Christopher William Brasher CBE August 21st 1928 - February 28th 2003

World Student Games Gold and Silver medallist 1951
Olympic competitor 1952
Empire Games competitor 1954
Four-minute mile pacer 1954
Olympic Gold medallist 1956
Sports Writers' Association of the UK Sportsman of the Year 1956
Sports Editor of 'The Observer', 1957-61
Columnist for 'The Observer', 1961-91
Co-founder and Chairman of the British Orienteering Federation 1966-69
British Sports Journalist of the Year 1968 and 1976
Head of General Features, BBC Television, 1969-72
Co-founder and Trustee of the John Muir Trust
Co-founder and Trustee of the Knoydart Foundation
Co-founder and Life President of the London Marathon
President Emeritus of the Association of International Marathons
President of the British Association of Road Races
Outdoor Writers' Guild Golden Boot Award 1990 for innovation in the outdoor world
Founder and Chairman of the Chris Brasher Trust
Commander of the British Empire 1996
Outdoor Writers' Guild Golden Eagle Award 1999 for services to the outdoor world
Chairman of the Petersham Trust 1999-2003
Ron Pickering Award for Service to British Athletics 2002
President of the Sports Writers' Association of the UK 2002
President of the Friends of The Ridgeway
Council Member of the Racehorse Owners' Association
Sports Industry Lifetime Achievement Award 2003
Founder of the Sweat Shop, Fleetfoot and the Brasher Boot Company.
Author of 'The Red Snow' (with Sir John Hunt), 'Sportsmen of our Time', 'Tokyo 1964, A Diary of the XVIIIth Olympiad', 'Mexico 1968, A Diary of the XIXth Olympiad' and 'Munich 1972'.
Member of Thames Hare and Hounds and the Achilles Club
Life Member of Ranelagh Harriers

"I couldn't take it off that bloody woman".
CB on his refusal to accept an honour while Margaret Thatcher was in office.

"Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?"
Robert Browning - CB's favourite quotation.

"The image of the huffing, teeth-gritted bespectacled pacemaker in front of the loping Roger Bannister was the first public memory of him."
Brough Scott in 'The Sunday Telegraph', March 2003

"The gun fired...Brasher went into the lead and I slipped in
effortlessly behind him, feeling tremendously full of running. We seemed to be going so slowly! Impatiently I shouted 'Faster!'. But Brasher kept his head and did not change the pace. I kept on worrying until I heard the first lap time, 57.5 sec
In the excitement my knowledge of pace had deserted me. Brasher could have run the first quarter in 55 seconds without my realising it, because I felt so full of running, but I should have had to pay for it later. Instead he made success possible....
The stop watches held the answer. The announcement came - 'Result of one mile...time, 3 minutes..' - the rest was lost in the roar of excitement. I grabbed Brasher and Chataway, and together we scampered round the track in a burst of spontaneous joy. We had done it.
Roger Bannister in 'First Four Minutes', 1955

"The facts of the first four-minute mile were that Chris Chataway and I had the task of pacing Bannister for the first three and a half laps so that he, relaxed behind us, could unleash that fantastic sprint which he drew, not from his physical strength, but from his nervous energy. But to both of us it was not as simple as that. We confessed to each other afterwards that we had both dreamed of beating Bannister, of hanging on as he came past and then taking him in the finishing straight. It may sound farcical, but an athlete does not reason - he only believes in the impossible.
Twenty-four hours after it was all over, after Chris and I had 'died' the second our tasks were completed, leaving Bannister to go on alone, all three of us went for a walk over Harrow Hill as the light faded. There was in that hour or two a closeness, man to man, such as I had never experienced before or since. We had trained together and fought together. We had been rivals and one man had proved himself incomparably the best. Yet there was no resentment - just a sweet relish of the past, a companionship of the moment and resolutions, idealistic all of them, for the future."
CB in 'Mexico 1968, A Diary of the XIXth Olympiad'

"As an athlete, I was a nonentity, a fraud. Roger had been overly generous in acknowledging what Chris and I had done. My one moment of fame, and I'd achieved it riding on somebody else's back. It made me desperate to show in some other event that it was possible for me to do something."
CB on his switch to steeplechasing

"One of my memories of Chris was in a 3000 metres steeplechase at the White City in the 1950s. He was with the leading group when he went crashing down at the water jump. He lost a lot of ground.... and his spectacles. But Chris found them in the water, got up and chased after the field whilst at the same time drying the lenses with a handkerchief, and went on to win the race."
Mike Rowland (Ranelagh Harriers)

"We would talk about the best runners and their coaches. Stampfl had great time for the Hungarian coach, Igloi, but after meeting with him Franz said that although Igloi was undoubtedly a great coach, he didn't have the ability to make a man go beyond the point at which he thinks he is going to die. If you were prepared to go out and die, Franz was the man to prepare you."
CB on his coach, Franz Stampfl

"My spikes weighed three and three-quarter ounces, and there were no lighter spikes for 12 years until all the synthetic materials came along. I was determined not to leave anything to chance. I had contact lenses made in case it rained at the time of the race."
CB on his preparations for the Melbourne Olympic Steeplechase

"Heavy shoulders, thick thighs, solid frame, almost bulldoggish. And typically English, game to the last."
British Olympic Association magazine, Melbourne 1956, reporting on CB's Steeplechase victory

"Blind drunk, totally blotto, with an asinine grin on my face."
CB on his condition at the Melbourne Steeplechase medal ceremony. It had been delayed following
CB's initial disqualification and the press had kept him company in the bar.

"Well done the old scrubber!"
Telegram to CB in Melbourne from his training partners in London

"He is five per cent ability and ninety-five per cent guts."
Chris Chataway after CB's victory in Melbourne
"Many years ago while out with CB and Colin Miles, we were crossing the Thames at Teddington Lock when some wise guy at the kissing gate uttered the immortal words....'Who do you think you are, Chris Chataway?'. Hilarious to both Colin and me, but not so funny to CB!"
Ian Milne (Ranelagh Harriers)

"Afterwards Spike Milligan for the Goons protested that the umpire Chris Brasher had ignored a royal command to twist the game in their favour."
'Reynolds News' on the tiddlywinks challenge match between the Goons and the Cambridge University Tiddlywinks Club, 1958.

"I was interviewing the Duke of Windsor about the eminent heart surgeon, Michael DeBakey. The duke had been a patient of Dr DeBakey's, but, in answering my first question, he stuttered. That jolted me back to my youth and I stuttered. The duke thought I was taking the mickey. He was not amused."
CB on overcoming his stutter as a television reporter.

"The plot was launched in a pub, the Dysart Arms, close by Richmond Park. The cast included four men from the Pru, an actor, a retired surgeon and the deputy chief of the Economic Intelligence Department of the Bank of England. The motive was to prove that southerners are not so effete as northerners would have us believe. The location was to be on northern ground: the Pennines, that high, ridged backbone of England along which runs the Pennine Way. It is 267 and a half miles in length and it crosses the boggiest, the most desolate and mind-bending landscape in our island.
We used it as a racetrack for which we apologise and blame the northerners. It was, after all, a northern club, Clayton-le-Moors Harriers, who first set the record: in 1970 they took 34 hours 54 min 57 sec for those 267 and a half miles. Clayton are renowned for their fell running ability; they all live within easy distance of much of the Pennine Way. So there did not seem to be much hope of an ordinary London cross-country club being able to challenge them.

Ranelagh Harriers are such an ordinary London cross-country club. They meet every Wednesday and Saturday in the Dysart Arms, run a distance, according to their age, in Richmond Park and then replace the lost liquid with the assistance of a benevolent landlord. Like all ordinary British cross-country clubs, Ranelagh contains a high proportion of extraordinary, mildly eccentric, charming people. Naturally it was during one of those lost liquid-replacing sessions that the plan was born. We - I must now confess that I am a member - would try to hold Clayton on the mountains and then beat them for speed in the valleys.

Reconnaissance parties set off northwards; squelched over sodden moors; collapsed into northern pubs; consumed huge northern meals and large quantities of northern beer. By the end of May every one of the 105 sections had been reccied by at least one runner. And so one Saturday morning in the early part of this glorious summer we took up our stations along the way. It seems folly to believe that the carefully laid plan would work: 105 change-overs, often on remote cols, had to be made; 24 fragile athletes had to avoid injury; 16 drivers had to find their way over a total of some six to seven thousand miles in cars which must not break down.

(There follows a marvellous account of CB's own stages, alas too lengthy to repeat in full here)
At five on Sunday morning I left them to go and stand on a Scottish mountain for the telly. But I have heard, in the Dysart, of how the mist came down over Great Dun Fell and Cross Fell and three quarters of an hour were lost. And most of all I have heard of the epic on the Cheviots where the hail turned to rain and summit plateaux became moving lakes of water and they knew that if they stopped running they would quickly cool to death. There were men up there, strong men who have run marathons, who wept with relief when they completed their section.
In the end the club captain Jim Forrest came down into Kirk Yetholm 33 hours 41 minutes and 15 seconds after he had left the Old Nag's Head. The champagne was broken out and we all felt a profound respect for Clayton-le-Moors, who had set such a fine inaugural time and who will no doubt beat our record one day. For our part we plan to do it again - in 1981, the year of the club's centenary. And if you want to know why then it is plain that you are not an eccentric cross-country runner. Quite simply, for us, it was one of the happiest and most satisfying weekends - one that still provides many a rich memory over the beer in the Dysart Arms."
CB in 'The Observer', July 1971.

"I remember Chris affectionately as a man with the capacity to inspire every single emotion in a friend or colleague all at the same time, generous to a fault, self indulgent to a fault, and an excellent companion. The stories about him are legion. Two examples of one side of his character follow.
The first concerns the Pennine Way run itself. What Chris conveniently forgot to mention in his account was that he gave us no warning that he was to leave us north of Bellingham to go up to the Old Man of Hoy for the filming of a TV programme involving Joe Brown climbing up the vertical rock. This left us not only one man short, but with no plan to make up the shortfall. Bill Bird and Ian Macintosh stepped into the breach, doubling up on their remaining stages, and of course Chris was not actually present at the finish.
The second concerns our original recceing. This took place in March 1971, and CB and I did a relay up it, taking roughly 7 to 10 mile stretches each at a time. The plan was for one of us to run a stretch while the other drove to the end, left the car and set off on the next stretch. The incoming runner would pick up the car and drive to the next end point to pick the second runner up.
The first day Chris took stage 1 over Kinder to the Snake Pass. I took my car, an MGB soft top, to the Snake Pass and set off across Bleaklow. In those days there were only a few finger posts, no PW signs, and definitely no worn track to follow, especially in March. The top of the Snake Pass is a flat, exposed and featureless moor, and I had to find a place to leave the car, and find the right route to follow. I'd never been there before, so was a bit uncertain about being in the right place. In addition the terrain was all peat groughs and bogs, and what with slithering up and down the groughs and trying to avoid the bottomless bogs, there was no possibility of running a straight line or looking ahead for landmarks: I was entirely reliant on the twin Cs, compass and confidence.

So I was rather pleased when I ran down towards the road near Crowden, where I had expected Chris to be already sitting there in my car waiting for me. However, as I descended, I could see my car was not there, so the second of those twin Cs immediately started to dip. Was I in the right place? Checking map and geography, it certainly looked right, but it is amazing how the unexpected can breed uncertainty. I waited half an hour or so, getting cold and shivery as the hot sweat congealed on me. Had I left the car in the right place? Had it still been there when Chris finished his bit? (It was an easy car to steal remember, in a very exposed site, with the key under the wheel). Indeed, had he had a problem, fallen, sprained an ankle, broken a leg, whatever?
As the light faded, I started jogging up and down the road in search of confirmation that I was in the right place, and in the hope that I would see Chris in some out of sight nearby spot. But it was some hour and a half later, and after I had climbed a good way up the hill-side again to get a better look, before I heard the familiar sound of an MGB and yes, saw Chris coming into view. Was I glad to see him? He clambered out of the car, fully dried-off and clothed, including red-spotted cravat, and with no hint of recognition of my hour and a half discomfort, simply announced with that infectious mischievous grin of his that he'd found a superb tea shop in Glossop where he'd made himself comfortable with numerous cups of strong tea and sticky buns before coming to pick me up. He then told me to run back up the hill so he could take a picture of me running down again! The thought that I could have gone wrong, or he could have gone wrong, or anything else could have gone wrong just did not cross his mind."
Ian Milne (Ranelagh Harriers)

"My lasting memory of him will be waiting on a dark, damp, desolate change-over point on the Pennines to hear a cry then a surging dark mass come pounding down the slope with his headlamp bobbing on his forehead, a quick "off, off", my runner was gone and Chris stood there with no sign of strain or pain that all of us lesser mortals would have displayed. Then he was off for his next sector."
Dave Campbell (Ranelagh Harriers)

"I fondly recall many encounters with the irascible, loveable old bastard. One memory was the fated 1987 Pennine Way attempt (which Peter Haarer will recall with a shudder) when we decided to abandon it after falling into a bog about 1 am on Cross Fell, because we stood on the backs of two drowned sheep mistaking them for tussocks. Brasher was the first person I reported back to, and I expected a thorough bollocking. He took my word on the conditions and the judgement without turning a hair. We even got a write up in The Observer."
John Pratt (Ranelagh Harriers)

"Our last section, four miles over Bleaklow, was scheduled to take just 30 minutes. Four of us set out and I led my companions through weird gyrations. Wain Stones were visited at least three times and we eventually headed off down the wrong stream and were picked up, two miles from our cars and three hours after leaving them, by the police who had warned the mountain rescue to stand by. The only casualty was my pride and pride is a deadly sin. Never in forty years of wandering on British hills have I made such a navigational error. Never have the mountain rescue had to stand by. The hills make all men equal and teach the truth that no-one is infallible."
CB in 'The Observer', July 1987, on a recce trip for the PW relay referred to above by John Pratt

"You must find something that nobody else has ever attempted - and then you are certain to achieve the inaugural world record. So we set the rules for a relay race along the South Downs Way; three men per team - or women, or mixed - and one car; terminal points to be Sunwood Farm, south of Petersfield and the trig point on Beachy Head; route 71 miles in all.
And so it came about that 'our' team found themselves staring blankly out of the window of a Petersfield hotel at 9.30 last Saturday morning and contemplating the rain. The thought occurred that it might be better to go home and watch the Cup Final on television instead of running 23 or 24 miles each and climbing some 3,000 ft. But cowardice, mental cowardice, got the better of us. We couldn't face the taunts of those already on the course since 8am.

So we set forth. 'We' being Ian Macintosh, a man from the Pru; Ian Milne, a boffin from the Central Electricity Generating Board, henceforth known as the Sunderland man (this was Brasher's journalistic license to make a good story, much to my father's bemusement. I was born in Wallsend which makes me a Newcastle man. Sunderland were playing Leeds in the FA cup final and scored the winner at the same time that I ran a leg two minutes faster than schedule. Chris reported this as telepathic inspiration....IM); and this middle-aged journalist. At 10.16am I took the first leg. It soon became obvious that anybody abroad that day did not realise the importance of this world record-breaking attempt because as I leapt off the cart track to cross the first road a man in a green Renault came hurtling up the hill. No dedicated athlete should allow anything to interfere with a world record attempt and I suppose he wasn't to know. We both came to a grinding halt within two inches of each other and I accelerated away making certain signs before he could wind down the window and give voice.
At 6.20pm we came to Beachy Head and only the wind was our witness. But then it was after opening time. Over pints we swapped times. Thames Valley Harriers, 8 hr 17 min, Ranelagh I, 8 hr 26 min, Ranelagh II, 8 hr 42 min, and 'our' team 8 hr 4 min 43.6 sec.
News of this triumph travelled fast. Next day Dave Bedford rang to offer his congratulations. Nice of him, but then of course it was a world record. And it has started intense speculation about the possibility of breaking the eight-hour barrier. So you athletes of Britain go to it while the Sunderland man, the man from the Pru and I contemplate our world record plaque from the comfort of the saloon bar of the Dysart Arms."
CB in 'The Observer', May 1973

"I have just taken part, for the first time, in one of the best sports in the world. It is hard to know what to call it. The Norwegians call it 'Orientation'.
CB in 'The Observer', 1957, writing from Trondheim, Norway, after taking part for the first time in what came to be known as Orienteering

"Orienteering is still a very new word to many runners in this country and the sport is not widely practiced. On Monday evening July 5th 1965, Chris Brasher organised a score Orienteering competition starting from the Dysart Arms. Apart from other attractions, Orienteering is the answer for the man who welcomes a breather between bouts of running! It is heartening indeed to find a sport in which this behaviour, frowned upon in cross-country running, is not only acceptable but inevitable!
After the event a meeting was held at the Dysart Arms and the 'Southern Navigators' club was formed to promote the sport further in the south. A further group was also elected to form the committee of the Southern Orienteering Association. This is made up of Chris Brasher and John Disley of the Southern Navigators, Jeff Bull, Ranelagh, and Ralph Domican and Martin Hyman of the Occasional Orienteers".
Ranelagh Harriers Gazette, September 1965

"The trouble with Orienteering is Chris Brasher...".
Michael Green in 'Even Coarser Sport'

"At the BOF we have developed the Chris Brasher rule after ten years of experience and when CB's entry finally arrived we knew that everyone had had more than enough time to enter".
The British Orienteering Federation after printing problems had delayed the distribution of entry forms for the 1980 National Championships.

"Another memory of CB was in about 1980 when I persuaded him to go for a long run after an international orienteering event (the Jan Kjellstrom) in Sheffield. He suggested Kinder Scout. I'd never been there and he told me he would 'complete my education'. We galloped up and across to the downfall where the wind was blowing the river back up over the edge, then via Jacobs Ladder to tea at the café in Edale. I was about 35 so he must have been well into his fifties and the only time I could keep up with him was on the uphill start."
John Pratt (Ranelagh Harriers)

"My vivid memory of Chris is running with him in the Lake District. He was 15 years older than me and slowing down just a bit, but the competitive streak was still there. I remember that when we slowed to admire the view or to climb over a wall, I'd look up and suddenly he was 20 metres ahead and challenging us to catch him."
Mike Hubbert (Richmond Harriers, Melbourne, and Ranelagh Harriers)

"Two years ago I saw Joss come down off the Langdale Fells in a rainstorm at three in the morning. He had already been running for 17 hours and had traversed more than 40 peaks. He ate and drank and then set off again into the rain and dark to raise his own record for the Lakeland 24 hour run to 63 peaks traversed. Those few hours, when I tried vainly to stay with him as the rain drummed on my hood so fiercely as to obliterate all thought, are still a memory equal to any of the greatest Olympic races that I have ever seen."
CB on Joss Naylor in 'The Observer', June1974

"Another time he & I were up in the Lakes with Joss Naylor. We were to cross the Langdales on a route from Grasmere to Wasdale. My wife Lyn had driven us to the start, but before we started Chris insisted on a couple of pints of Guinness in Grasmere before we drove north to our start point below Dunmail Raise. When we got to that point, Joss and I lost no time in putting our shoes on and getting ready to climb the first of the fells (a 1 in 3 climb at best). However, we were soon met with a quick shout from Chris, who we discovered was busily filling his pipe, and stuffing his tobacco pouch into his bumbag. True to type, he puffed smoke on his way up Dunmail Raise letting us know in no uncertain terms that we were here to enjoy ourselves, not to take things too seriously."
Ian Milne (Ranelagh Harriers)

"A small group of us - CB included - was tackling one of those long distance 'go as you please' events in Surrey. It might perhaps have been the Tanners Marathon. Lunchtime found us passing an attractive country pub. 'It would have been nice to have stopped for a pint,' mused Chris. I produced the emergency fiver I had in the pocket of my shorts. 'Providential fellow!' cried Chris, and we all piled into the pub. It must have been a long time ago because a fiver was sufficient for pints all round with some change left over. Beers downed, we went to leave but Chris hung back, wistfully eyeing the cigars on display behind the bar. 'Have you enough change...?'. I had. And so the first twenty minutes of our afternoon session became a stroll while Chris enjoyed his post-prandial puff."
Steve Rowland (Ranelagh Harriers)

"Many of our stories relate typical acts of self-indulgence. But his charm and charisma meant that he was always forgiven these, not least because of the many many acts of generosity, unheralded, unsung and unacknowledged. I remember one of these at a dinner following a Thames mob match. This was in the eighties shortly after the opening of the new club house. That mob match coincided with the November Beaujolais Nouveau runs which were a popular yuppie pastime at the time. Just before we were to sit down Chris appeared in the Dysart and asked me to accompany him to his car. He opened the boot and proudly told me that he had just obtained two cases of Beaujolais Nouveau which he thought would go down rather well at the dinner. I was asked to help uncork them and set a bottle at each table. It was typical of Chris that he not only would not take payment for these, but would not even permit us to announce who had provided them never mind acknowledge his generosity in a more formal way! We tried to spread the word as quietly as we could, but I think that only a very few attendees at that dinner knew who had actually provided their free drink."
Ian Milne (Ranelagh Harriers)
(Chris turned this into a tradition and provided wine at many subsequent Ranelagh - Thames suppers even when not able to be present himself)

"On many occasions in the Dysart bar, in would walk Brasher. John Hills or Mary Smith would say to me 'Here comes your mate'. Brasher would walk round the bar to me and in hushed tones say, 'Can I borrow £10 to buy you a drink?' He would then buy a pint for Milne, another mate, one for himself and for me and then disappear out of the door. I can't really complain as every year my family holidayed in his cottage in Wales - rent free.
One summer we arranged to stay in Chris's cottage and Chris had been there himself the previous week and was in fact leaving on the day that we arrived. He had a 'slow cooker' and made a beautiful Welsh stew and left it for when we arrived - the lovely smell greeted us when we opened the cottage door. However, he had spent far too long preparing the meal and was late leaving the cottage to drive to a Midlands airport where he was to catch a plane to cover a top international athletics meeting in Belgium for 'The Observer'. The result was he missed the flight, missed the meeting and wrote his report from the lounge at the airport after watching the meeting on TV."
John Hanscomb (Ranelagh Harriers)

"On November 10th Chris Brasher, who had been keeping in close touch with Jennifer, visited the clinic. Pirie was upstairs in bed in a small room, his face to the wall, a skeleton. He had had enough. 'Can you get me out of here - they're starving me to death?' Bills were presented for nearly £1,000 for medicine but there was no money to pay them. Pirie was in effect a hostage. Brasher settled the account but Gordon was not allowed to leave until the cheque had cleared. Then John and Sylvia Disley came to take him home."
Dick Booth in 'The Impossible Hero', a biography of Gordon Pirie, Britain's leading track distance runner of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Pirie died of cancer a few weeks later in early 1991.

"Turner agreed with us when we say it is one of the best views in the world - a herd of cows grazing beside a majestic river. The view epitomizes what England is all about. In what other capital city would it have been preserved so lovingly?"
CB on the view over Petersham meadows from Richmond Hill.

"John Pratt and I met Chris at his office above the garage at his house in Petersham to discuss another attempt at the Pennine Way. After the meeting we walked across the meadows to the Rose of York for a pub lunch. I remember him discussing as we walked across the meadows how they must always be saved and not sold for development. Little was I to know that he would go on to be the prime force to achieve that and many thousands of people in the future have him to thank for what I believe is one of the finest views outside a mountain range."
Mike Riley (Ranelagh Harriers)

"This is the end of a love affair. Every four years, since the beginning of the 1950s, I have renewed a brief idealistic existence with this woman who transforms pure physical effort into an experience of spiritual beauty. Now she is a raddled old tart. It is not her fault. The sceptical world has courted her too fiercely and to me and other romantics she is dying under this treatment. How can you explain that one is falling out of love. How can one rationalise the love itself. It is a chemistry that makes one believe, with utter faith, that the Olympics are something much greater than sport. They are an example of men and women of all colours, creeds and races living together in harmony, striving for that supreme excellence of body and mind".
CB on the Olympic movement in 'Mexico 1968, A Diary of the XIXth Olympiad'

"Are we quite certain that we know what fanaticism has done to sport? There are limits, and I confess that I have been extremely slow in coming to this conclusion. And the reason for that is that people, especially journalists, have always talked about impossibilities - like the four minute mile or climbing Everest - and yet others, the doers rather than the talkers, have refused to acknowledge these limits and were proved to be right.
I wrestle with myself with one part of me standing back, as a good journalist should, and observing that it is all getting out of hand and fanatical. And the other part of me, that part that needs to get involved and test itself against the impossible barrier, saying that these are just the thoughts of a middle-aged man who has lost the fire in his belly.
What distresses me is that utter fanaticism about the human body leads to utter neglect of the mind, and thus to a negation of that completeness of life - the quality, the frame of mind, which treats sport as only a part of life - not the be-all and end-all of existence".
CB in 'Munich 72'

"We must change completely the showpiece of sport, the Olympic Games. We must stop them being a gladiatorial, nationalistic fight - a sort of substitute for war between nations. This means exorcising all nationalistic manifestations. A victory ceremony in which individuals are honoured with the Olympic anthem and the Olympic flag is far truer to the Olympic spirit than the present jingoistic affair. That, I can remember, is what I believed when I was a competitor in 1952 and 1956 and it is now an utter conviction."
CB in 'Munich 72'

"I was lucky enough to enjoy Chris's hospitality on a number of occasions. Like many others I stayed at the Brasher cottage in Snowdonia where the only rent expected was a little nettle clearance or some hacking away at the encroaching rhododendron jungle.
A few years earlier it had been a quite different kind of accommodation. Thanks to Chris, Ivan Boggis and I were unofficial guests of the Olympic Press Village car park in Munich in 1972. Chris was there covering the Games for 'The Observer' and, because he wanted to travel on to an Orienteering event in Czechoslovakia afterwards, he had driven to Munich in his camper van. This became Ivan's and my home for the duration. A spare pass got us into the press centre and athletes' village and Ivan even blagged his way into the stadium with it on one occasion.
Chris expressed a wish to take a look at the marathon course, so we decided to run the whole route over three days of eight or nine miles per day. The blue line was already down on the road and as we followed it on the last section through the city to the Olympic Park we were joined by a motor-cycle policeman. Naturally mistaking us for Olympic athletes he accompanied us all the way back, roaring ahead to stop the traffic for us at each intersection. We lengthened our stride and picked up the pace in a desperate bid to look the part. I'd like to think it was Ivan and I who had been taken for athletes and CB perhaps our coach - were it not for the fact that it was Chris, of course, who was pushing the pace!"
Steve Rowland (Ranelagh Harriers)

"Chris liked a beer but whisky was perhaps his favourite tipple. In 1971 he obtained a hogshead of whisky from friends in Scotland. It was to come out of bond in 1981, Ranelagh's centenary year, and those club members with some money to spare bought shares in it.
Another time he was given twelve bottles of whisky and invited a number of us from the club round to the Navigator's House to help him out. His wife Shirley kept out of the way!"
Bob Maslin (Ranelagh Harriers)

"One evening in 1978 in the bar at the Dysart I happened to mention to Brasher that that year's Finchley 20 miles road race would be my 21st in a row. Chris was kind enough to turn the conversation into an article in 'The Observer', to appear the day after the race which in those days was held on a Saturday afternoon. But of course the article had to be submitted before I had actually completed the race. 'Whatever you do,' said Chris, 'For Christ's sake make sure you finish!!'"
John Hanscomb (Ranelagh Harriers)

"During a training run with Chris we were climbing up into Spanker's Hill wood and the sole came off my running shoe. I had to finish the run shoeless. Brasher was greatly disgusted but didn't ask whether they had come from the Sweat Shop!"
Bob Maslin (Ranelagh Harriers)

"After three days of walking my feet, clad in the conventional walking shoe of the late 1970s, were killing me. I wondered why I couldn't experience the comfort of a good running shoe".
CB on walking the 'Roof of Wales' route, 1979.

"I recall one Wednesday evening either late 70s or early 80s, a group of us were in the bar of the Dysart, combating dehydration. Chris came in, a crutch under each arm and one foot heavily bandaged. We were naturally very sympathetic and anxious to know what had happened. He had been walking in North Wales and field testing a new walking boot which he had designed. He said that he had tripped over his own feet and this was the result. I am sorry to have to say that amidst gales of laughter we were all of the opinion that the Brasher Boot would never be a success."
Rex Lofts (Ranelagh Harriers)
"The First Meeting of the Thames Hare and Hounds and the Ranelagh Harriers, 1881.
They were turning down the gas lamps on the top of Putney Hill,
The fog was whirling up from Barnes, the evening very chill,
When faster than a Hansom Cab came three Thames running men.
They were going like the clappers for the pub was shut at ten.
They had whistled past the Windmill, they were clattering down the track
When all at once in front of them they saw another pack.
'A mystery, sir,' said one Thames man, 'Who they are I do not know.
They cannot be our second team, they're running far too slow'.
Those brave Thames men like young gazelles increased their fluent pace
And soon caught up the pack in front, for 'twas no equal race.
'Who are you?' cried the Thames men, 'Why do you hobble thus?'
'We're Ranelagh!' came the bold reply, 'And our feet are killing us!'
Just then from out the darkness, padding through the night,
Came a hunched and gnome-like figure in an old tracksuit, once white.
He ran a while beside the pack then said, 'I see you're lame -
You should all go to the Sweat Shop - Brasher, sir's the name!'
And so the mighty Ranelagh were cured of all their ills
And together with the men from Thames they filled the Sweat Shop tills.
Now a hundred years have come and gone and we've run through many a race,
But the friendships formed so long ago have always stood the pace.
For runners come and runners go but friendship never ends,
So we salute you Ranelagh, our neighbours and our friends."
John Bryant of Thames Hare & Hounds, written on the occasion of Ranelagh's centenary in 1981.
"It all started in a pub, the Dysart Arms hard by that great running territory known as Richmond Park - the home of Ranelagh Harriers which, at the time, was 98 years old. Men (no women were allowed to join until the club was 100 years old) drifted in from our Wednesday night run and talked, over their pints of bitter, of this marathon where the spectators never allowed you to falter - much less drop out.
At the time, the early months of 1979, I was ambivalent about the most punishing event in the Olympic calendar - the marathon. Peter Wilson of The Daily Mirror, one of the greatest sports writers of this century, had taught me that the one event that had to be covered from start to finish was the marathon - an event which, he said, was always packed with human drama.
Obediently, I followed his guidance and will never forget the sight of two African runners, Abebe Bikila, of Ethiopia, and Rhadi Ben Abdesselem, of Morocco, their bare feet whispering on the ancient cobbles of the Via Appia, taking Rome by storm in the 1960 Olympic Marathon.
That was when I knew that if I was to understand this event which embodies courage and fortitude, I had to experience it myself.
But the prospect of putting one foot in front of the other for 26 miles 385 yards of boring road filled me with foreboding. I could run the distance on the glorious hills of Britain but to do it on the roads, watched by three cows and a dog, was surely the height of masochism. Until I heard these stories in the Dysart Arms - stories of an incredible event known as the New York City Marathon.
So I entered, ran, finished, flew home and then sat at my desk in the small hours of an October night and wrote the following article first published in The Observer on 28th October 1979".
CB on the birth of the London Marathon. Extracts from that Observer article follow.

"To believe this story you must believe that the human race can be one joyous family, working together, laughing together, achieving the impossible. I believe it because I saw it happen. Last Sunday in one of the most trouble-stricken cities of the world, 11,532 men, women and children from 40 countries of the world, assisted by one million black, white and yellow people, Protestants and Catholics, Jews and Muslims, Buddhists and Confucians, laughed, cheered and suffered during the greatest folk festival the world has seen. And at the end of it all the story was written in their faces - faces of contentment and happiness.
I'm sure that it was written in my face because I was one of those thousands who won the New York Marathon. For more than 10,000 of us who finished, it was a great personal victory over doubt and fear, body and mind. And for most of us, we won only because one million New Yorkers came out of their homes and holes to feed and water us, to make music and brotherly love and to be Good Samaritans to all who felt like dropping by the wayside.
I have heard the crowd shouting Sir Gordon Richards home in the Derby; the roar of the winning goal at Wembley; Olympic chants in four continents; but I have never heard such fervour as came from the crowd who cheer you as you approach the finish of the New York City Marathon.
Nearly 2,000 years ago, Paul saw a vision on the road to Damascus. Last Sunday millions of us saw a vision of the human race, happy and united, willing their fellow human beings to a pointless but wonderful victory over mental doubt and bodily frailty.
I wonder whether London could stage such a festival? We have the course, a magnificent course, but do we have the heart and hospitality to welcome the world?"
CB in 'The Observer', October 1979.

"Never ask the ratepayers to bail you out. Not a penny from the ratepayers".
Chairman of the GLC Sir Horace Cutler's terms for backing the inaugural London Marathon in 1981

"1. To improve the overall standard and status of British marathon running by providing a fast course and strong international competition.
2. To show to mankind that, on occasions, the family of man can be united.
3. To raise money for the provision of recreational facilities in London.
4. To help London tourism.
5. To prove that when it comes to organising major events, 'Britain is Best'.
6. To have fun and provide some happiness and sense of achievement in a troubled world."
CB and John Disley's aims in promoting the inaugural London Marathon

"Four days before the race Brasher toured the course with his great friend Ian Wooldridge, not in running shoes but in the back of a limo hired by the 'Daily Mail'. As Wooldridge recalled, 'The boot was loaded with champagne, we called at several prominent pubs for refreshment down in the Isle of Dogs stretch and had a lingering lunch at an excellent restaurant near Tower Bridge. Our time was something like 8.27.43, considerably outside the record. "Splendid," said Brasher, "I think we need a nightcap". We repaired to a Fleet Street bar where Brasher consumed a further two large gins and tonic, mysteriously produced tracksuit and running shoes from a bag and set off on the run back to his home nine miles away in Richmond'. Less than 100 hours later Brasher, aged 51, ran the Marathon in under three hours."
Duncan Mackay on the first London Marathon in 'The Observer', March 2003

"Many people came up to me afterwards and said it was one of the happiest days of their lives. So that made it one of the happiest days of my life".
CB on the first London Marathon

"In the first London Marathon we had a bet, 20 pints to 2 on who would be first to finish. I passed Chris after one mile, beat him by two minutes and he still owes me five pints!
I have no doubt Brasher is planning another marathon up there so I am taking my racing shoes with me when I join him."
John Hanscomb (Ranelagh Harriers)

"I was very fortunate to have run many times with Chris, whilst training for the first London Marathon. Every run was different when he was around. Always so energetic, innovative and extremely enthusiastic."
Ken Powley (Ranelagh Harriers)

"He's come up with some ideas over the years has Brasher. Good ideas. He's different, isn't he!"
Deputy Race Director Dave Bedford in the 1989 London Marathon programme.

"Nothing since Adolf Hitler and the Blitz has done more for London's community spirit than Brasher and the London Marathon".
Chris Chataway

"The Chris Brasher Sporting Life Trophy".
New name for the London Marathon winners' trophy.

"Had the campaign concerned a beautiful listed building, there would have been no question but to protect and conserve it. But because it is a very old, wonderful and priceless track it has been ignored and left unprotected from rural vandals".
CB on the Ridgeway path, which has suffered badly from use by off-road vehicles.

"He was a man who was never afraid to stand up for his beliefs".
Racehorse Owners' Association President Jim Furlong

"Every public action which is not customary either is wrong or, if it is right, is a dangerous precedent. It follows that nothing should ever be done for the first time".
Francis Macdonald Cornford - another favourite CB quotation. Restricted to 18 letters and spaces, he named one of his race horses 'Dangerus Precedent'.

"Statistics and its place in the evolution of medicine as an evidence-based science".
Title of the inaugural Chris Brasher Memorial Lecture at Kingston University, delivered on May 6th by Prof Andy Grieve.

"Last July, the Knoydart community made Chris their guest of honour at celebrations for the third anniversary of the buy-out. We, like others, travelled to Knoydart sedately by boat, but Chris - as always - did the journey the tough way, clambering over the mountains of the Rough Bounds of Knoydart and sleeping out overnight at 3,000 feet. He was in his 74th year".
Nigel Hawkins 'The Scotsman' March 2003

"CB's business success enabled him to finance all manner of good works in the outdoors, the mountains and the wild places of Britain. In central Snowdonia he secretly purchased a run-down eyesore of a petrol station and returned the site to green hillside. Word of all this somehow leaked abroad, and in 1994 in Florence a very embarrassed Chris was presented with a special award by Italian mountain-lovers as being the individual who had done most for mountain conservation anywhere in the world over the previous decade. He was greatly respected by hikers and climbers and many of us involved in the outdoors feel that a knighthood was long overdue - he'd have been a far more worthy recipient than most - but alas, he has died before our lobbying could take effect."
John Cleare in 'The Times', March 2003

"That this House pays tribute to the late Chris Brasher, Olympic gold medallist and founder of the London Marathon, for his life-time of service to UK athletics; recognises in particular his lasting contribution to athletics through the annual London Marathon which over the past 23 years has become the most important mass participation event in the world; notes that more than 32,000 people took part in this year's Flora London Marathon on 13th April, each of them covering a distance of 26.2 miles; congratulates the participants and their sponsors for raising more than £32 million for a wide range of charities; thanks all those in the organisation of the event; and looks forward to further equally successful London Marathons in the years ahead."
Colchester Labour MP Bob Russell in a Parliamentary Early Day Motion dated April 29 2003.

"The fourth World Cup for Mountain Running came to Keswick, Cumbria, in 1988 and, thanks to his association with it, the sports-shoe company Reebok was the main sponsor.
I remember him, one Saturday afternoon, in the Youth Hostel by the River Greta that was the event's nerve centre. There he was puffing away on his pipe with the sun streaming through the window, preparing his dispatch for The Observer. Brasher's pipe-puffing had been magic. He came up with unforgettable words that began 'It was a day made in heaven' and ended 'On a weekend of matchless splendour this old man is tempted to tread the hills to heaven'."
Neil Shuttleworth in 'The Times', April 2003

Compiled by Steve Rowland