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Medal record

Brendan Foster
Men's Athletics
Competitor for the  United Kingdom
Olympic Games
Bronze 1976 Montréal 10.000 metres
European Championships
Gold 1974 Rome 5.000 m

Brendan Foster CBE (born 12 January 1948 in Hebburn, now Tyne and Wear, England) is a British former distance runner, entrepreneur and the founder of the Great North Run.


Early life

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

Athletics career

Brendan Foster's athletic career saw him compete in three Olympic Games, claiming Britain's only track and field medal (bronze in the 10,000 metres) at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. Although only winning a bronze medal, Brendan Foster had the distinction of setting the Olympic record in the heats of the event, a record which lasted until 1984. In 1973 he broke the World Record for two miles at Crystal Palace with a time of 8:13.68. In 1974 he won the European Championships 5,000m, beating Olympic champion Lasse Virén en route to Gold. In the same year he broke the 3,000m World Record on his home track, Gateshead 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.

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.

Foster was Chancellor of Leeds Metropolitan University from 2005 to 2009.[2] He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2008 New Year Honours. 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 — but he never or almost never lost to Viren outside the Olympics [3][4]

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).


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[5]. 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.[6][7]

References and notes

  1. ^ "Hull boss Phil Brown takes on Great North Run challenge". Daily Mirror. 2009-09-16. Retrieved 2009-09-16. 
  2. ^ BBC News Leeds Metropolitan University Chancellor
  3. ^ Hannus, Matti; "The Thousand Stars of Athletics" ("Tuhat yleisurheilun tähteä"), published in Finland, 1983
  4. ^ Butcher, Pat; "The Perfect Distance — Ovett & Coe: The Record-Breaking Rivalry", Weidenfeld&Nicolson, London, 2004
  5. ^ "Brendan Foster takes gold in a very different arena". The Independent. 1997-07-01. 
  6. ^ "M&S adds View From sportwear to its line up". The Independent. 2002-06-06. 
  7. ^ "Olympic hero sells sports brand". BBC. 2002-06-05. 
  • 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

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


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