Hero is a strong word, I would only consider people who would give their lives as heroes or who really dedicate themselves to a cause such as Martin Luther King, Che Guevarra and the like. So perhaps the word hero has become trivialised but there is no other word than maybe inspirations.
Being the greedy git that I am, I have 2 sporting idols (once again slightly skewed but good all the same). One of them is a top class fell/mountain runner and the other I know personally.
So firstly Ian Holmes, his achievements are incredible. Multiple race winner, record holder, international. Still one of fell running's top guns despite his veteran status. He is famous abroad and has won the prestigous Mt Kinabalu race 3 times. Known for his descending skill he can mix it with the top lads over the short races (Blackstone edge etc), the mediums (Anni Waltz) and even the longs (Jura). We both run for the same club (Bingley) but all my fell is for Calder Valley but going into the future im certainly aiming at his level for the future.
Secondly is a much less well known guy except in small circles. Ive done a fair bit of running with him although admittedly nothing like his usual cup of tea which is ultra-running. He is called Tim Whittaker, total running psycho. He inspires this type of running madness in you when he talks 'Its just a short one' about a 33 mile race. Last year he won the Vasque Grand Slam series and is a prominent member of team krypton who are major players in ultra running. He always has a smile when running as well which is good because it is at the end of the day about enjoyment then position. When I turn 18 and start to do the odd ultra (lakeland 50 big target) then hopefully il have a chance to beat him over something although it would only work if i used his thought process of enjoyment overuling competition.