HEARTFELT tributes have poured in for a pioneering Renfrewshire endurance athlete who has died at the age of 61.

Father-of-four John Kynaston, who was also a former church pastor, helped to establish the sport of ultra running in Scotland, particularly the famous 95-mile West Highland Way Race.

A long time member of Kilbarchan Amateur Athletics Club, he suffered a heart attack on January 5 and died at the Golden Jubilee Hospital, in Clydebank, on January 12.

One of the many tributes came from his close friend Ian Beattie MBE, chairman of Scottish Athletics.

Mr Beattie told The Gazette: “John was one of those people who didn’t have a bad bone in their body.

“He was a very enthusiastic and very loving person. You could not have a better friend.

“I first got to know John in 2006 through the West Highland Way Race when he was working as a pastor in Paisley and I was race director.

“He was a good marathon runner. However, the real love of his life was ultra running.

“John was very involved in the West Highland Way Race. He was on the committee, looked after the race website and podcast and really threw himself into all aspects of the organisation.”

John clocked up 52 ultra races, which cover a distance longer than a marathon.

Mr Beattie added: “John was legendary across the UK in ultra running circles and he is one of the reasons it is now so popular.

“We had become very good friends and he even married my wife and I in Edinburgh in 2015, although we were not a member of his church.

“It came as a complete shock when we heard that John had taken ill. He was a very big blogger and social media person and he had just posted his running plans for 2021.

“He didn’t drink and he was, of course, very fit.

“His death came out of the blue and everyone who knew him is feeling a great sense of loss.”

The Gazette: John and his wife Katrina were married for 35 yearsJohn and his wife Katrina were married for 35 years

John, a former PE and Religious Studies teacher, was born in Liverpool in 1959.

He worked in Bangladesh and South India before joining Hopehall Evangelical Church, Paisley, as pastor in 2001.

According to friends, his long-term goal was to run 100 ultras by his 70th birthday.

John’s most recent role was as an Active Schools co-ordinator for Glasgow City Council, promoting physical activity for children.

Ahead of the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, he arranged for pupils from the city’s Rosshall Academy to run with the Queen’s Baton.

Andrea Crawford, John’s manager at the council’s PEPASS (Physical Education, Physical Activity and School Sport) programme, said he inspired pupils with his love of athletics.

She added: “John’s smile lit up a room. He was inspirational, motivational, and enthusiastic – the personification of all the good that sport offered.

“He had many loves in his life, including his faith and family.”

John is survived by his wife of 35 years Katrina, daughters Jo, Emma, Laura and Hollie and seven grandchildren.

In a statement, the family told The Gazette: “We’re so proud of our husband and dad and feel honoured he was ours.

“We have been overwhelmed to see how he has impacted, encouraged and inspired so many people.”