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New Year’s Honours: Olympic long-distance runner David Bedford OBE vomited during first London Marathon

David Bedford running on Hampstead Heath. Picture: Nigel Sutton David Bedford running on Hampstead Heath. Picture: Nigel Sutton

Friday, January 10, 2014
6:00 PM

For years, former world record holder David Bedford wondered if he would ever get a nod from the Queen as he watched other athletes pick up honours for their feats.

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But the wait was worth it for the marathon runner and former race director of the London Marathon, who has finally been recognised with an OBE in the New Year Honours List.

Lifelong Hampstead resident Mr Bedford, 64, was forced to wait until the evening of his birthday, the day before New Year’s Eve, to publicly celebrate the news.

“It feels great” the father-of-one said. “The OBE covers most of my life from when I was 16 or 17, because it takes into account my running in the old days, moving through athletics administration and ending with a wonderful 20 years at the London Marathon.

“Over the years you see an awful lot of people receive honours and I wondered whether anyone would deem to give me one.

“The older you get, the less likely I think you feel it is, but I was absolutely delighted.”

Mr Bedford celebrated his honour and his birthday, with a couple of beers in The Flask pub, Flask Walk, Hampstead, and a meal with his partner in Villa Bianca, Perrin’s Court.

He named the best moment of his 10-year running career as breaking the world record for the 10,000 metres in 1973, the year before he retired from athletics because of injuries.

But he also said that winning the Southern Athletics Cross Country Junior Championship and the Senior Men’s Championship titles within an hour of each other in Parliament Hill in 1969 was a career highlight.

He also ran in the 1972 Munich Olympics.

Mr Bedford stepped down as race director of the London Marathon in 2012 after 10 years in the role, having been involved with the marathon more generally since 1986.

He took part in the very first London Marathon in 1981 after a night of heavy drinking at a nightclub, with no training and a stomach full of curry.

“Everything ended up on the track,” Mr Bedford, of East Heath Road, said. “But it has prompted me to tell people that they must prepare for the marathon these days otherwise it will be as hard for them as it was for me.”

Mr Bedford cannot run nowadays following a knee replacement last year, but the shaggy-haired athlete can still be spotted walking briskly around Hampstead Heath in his trademark red socks.

In 2004, he sued the owners of directory enquiries provider 118 118 for using his distinctive likeness in their advertisements.

The co-founder of Heath Hands, a volunteer organisation that helps preserve Hampstead Heath’s special character, is currently chairman of the International Association of Athletics Federations‎Road Running Commission.

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