Its success did not come quickly. His first major international competition was the marathon at the European Athletics Championships in 1962 in Belgrade, the then capital of Yugoslavia. He didn’t finish. At the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, he was 19th in the marathon and 18th in the 10,000-meter run. But the next year he broke the world records for 25,000 meters and 15 miles, which were held by Emil Zatopek Czechoslovakia.
Hill was not elected to the British marathon team for the 1968 Mexico City Summer Games, but he did compete in the 10,000 meter run and finished seventh. That year he also set two world records over 10 miles.
At the European Championships in Athens in 1969Hill was tired for the final miles of the marathon and thought he might at best win a silver medal when he spotted the leader Gaston Roelants from Belgium. Hill caught up with him less than a mile from him.
“I wasn’t sure what to do,” he said later. “I thought, ‘Should I sit in the back and try to overtake him or go straight past him?’ I chose the latter and never looked back because I was afraid that he would react. “
Hill won by about 34 seconds.
Seven months later, he came in as one of the favorites to win in Boston.
“Boston was a classic marathon back then, and I had dreamed of it,” Hill told The Globe in 1988. “I could hardly afford to leave work and Boston didn’t pay any expenses. But I wanted to go, and friends invested in a fund to send me. “
At the 1972 Olympic Marathon, won by the American Frank Shorter, he finished sixth.
Hill rode a total of 115 marathons, the last one in Boston in 1996 when he was 57 years old. His time was 3:12:46.