Brendan Foster

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For other people with a similar name, see Brenden Foster and Brandon Foster.
Brendan Foster
Medal record
Men's athletics
Representing the  United Kingdom
Olympic Games
Bronze 1976 Montréal 10,000 metres
European Championships
Gold 1974 Rome 5000 m
Commonwealth Games
Gold 1978 Edmonton 10,000 m
Silver 1974 Christchurch 5,000 m

Brendan Foster CBE (born 12 January 1948 in Hebburn, County Durham, England) is a British former long-distance runner who founded the Great North Run. He won the Bronze medal in the 10,000 metres at the 1976 Summer Olympics, the 5000 metres at the 1974 European Championships and the 10,000 metres at the 1978 Commonwealth Games.

Early life[edit]

Educated at St Joseph's Grammar School, the University of Sussex and Carnegie College of Physical Education, Foster returned to St Joseph's Grammar School as a chemistry teacher. His pupils included footballer turned manager Phil Brown, whom he tried to encourage to take up running over football.[1]

Athletics career[edit]

Brendan Foster's athletic career saw him compete in three Olympic Games, claiming Britain a track and field medal (bronze in the 10,000 metres) at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. In 1973 he broke the World Record for two miles at Crystal Palace with a time of 8:13.68. In 1974 he won a silver medal in the Commonwealth Games in Christchurch in a time of 13:14.6 behind Ben Jipcho before winning the European Championships 5,000m, beating Olympic champion Lasse Virén en route to Gold in 13:17.2, having built up such a commanding lead before the final lap that he ran it in a relatively sedate 62 seconds when the then world record was within his grasp. In the same year he broke the 3,000m World Record on his home track, Gateshead International Stadium with a time of 7:35.1. That year, Foster was awarded the BBC's prestigious Sports Personality of the Year award.

He established his personal best in the 10,000m with a time of 27:30.3 run at Crystal Palace on 23 June 1978, while also winning 10,000m Gold at the 1978 Commonwealth Games in Edmonton. Foster was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 1976.

Foster only placed fourth in the 1978 European Athletics Championships 10,000-metre race, but he ran faster than any 10,000-metre European Champion has run ever since (see various European countries' books about the European Athletics Championships from 1982 to 2006). Foster finished fifth in the 1976 Olympics 5,000-metre final, just 1.4 seconds behind the winner, Lasse Viren of Finland (see, for example, "The Montreal Olympic Book" / Montrealin olympiakirja, written by Matti Hannus and published in Finland in 1976). Interestingly, Foster lost all his three Olympic races against Viren — the 1976 Olympics 10,000 metres and 5,000 metres and the 1980 Olympics 10,000 metres.[2][3] In the prelims to the 1976 5,000 he broke Viren's Olympic record running 13:20.34. That record would hold through the final until it was surpassed in the final of the 1984 Olympics.

Foster's final major race was the 1980 Olympics 10,000-metre final, where he finished eleventh, almost 40 seconds behind the winner, Ethiopia's Miruts Yifter (see, for example, "The Moscow Olympic Book" / Moskovan olympiakirja, written by the "Runner" / Juoksija magazine and published in Finland in 1980).

In 2010, he was inducted into the England Athletics Hall of Fame.

Business, media and other activities[edit]

Brendan joined the sports company Nike International Limited in 1981 as UK Managing Director. Progressing to European Managing Director, Vice President Marketing (Worldwide) and Vice President of Nike Europe. In 1988 he set up a company, Nova International with three friends from Nike.[4] This company was later renamed to View From International, which won a contract to supply the British athletics team. The brand was later sold to Marks and Spencer in 2002 for an estimated £2m.[5][6] Foster has played a significant role in introducing the raw athletic talent displayed by Ethiopian and other African athletes to the world of sport. He has great in-depth knowledge and appreciation of these athletes who demonstrate undisputed athletic abilities despite lack of financial resources available to them in their home land.

Since retiring from the sport after the Moscow Olympics in 1980, Foster has worked for BBC Television, commentating and reporting on Athletics at every major event since 1983.

In 1981, Foster founded the Great North Run. The 2005 race was the 25th staging of the event, in which over half a million people have taken part over the years. The event regularly attracts over 50,000 entrants, making it (as it has been every year since 1981) the UK's biggest road race, with only the London Marathon coming close to challenging it for numbers of participants. In 2003, Brendan ran the Great North Run himself for the first time in many years after an on air challenge from Ray Stubbs of the BBC at the 2002 event.

The first ever fun run in the UK was pioneered by Foster; called the “Gateshead Fun Run”, it was held in Gateshead in 1977, one year before what was once thought to be the first ever, the Sunday Times Run.[7]

In 2013 the 33rd Great North Run had 56000 participants most of whom were raising money for charity. The elite races had Olympic Gold Medalists and World Champion long distance runners participateing including in the men's race, Mo Farah, Kenenisa Bekele and a regular supporter of the event Haile Gebrselassie. Ethiopian Bekele won the men's event just ahead of Farah. Kenya's Priscah Jeptoo came first the women's race and multi Olympic Gold Medalist David Weir won the wheelchair event.[8] The founder of the event, Brendan Foster is reported to be looking forward to 2014 when the Great North Run have its millionth finisher – becoming the first International Athletics Association Event (IAAF) event in the world to reach such a milestone.[9]

Foster was Chancellor of Leeds Metropolitan University from 2005 to 2009.[10] He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2008 New Year Honours.

References and notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Hull boss Phil Brown takes on Great North Run challenge". Daily Mirror. 2009-09-16. Retrieved 2009-09-16. 
  2. ^ Hannus, Matti; "The Thousand Stars of Athletics" ("Tuhat yleisurheilun tähteä"), published in Finland, 1983
  3. ^ Butcher, Pat; "The Perfect Distance — Ovett & Coe: The Record-Breaking Rivalry", Weidenfeld&Nicolson, London, 2004
  4. ^ "Brendan Foster takes gold in a very different arena". The Independent. 1997-07-01. Retrieved 2009-11-14. 
  5. ^ "M&S adds View From sportwear to its line up". The Independent. 2002-06-06. Retrieved 2009-11-14. 
  6. ^ "Olympic hero sells sports brand". BBC. 2002-06-05. Retrieved 2009-11-14. 
  7. ^ Engelbrecht, Gavin (2013-06-05). "North-East fun run was first in the UK". Northern Echo (thenorthernecho.co.uk). 
  8. ^ "Great North Run: Mo Farah narrowly beaten as thousands run". British Broadcasting Corp. 15 September 2013. Retrieved 18 September 2013. 
  9. ^ Kelly, Mike (16 September 2013). "Great North Run: The event that continues to give". The Journal. Retrieved 18 September 2013. 
  10. ^ BBC News Leeds Metropolitan University Chancellor
  • The Olympic record which Foster set in 1976 was at 5,000 metres. He ran it in 13:20.34 (see, for example, "The Montreal Olympic Book" by Matti Hannus or "The Gilded Spikes" / Kullatut piikkarit, edited by Antero Raevuori).

External links[edit]

Records
Preceded by
Belgium Emiel Puttemans
Men's 3,000m World Record Holder
3 August 1974 – 27 June 1978
Succeeded by
Kenya Henry Rono
Awards
Preceded by
Scotland Jackie Stewart
BBC Sports Personality of the Year
1974
Succeeded by
England David Steele
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Belgium Emiel Puttemans
Men's 3.000m Best Year Performance
1973–74
Succeeded by
New Zealand Rod Dixon