First London Marathon
In the first programme of the BBC Radio 4 spring series of The Reunion, Sue MacGregor revisits 1981 and the first running of the London Marathon.
Before the London Marathon, long-distance running in Britain was the exclusive domain of elite athletes. Two former British Olympic athletes Chris Brasher and John Disley were inspired by the New York Marathon, and the jogging boom of the 1970's, and decided to set about organizing a marathon through the streets of London. With almost seven thousand runners participating in the first race, marathon running was suddenly on the map.
Sue is joined around the table by: David Bedford, current Race Director and former 10,000 metre world record holder; John Disley, an original founder and bronze medal Olympic steeplechase winner; John Bryant, journalist and marathon historian; Hugh Jones, course measurer and the first British man to win the London Marathon in 1982; and Veronique Marot, the second British woman to win, setting a British women's record in 1989.
Over 36,000 participants are confirmed for 2010. Though not the original intention of the founders, the London Marathon went on to become the largest one-day fundraising event in the world. By 2010, the marathon will have raised over a half a billion pounds for charity. Today, the London Marathon is a distinct mixture of elite competition and street carnival, an event that the capital is exceedingly proud of.
The producer is Colin McNulty, and this is a Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.