Just as Paul Tergat was setting a new world marathon record in Berlin last week, news came filtering through that fellow Kenyan Benson Masya had died at the age of 33 back home in Kenya after a long illness.
Benson was one of the all-time greats of African distance running, and it was on Tyneside that he made a name for himself winning the Great North Run a remarkable four times - the only man to do so - and on two of those occasions had the measure of 34-year-old Tergat.
A former bantam-weight boxer in Kenya's Postal Service, Masya first came to prominence when surprisingly winning the GNR on his debut in 1991, although that victory in 61 minutes 34 seconds was made much easier when pre-race favourite Moses Tanui, winner of the World 10,000m gold medal the previous month, dropped out injured after 10 miles.
Masya returned 12 months later to defend his title when the race was incorporated into the first-ever World Half-Marathon Championships.
And to show his win in 1991 was not just a one-off, he convincingly won the race in a world record time of 60min 24sec. After his victory he said confidently: "I could have gone even faster." That prediction was spot on three years later when, in a nailbiting finish with fellow Kenyan Moses Tanui, he became the fastest-ever athlete on UK soil as he smashed the GNR course record with a time of 60min 02sec.
The tables were turned in 1995 with Tanui getting the verdict ahead of Masya, but that didn't deter him from returning for another tilt at the World's biggest half-marathon the following year.
And he proved that he could bounce back in fine style as his fighting qualities shone through as he recorded his fourth success.
It was only in last year's race that his course record was broken when another top-ranking Kenyan, Paul Kosgei, slashed four seconds off Masya's 1994 figures to come home in under the one-hour mark - the only time this has been achieved in this country at 59min 58sec.
Masya brought a new dimension to the Great North Run and he will leave many happy memories for those who have followed the event since its inception in 1981.
Masya was seriously ill about three years ago but he seemed to have recovered somewhat and regained enough health this summer to consider racing again.
He was a machine when it came to training and racing. His rivals - and the North East public who lined the route from Newcastle to South Shields to watch him - will vouch for that.