish of the annual Liberation Day 7 mile run from near his home, at the bottom of Paris Street near Salarie corner, normally with a stop-watch in hand to keep check on the leader’s progress. 

"Dave was immensely proud of his 34:39 record run set in 1966 and died with his record still intact more than 56 years later."

In total, Mr Kreckeler won the Liberation Day Road 14 times between 1957 and 1971.

Having been run for the first time in 1946, the event would marry his two interests of athletics and history.

Guernsey Athletics said Mr Kreckeler's involvement in the local athletics scene went "far deeper" than his Liberation Day record with off-island competitions under his belt as well.

His standout performances included his three mile races, an event in which he was the first Guernsey man to run below 15 minutes, before breaking the 14 minute barrier too with a 13:52.8 run in 1962. He ran a 28:54.6 six mile race in 1965 before coming 11th in the AAA marathon at Port Talbot in 2:29.52 later that year. These three events all secured him Guernsey records that would stand for 20 years or more.

Mr Ingrouille wrote that Mr Kreckeler "...was renowned as a single minded and committed athlete which he perhaps had to be as many of his local races were largely solo time-trials.

"It is sometimes difficult to separate myth from fact but to those who met him, the tale of Dave racing across the Catelain spine at L’Ancresse in the final mile of a 9 ½ Mile double-full course ignoring the shooting competition going on around him 'because he was on for a good time' somehow rings true."

David Kreckeler

Pictured: Two books which keen historian Mr Kreckeler had published.

Mr Kreckeler's many achievements are chronicled in a book by Ray Hollis which records local sport events between 1885 and 1963 with a second book covering the years between 1964 and 2003.

Mr Ingrouille said other runners of his era will remember him well, but others may not as he was "a very private man".

Mr Kreckeler has also been remembered by associates he knew through his other interests, including local history.

He had been part of a group who restored the graves within the Brothers' Cemetery off Upland Road. 

A website devoted to the project yesterday featured a post from an anonymous source who wrote that they were "very sorry to read in the Guernsey Press this morning of the death of David Kreckeler".


Pictured: One of the many tributes paid to Mr Kreckeler since his death was announced by his family.

The post writer said that: "his work in the 1980s on transcribing the inscriptions provides an essential record of the Brothers’ Cemetery, made just before many of the tombs became too difficult to read. He continued to contribute information he had recorded over the years, often gathered from reading back issues of the Press and other local papers. His distinctive figure will be sadly missed."

Mr Kreckeler is known to have written other books based on local history including one focusing on the island's emigrants to Australia in the 1800s.

The staff of the Priaulx Library - where he was known to spend much of his time in his later years - shared the Guernsey Athletics Facebook post paying tribute after his death.

Mr Kreckeler had moved to the UK during the late 1950s to compete in athletics before returning to Guernsey. He lived at Paris Street where he was regularly seen walking in the area until the very end of his life. 

Mr Kreckeler's death was announced by his nieces, nephews and great nieces and nephews, with his funeral to be held at Le Foulon Chapel on 16 February. His family have asked for no flowers but any donations to be made to the Priaulx Library in his memory.


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