Steve Jones (runner)

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Steve Jones
Steve Jones Boston 2018.jpg
Steve Jones speaking to a running group in Boston, August 2018
Personal information
Birth nameStephen Henry Jones
Born (1955-08-04) 4 August 1955 (age 64)
Tredegar, Wales
Height5 ft 10 in (178 cm)
Weight137 lb (62 kg)
Country Great Britain
Event(s)10,000 m, Marathon
ClubNewport Harriers, RAF
Achievements and titles
World finals1983
10,000 m, 12th
Marathon, 13th
Olympic finals1984
10,000 m, 8th
Personal best(s)

Stephen Henry Jones MBE (born 4 August 1955) is a Welsh athlete and set the former world record in the marathon, in his first completed race at that distance at the Chicago Marathon in 1984 with 2:08:05.


Jones grew up in Ebbw Vale, Wales and ran his first race at the age of 15 as a member of the Air Training Corps. Dissatisfied with working in a factory as a sewing-machine mechanic, he became an aircraft technician for the Royal Air Force (RAF) in 1974, and joined the RAF's running team in 1976. After receiving an invitation to the 1983 Chicago Marathon Jones began training for that distance; he previously had specialized in the 5,000 and 10,000 m,[1] and on 6 Aug 1984, he ran the 1984 Olympic 10,000 m event. He finished 8th with a time of 28:28.08.[2]

Steve Jones winning the Swindon (UK) Half Marathon in October 1984

On 21 Oct 1984, the following year after he dropped out of the Chicago Marathon because of injury, Jones won the event—his first completed marathon—with a time of 2:08:05, breaking the world record of Australian Robert de Castella by 13 seconds.[2] Jones was unaware of the record and, since he never wore a watch, did not know that he might break it until two miles before the finish. He won the 1985 London Marathon in 2:08:16 despite stopping to go to the toilet during the event; Jones later said, "I didn't even train for [the race]", instead continuing to coach himself. Aware that he was "one hamstring tear away from oblivion", Jones remained with the RAF despite earning large sums per race. In August 1985, he broke the world record for the half marathon, running 61:14 in Birmingham. On 20 October of that year he achieved his personal best marathon time of 2:07:13 in winning the Chicago Marathon,[1] only one second slower than the world record run by Carlos Lopes at the Rotterdam Marathon earlier that same year. This time was the fastest of any British runner for 33 years until Mo Farah beat it in 2018.[3]

In 1986, he won a bronze medal in the 10,000 m at the Commonwealth Games. In the European Championships shortly after, he once again competed in the marathon. Leading from the start and breaking away from the pack, Jones ran a brilliant race up to the 20 mile mark. At that point he was leading by over two minutes and on schedule for another world record. However, he then "hit the wall" and suffered terribly in the final six miles. He slowed to a virtual shuffle, but refused to quit as he watched other competitors catch and pass him. Two years later, in the 1988 New York City Marathon, Jones won by over three minutes with a time of 2:08:20.

He was the first Welsh athlete to appear on the cover of the prestigious running magazine Running Times.

He received an MBE on 8 June 2019.

Jones lives in Boulder, Colorado.[1]


Year Competition Venue Position Event Notes
Representing  Great Britain and  Wales
1983 World Championships Helsinki, Finland 12th 10,000 m 28:15.03
Chicago Marathon Chicago, United States DNF Marathon
1984 World Cross Country Championships New York, United States 3rd Senior race 33:32
Olympic Games Los Angeles, United States 8th 10,000 m 28:28.08
Chicago Marathon Chicago, United States 1st Marathon 2:08:05 WR
1985 London Marathon London, United Kingdom 1st Marathon 2:08:16 CR
Chicago Marathon Chicago, United States 1st Marathon 2:07:13 CR/NR
1986 European Championships Stuttgart, West Germany 20th Marathon 2:22:12
1986 Commonwealth Games Edinburgh, Scotland 3rd 10,000 m 28:02.48
1987 Boston Marathon Boston, United States 2nd Marathon 2:12:37
1988 New York City Marathon New York, United States 1st Marathon 2:08:20 CR
1990 Commonwealth Games Auckland, New Zealand 4th Marathon 2:12:44
1992 Toronto Shoppers Drug Mart Marathon Toronto, Canada 1st Marathon 2:10:06
1993 World Championships Stuttgart, Germany 13th Marathon 2:20:04

Popular culture[edit]

In 2010, a video went viral featuring the Welshman's dramatic, tenacious finish to outrun the Tanzanian runner Gidamis Shahanga in the closing 80 metres of a 10000 metres race after being got caught with 110 metres remaining. Due to the vivid commentary the video is often featured in videos of "inspirational sports moments" or "remarkable comebacks".

In the race, Jones was leading from the start with 30 metres margins up until the last 400 metres, at which point the commentary noted "But they are closing. And of course he (Jones) got very little finishing speed". Then Shahanga closed in rapidly. With 200 metres remaining, Jones glimpsed back and saw Shahanga, with the commentary famously noted, "Jones' looking for trouble and the trouble is there". Shahanga caught Jones with 110 metres remaining, when commentary noted "the African is going to steal the race in the last 80 metres", yet as soon the comment is made, Jones managed to comeback, accelerate and win the race with the time 27:55.2s. This 10000-meter run was an invitational race held in Memorial Van Damme Stadium, Brussels, 1983, hence not recognised in official competitive records.[4]


  1. ^ a b c Barker, Sarah (21 May 2014). ""I Never Wore A Watch": Running Lessons From A Record-Breaking Everyman". Deadspin. Retrieved 21 May 2014.
  2. ^ a b "IAAF: Steve JONES | Profile". Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  3. ^ Bank of America Chicago Marathon: What You Need to Know Retrieved 9 October 2010
  4. ^ "Episode 100 - Steve Jones (Part One)" (Interview). Marathon Talk. 7 December 2011 (actual interview start from t=45:00. Check date values in: |date= (help)
Preceded by
Australia Robert De Castella
Men's Marathon World Record Holder
21 October 1984 – 20 April 1985
Succeeded by
Portugal Carlos Lopes