Athletics: Steve plays his nowhere man record

This morning, Steve Kenyon will be far from the madding crowd of 40,000 Great North Runners. "I've booked a stall to sell records in Bolton town centre," he said. "I've got a hobby, buying and selling vinyl records. I've got a big collection from the 1960s. I'm a big fan of the Beatles. I'm showing my age there."

This morning, Steve Kenyon will be far from the madding crowd of 40,000 Great North Runners. "I've booked a stall to sell records in Bolton town centre," he said. "I've got a hobby, buying and selling vinyl records. I've got a big collection from the 1960s. I'm a big fan of the Beatles. I'm showing my age there."

It remains to be seen, but when he's 64 the former Salford Harrier could still possess the Great North Run record that has been running for 19 years now. In a race that has come to be dominated by Kenyans in particular and Africans in general, it has become a quirk of fate that the last British man to win was in fact a Kenyon.

That was on 30 June 1985. Steve Kenyon was 33 at the time. He turned 53 last week. "I've still got happy memories of the race," he said. "It was a high point in my career. I'd almost retired the year before, because of injury. I'd given up marathons. I just went up there to see what would happen, and on the day it went well for me."

It did indeed. Kenyon won in 62 minutes 44 seconds, equalling the course record held by Mike McLeod. After 23 editions of the Bupa Great North Run, Europe's biggest half-marathon, McLeod and Kenyon remain the only two male British winners.

Kenyon, who works as a sales assistant at the Regatta outwear-clothing store in his native Bolton, hopes that Jon Brown will become the third today. As someone who has himself suffered on the road from Marathon to Athens, he can identify with the great northern hope of British men's distance running, and with Paula Radcliffe, both of whom endured heartache in their Olympic marathons last month.

Kenyon failed to finish the 1982 European Championship marathon that was held on the original marathon course. Radcliffe, famously, did likewise in the 2004 Olympic women's race. Brown made it to the finish line in the Panathinaiko Stadium, but as the fourth-placed finisher for the second successive Olympic men's marathon.

"I did have a niggling back problem when I ran in 1982," Kenyon reflected, "but, to be honest, it was the combination of the conditions and the severity of the course that got to me. I didn't get as far as Paula Radcliffe. I only got to 10 or 12 miles.

"That was it for me as a marathon runner. I called it a day. I'm sure it will be different for Paula, though. She'll come back strong. I'm a big fan. As for Jon, it must have been terrible to finish fourth again. I wish him all the best for Sunday. I would love to see him win."

The sentiment would be echoed by anyone who saw the look of sheer despair on Brown's face as he glanced up to see the beaming Brazilian Vanderlei de Lima take the bronze medal a tantalising 80 yards or so ahead of him on the Panathinaiko track. "Yeah, I had probably a mile to think about that situation," Brown said, picturing the nightmare scenario, four weeks after the event. "At that stage it's all over. There's nothing you can do about it.

"I only saw the guy probably in the last two kilometres. I was catching him pretty fast, but that's how it goes. It's over and done with now. I mean, I ran very well. It almost went perfectly for me. It's just the outcome was enormously disappointing."

As a pragmatic Yorkshireman (born in Bridgend, a resident of Victoria, Canada, for eight years now, but raised in Sheffield), Brown knows the odds are against a winning outcome for him in the Great North Run today. Just four weeks after his 26.2 mile exertion in Greece, there is bound to be a question mark about the freshness of his legs. Then there is the challenge of Hendrick Ramaala, the South African half-marathon specialist who won on Tyneside 12 months ago.

He dropped out of the Olympic marathon after 12 miles, suffering from a hamstring pull, but proved his fitness and form by winning the Dam to Dam 10-mile race in Amsterdam last Sunday, clocking a nifty 45 minutes 59 seconds.

The great thing about Brown's presence in the Great North Run is that he is looking beyond his latest Olympic blow. The marathon at next summer's World Championships in Helsinki is already on his mind. "Helsinki's definitely attractive," he said. "If I got a medal at the World Championships next year I'd be quite happy with that - although fourth would give me the full set of fourth places."

It was good to see the nearly man of the marathon raise a smile. "You know the Japanese guy who finished fifth in Athens?" added Brown, the twinkle still in his eye. "He finished fifth in the last two World Championships. Three fifths! Imagine that."

Quite. There is always somebody worse off.

Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol
art'Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' followed hoax reports artist had been arrested and unveiled
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004
music

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

News
peopleJust weeks after he created dress for Alamuddin-Clooney wedding
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Sport
football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
Arts and Entertainment
Leonardo DiCaprio talks during the press conference for the film
films

Film follows park rangers in the Congo

Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
News
i100
Sport
Adel Taraabt in action for QPR against West Ham earlier this month
footballQPR boss says midfielder is 'not fit to play football'
News
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

History Teacher

£60 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Liverpool: Job opportunities for Seconda...

** Female PE Teacher Urgently Required In Liverpool **

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Liverpool: Job opportunities for Secon...

** Cover Supervisors Urgently Required In Knowsley **

£60 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Liverpool: Job opportunities for Seconda...

Java developer - (Intershop Enfinity)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Java Developer...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album