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.

News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Extras
indybest
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
travel
Arts and Entertainment
music
Sport
football
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, Graduate, SQL, VBA)

£45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, ...

Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Perl, Bash, SQL)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Per...

C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB6, WinForms)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB...

C# Developer (Genetic Algorithms, .NET 4.5, TDD, SQL, AI)

£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home