Runner donates prize money from Hawaii race after friend's death

Neil Gourley will give $4,000 to the Hearts and Balls charity in memory of Jim Taylor MBE.

Runner Neil Gourley donates prize from Honolulu Merrie Mile race to Hearts and Balls in Jim Taylor’s memory SNS Group

A Scottish athlete who won $4,000 in a race in Hawaii is to donate his prize to charity in memory of a friend who died last week.

Neil Gourley, who has represented Scotland and Great Britain at the World Championships and Commonwealth Games, finished in first place in the Kalakaua Merrie Mile event.

The mixed-sex event, which takes place before the Honolulu marathon, has a competitive field and an unusual format.

Jim Taylor MBE passed away overnight at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital.Glasgow Warriors

Women are given a 29-second head start in the mile-long race and prize money is awarded based on overall finish, regardless of sex.

Gourley finished ahead of American athletes Sam Prakel and Hobbs Kessler after a sprint finish that saw him cross the line a half-second ahead of Prakel. He’ll now give his winnings to Hearts and Balls Charitable Trust in memory of his friend, and the charity’s fundraiser, Jim Taylor MBE.

Taylor, who worked at Glasgow Warriors and was a popular figure at the Scotstoun club, was a former Kelvinside Academicals player who broke his neck in 1978 after a scrum collapsed. He set up Hearts and Balls to help other players who suffered life-changing injuries while playing the sport.

Gourley, who had called Taylor “a massive inspiration”, tweeted after his win in Hawaii: “This one was for Jim”.

Following Taylor’s death on Thursday at the age of 67 , senior figures in Scottish rugby paid tribute.

Warriors managing director Al Kellock said: “The news of Jim Taylor’s passing is terribly sad and will impact so many at Glasgow Warriors and our wider community. He gave so much to this club both as a member of our team and as someone invested in rugby in the city. We have lost a close friend today.”

Scotland, and former Glasgow Warriors, head coach, Gregor Townsend, said: “I remember Jim welcoming me to the club when I first joined and going to his and Sandra’s house for a meal – that’s what he did for everyone that was new to the club.

“For a lot of people – including supporters, players, and sponsors – Jim represented Glasgow Warriors because he always wanted the best for the team.

“He would always give me a lift on a Monday morning after a loss, through his enthusiasm and his support. Also, Sandra would bring me in Mars Bar cake after a win, which then grew to her bringing it in for the other coaches and off-field staff. These were lovely touches that they as a couple brought to the club.

“He cared so much for the club, and it was brilliant to see the reaction that he got from everyone when he delivered the match ball, with the players and staff forming a guard of honour and the cheer from the crowd. After the game I had the chance to catch up with him and had looked forward to that conversation for a long time.”

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