After running in the 1979 New York City Marathon,
Chris Brasher returned to London obsessed.
In The Observer, he wrote,


Last Sunday, in one of the most trouble-stricken cities in the world, 11,532 men and women from 40 countries...laughed and cheered and suffered during the greatest folk festival the world has seen. I wonder whether London could stage such a festival?


It was, in essence, the beginning of the London Marathon. Brasher, once an elite runner himself, having won the 3000 meter steeplechase Gold Medal at the 1956 Olympics, carried this enthusiasm with him to the Greater London Council and the Metropolitan Police early in 1980. After studying marathon organizations and financing in the United States, Brasher proposed a London Marathon to the authorities. Brasher's goals were:

  • To improve the overall standard and status of British marathon running by providing a fast course and strong international competition.
  • To show to mankind that , on occasions, the Family of Man can be united.
  • To raise money for the provision of recreational facilities in London.
  • To help London tourism.
  • To prove that when it comes to organising major events, "Britain is Best."
  • To have fun and provide some happiness and sense of achievement in a troubled world.

A £50,000 sponsorship from Gillette saved the day and the inaugural race went off on March 29, 1981. After a grueling 26.2 mile (42 K) race, American Dick Beardsley and Norwegian Inge Simonsen crossed the finish line in a dead heat, hand-in-hand. The women's winner was Britain's Joyce Smith, who set a national record. Entrants in the first race numbered 7,747; the second year 90,000 people applied to race. Since 1981, more than 500,000 people have completed in the London Marathon. It is also the United Kingdom's biggest one day charity fundraising event; In 2000, £24 million was raised for charities.

In case you're interested, the 2004 London Marathon will go off at 09:45 on Sunday, April 18th, 2004; entries start in August. On your mark;


London Marathon Winners:

Women


1981 Joyce Smith (GBR) 2:29:57
1982 Joyce Smith (GBR) 2:29:43
1983 Grete Waitz (NOR) 2:25:29
1984 Ingrid Kristiansen (NOR) 2:24:26
1985 Ingrid Kristiansen (NOR) 2:21:06
1986 Grete Waitz (NOR) 2:24:54
1987 Ingrid Kristiansen (NOR)2:22:48
1988 Ingrid Kristiansen (NOR) 2:25:41
1989 Veronique Marot (GBR) 2:25:56
1990 Wanda Panfil (POL) 2:26:31
1991 Rosa MOta (POR) 2:26:14
1992 Katrin Dörre (GER) 2:29:39
1993 Katrin Dörre (GER) 2:27:09
1994 Katrin Dörre (GER) 2:32:34
1995 Malgorzata Sobanska (POL) 2:27:43
1996 Liz McColgan (GBR) 2:27:54
1997 Joyce Chepchumba (KEN) 2:26:51
1998 Catherine McKiernan (IRL) 2:26:26
1999 Joyce Chepchumba (KEN) 2:23:22
2000 Telga Loroupe (KEN) 2:24:33
2001 Derartu Tulu (ETH) 2:23:57
2002 Paula Radcliffe (GBR) 2:18:56
2003 Paula Radcliffe (GBR) 2:15:25
*Paula Radcliffe's time in this years race broke her own record as well as the world record.

Men

1981 Inge Simonsen (NOR) and Dick Beardsley (USA) 2:11:48
1982 Hugh Jones (GBR) 2:09:24
1983 Mike Grafton (GBR) 2:09:43
1984 Charlie Spedding (GBR) 2:09:57
1985 Steve Jones (GBR) 2:08:16
1986 Toshihiko Seko (JPN) 2:10:02
1987 Hiromi Taniguchi (JPN) 2:09:50
1988 Henrik Jörgensen (DEN) 2:10:20
1989 Douglas Wakihuri (KEN) 2:09:03
1990 Alister Hutton (GBR) 2:10:10
1991 Jakow Tolstikow (RUS) 2:09:17
1992 Antonio Pinto (POR) 2:10:02
1993 Eamonn Martin (GBR) 2:10:50
1994 Dionicio Ceron (MEX) 2:08:53
1995 Dionicio Ceron (MEX) 2:08:30
1996 Dionicio Ceron (MEX) 2:10:00
1997 Antonio Pinto (POR) 2:07:55
1998 Abel Anton (ESP) 2:07:57
1999 Abdelkadel El Mouaziz (MAR) 2:07:57
2000 Antonio Pinto (POR) 2:06:36
2001 Abdelkadel El Mouaziz (MAR) 2:07:11
2002 Khalid Khannouchi (USA) 2:05:38
2003 Gezahegne Abera (ETH) 2:07:56


Sources:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/other_sports/specials/london_marathon_2002/1906765.stm
http://www.mysouthwark.co.uk/southwark/arts-flora_marathon_history.htm />
http://www.uli-sauer.de/laufen/london/hall_of_fame_e.htm

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