Bedford, David (Part 2 of 2). An Oral History of British Athletics

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Richard Ranftdiscussing first London Marathon... "finishes in a terrible state"
Posted by Richard Ranft on 29/03/2013

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  • Subjects

    Athletics: Track

  • Recording date


  • Recording locations

    Flora London Marathon Office, London

  • Interviewees

    Bedford, David, 1949- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Cutler, Rachel (speaker, female)

  • Abstract

    Part 2: The London Marathon. Describes the highlights of the Marathon in 2005. Past champions returned to celebrate with the new elite runners and the organisers. Celebrity showbiz feel to the event. Compares and contrasts the 25th anniversary race with the earlier races. Describes the role of Paula Radcliffe and the Paula phenomenon - the star quality she brings to the event. The growing status of the London Marathon has by luck combined with the growing status of a British runner. Describes his role on the day of the Marathon. Has a minute by minute schedule written and held around his neck. Out early checking major areas. Floor manager at the start - makes sure that the TV get good pictures of the event. Micro manages the start - sends of the elite racers - then heads to finish. At finish the last of the mini-marathon runners is coming through. Then micro-manages the finish. When elite comes through - overseas the presentations. After this a more technical view of operations + at 2.00pm pint of beer and relax. Seeing the first elite runner home is beginning of the relaxation. Tension, anticipation followed by technical and more relaxed view of the event. Describes the best and worst races since he has been Director. Changes over time mean that it is more predictable but no less enjoyable. [0:12mins.] In second phase of the marathon - first phase being Chris Brasher era when the initial work had to be done, stage two has taken it further. Manager of nightclub in Luton when first London Marathon took place. First contact with the London Marathon 1981 - rang up Chris Brasher the night before and asked to run in it, Brasher gave him a number and he ran on no training etc. and finished in bad shape. 1985 honorary director for UK Athletics on Board of Trustees. 1988 - became liaison with athletes - soon became race director. Ran it again in 1991 - gave him a benchmark and realised how much it had changed and the depth and fun had exploded. Because of involvement at all levels can talk to all those who take part in Marathon. Early days under Disley and Brashers management. Discusses Disley & Brashers relationship and characters. Maintaining the enjoyment for all athletes and making the organisation accessible. Prides himself on being ordinary and approachable and likes to be involved in the whole organisation. [0:19:30mins.] Describes how he became Director. Early 1990s took over from Alan Storey as the event grew to involved more marketing. Bedford was better at that side of things and both roles eventually fell to him and Storey left the organisation. What is the role of the Director?. Describes how it has changed over time - relationship with athletes and agents etc.. Actually believes that agents are quite useful for such events. London Marathon has stayed away from governing bodies of athletics ad because of this it has had a positive image. Compares his own organisation of International meetings in athletics and his Directorship of the Marathon. The role of the Board of Trustees & the place of governing bodies representatives on the Board. [0:24 mins.] Discussion about the size of the Marathon and safety of the event. How big can the Marathon get?. Favourite changes over time have included the involvement of the community living and working along the route & the involvement of musicians along the route contributing towards the feeling of a carnival day out. Interaction with charities - 34 million pounds raised by the 2005 Marathon. Comparisons with other Marathons, e.g. New York and Boston - feels that they take themselves too seriously & don't embrace the fun runners so easily. Thinks that the club runners at the London Marathon are less happy with fun runners participation than the elite runners tend to be. "People running for fun and for charity are in truth more important to us". [0:31 mins.] London Marathon had been part of the bid & was a very powerful iconic race/route representing London. Describes the new route for the Games Marathon - which will run to the Olympic Park. Insists he will be Director of the London Marathon at the Games and loves his job so much that would stay until then anyway, but feels it is the icing on the cake for his career. Next 25 years of the Marathon - describes some of the ideas and the vision for next few years. Have ideas to extend Flora teams activity into other sporting events. Looks back over career and expresses the role athletics has played in life. Discusses his relationship with his son and developing his character and career - in particular dealing with failure and avoiding it thereafter - "any person who has had to endure failure in the public eye is awful, and I think what I have learnt from that is work and work and don't get lazy". Uses his life in running and organising sport as a way to review everything he does and in that way he, "like the Marathon stays ahead and [is] motivated by it.".

  • Description

    Interview with David Bedford, former long distance runner and race director of the London Marathon

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discussing first London Marathon... "finishes in a terrible state"

Posted by Richard Ranft, Head of Sound & Vision, British Library on 29/03/2013 11:28:00