Speedy Ellis: From Britain to Butler


Senior Harry Ellis first fell in love with running during a high school physical education class at Helsby High School in England. Ellis is a distance runner on the Butler track and field team.

Although he grew up playing soccer, and running was already in his repertoire, Ellis said he did not take running seriously until Dennis Evans, his high school teacher, gave the inspiration to do better.

Harry Ellis

Senior Harry Ellis

Ellis went on to win many races and set new school track and field records.

“I will always remember the day (Evans) said, ‘Ellis, get yourself down to the running club and stop messing around on the football (soccer) pitch; you are the most talented runner I have ever seen,’” he said.

Evans’ speech propelled the quick Brit to an all new journey. After receiving a word of approval from Evans, Ellis said he immediately joined Vale Royal Running Club.

He ran there for almost a year then joined the Warrington Running Club.

“That was when things got real serious,” Ellis said. “My coach was Phil Hicken and they were a group of guys who I could train hard with. I started running for my county (Cheshire), then for North of England. I eventually represented England and finally the big one came, Great Britain.”

Ellis quickly worked his way up the rankings.He first found success in the 1500-meter Loughborough International meet.

By his senior year of high school, he was the fastest 1500-meter runner in the country for his age group. With this, he was selected to run for Great Britain in the World Junior Championships.

After his success back home, Ellis’ road to Butler differed from most.

In the beginning, he did not have any thoughts about coming to America. He wanted to stay there and go to college in England. The decision-maker between him staying or going to America was a volcanic eruption.

“It was only until my dad, who at the time was in China for business, was trying to fly home but couldn’t due to a volcano eruption in Iceland,” Ellis said. “He decided to make a pit stop in Indy and check out Butler.”

Ellis’ dad then returned home and could not stop talking about Butler. A small, 4,000-student University nearly 4,000 miles away from Warrington, England, had convinced one of the best runners of his age group to fly transatlantic to take his talents there.

When Ellis arrived at Butler, he got off to a quick start competing in numerous meets. However, an injury during the early portion of his freshman season set him back.

“Within the first couple of months, I got a stress fracture in my sacrum,” he said. “I was out for pretty much the whole year.”

Ellis attempted to come back stronger numerous times. He said he was in the best shape he ever has been at Butler in 2013. He said the 2012 indoor conference, however, is his favorite moment of his collegiate career.

“I ran the mile and the 3K, I came in fourth and my teammates came first through third so it was pretty cool sweeping that race,” he said.

Ellis has helped head coach Matt Roe bring in another talented British runner, Tom Curr.

Curr, a Stroud, England, native, said Ellis was a big part of his decision to also attend Butler.

“I competed for England with Harry in Spain in January of 2010,” Curr said.

“We were both kind of jokers and a little less serious than the others, so we bonded well there. Harry mentioned that he had signed for Butler and they had already contacted me, so he was a big part of my decision to choose Butler over other schools.”

Ellis is a digital media production and strategic communication major at Butler. He plans on retiring and pursuing other efforts after he graduates this spring.

Whether it was in England or at Butler, one thing has always remained true: Ellis has always loved winning.

“I think what I fell in love about running the most is that it comes easy to me, it wasn’t complicated, one step in front of the other, fastest man wins, easy,” Ellis said.

“The biggest thing for me was that nobody else could be held accountable except myself. It is one of the only sports where, in competition, it is me, myself and I.”