Jim Peters (athlete)

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Jim Peters
Personal information
Full nameJames Henry Peters
Born(1918-10-24)24 October 1918
Hackney, London, England
Died9 January 1999(1999-01-09) (aged 80)
Thorpe Bay, Southend-on-Sea, Essex, England
ClubEssex Beagles
Medal record

James Henry Peters (24 October 1918 in Hackney, London – 9 January 1999 in Thorpe Bay, Essex) was a long-distance runner from England. He broke the world record for the men's marathon four times in the 1950s. He was the first runner to complete a marathon in under 2 hours 20 minutes – an achievement which was equated to the breaking of the four-minute mile.[citation needed] He achieved this at the Polytechnic Marathon of 1953, a point-to-point race from Windsor to Chiswick, West-London. Later the same year Peters set the first sub-2:20 clocking on an out-and-back course, at the Enschede Marathon in the Netherlands.

At the 1954 Vancouver Commonwealth Games he reached the stadium in first place, 17 minutes ahead of the next runner and 10 minutes ahead of the record, but collapsed repeatedly and failed to finish. After covering just 200 metres in 11 minutes, he was stretchered away and never raced again. "I was lucky not to have died that day", he later said.[citation needed] His games kit, including plimsolls and the special medal which following the games the Duke of Edinburgh sent to Jim inscribed "To a most gallant marathon runner." were given to the Sports Hall of Fame, Vancouver in 1967 for exhibition.

He served as president of the then recently formed Road Runners Club from 1955 - 1956. After retiring from competitive athletics, Peters worked as an optician in Mitcham, Surrey and Chadwell Heath, Essex.


Year Competition Venue Position Event Notes
Representing  United Kingdom
1948 Olympic Games London, United Kingdom 8th 10,000 metres 31:16.0
1952 Polytechnic Marathon Windsor, Berkshire, United Kingdom 1st Marathon 2:20:42.2 WR
1952 Olympic Games Helsinki, Finland Marathon DNF
1953 Polytechnic Marathon Windsor, Berkshire, United Kingdom 1st Marathon 2:18:40.2 WR
1953 Enschede Marathon Enschede, Netherlands 1st Marathon 2:19:22
1954 Polytechnic Marathon Windsor, Berkshire, United Kingdom 1st Marathon 2:17:39.4 WR

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Suh Yun-Bok
Men's Marathon World Record Holder
14 June 1952 – 24 August 1958
Succeeded by
Sergei Popov