Steve Jones (runner)

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Steve Jones winning the Swindon (UK) Half Marathon in October 1984

Stephen Henry Jones (born 4 August 1955) is a Welsh athlete and former world marathon record holder.


Jones grew up in Ebbw Vale, Wales and ran his first race at the age of 15 as a member of the Air Training Corps. Dissatisfied with working in a factory as a sewing-machine mechanic, he became an aircraft technician for the Royal Air Force (RAF) in 1974, and joined the RAF's running team in 1976. After receiving an invitation to the 1983 Chicago Marathon Jones began training for that distance; he previously had specialized in the 5,000 and 10,000 m,[1] and finished 8th in the 1984 Olympic 10,000 m event,

In 1984, a year after dropping out of the Chicago Marathon because of injury, Jones won the event—his first completed marathon—with a time of 2:08:05, breaking the world record of Australian Robert de Castella by 13 seconds. Jones was unaware of the record and, since he never wore a watch, did not know that he might break it until two miles before the finish. He won the 1985 London Marathon in 2:08:16 despite stopping to go to the toilet during the event; Jones later said, "I didn't even train for [the race]", instead continuing to coach himself. Aware that he was "one hamstring tear away from oblivion", Jones remained with the RAF despite earning large sums per race. In August 1985, he broke the world record for the half marathon, running 61:14 in Birmingham. On 20 October of that year he achieved his personal best marathon time of 2:07:13 in winning the Chicago Marathon,[1] only one second slower than the world record run by Carlos Lopes at the Rotterdam Marathon earlier that same year. This time was the fastest of any British runner for 33 years until Mo Farah beat it in 2018.[2]

In 1986, he won a bronze medal in the 10,000 m at the Commonwealth Games. In the European Championships shortly after, he once again competed in the marathon. Leading from the start and breaking away from the pack, Jones ran a brilliant race up to the 20 mile mark. At that point he was leading by over two minutes and on schedule for another world record. However, he then "hit the wall" and suffered terribly in the final six miles. He slowed to a virtual shuffle, but refused to quit as he watched other competitors catch and pass him. Two years later, in the 1988 New York City Marathon, Jones won by over three minutes with a time of 2:08:20.

He was the first Welsh athlete to appear on the cover of the prestigious running magazine Running Times.

Jones lives in Boulder, Colorado.[1]


Year Competition Venue Position Event Notes
Representing  United Kingdom and  Wales
1983 World Championships Helsinki, Finland 12th 10,000 m 28:15.03
1984 Chicago Marathon Chicago, United States 1st Marathon 2:08:05
1985 London Marathon London, United Kingdom 1st Marathon 2:08:16
Chicago Marathon Chicago, United States 1st Marathon 2:07:13
1986 European Championships Stuttgart, West Germany 20th Marathon 2:22:12
1986 Commonwealth Games Edinburgh, Scotland 3rd 10,000 m 28:02.48
1987 Boston Marathon Boston, United States 2nd Marathon 2:12:37
1988 New York City Marathon New York, United States 1st Marathon 2:08:20
1990 Commonwealth Games Auckland, New Zealand 4th Marathon 2:12:44
1992 Toronto Marathon Toronto, Canada 1st Marathon 2:10:06
1993 World Championships Stuttgart, Germany 13th Marathon 2:20:04

Popular culture

In 2010, a video gone viral featuring the Welshman's dramatic, tenacious finishing to outrun the Tanzanian runner Gidamis Shahanga in the closing 80 meters of a 10000 meters race after got caught at the final 110 meters. The vivid commentary help enhance the dramatic experience and is often featured in videos of "inspirational sports moments" or "remarkable comebacks".

In the race, Jones was leading all day with 30 meters margins up until the last 400 meters, at which point the commentary noted "But they are closing. And of course he (Jones) got very little finishing speed". Then Shahanga closed in rapidly since then. At final 200 meters, Jones glimpsed back and saw Shahanga in sight, with the commentary famously noted, "Jones' looking for trouble and the trouble is there". Shahanga caught Jones at the final 110 meters, by then the commentary noted "the African is going to steal the race in the last 80 meters", yet soon the commentary is made, Jones managed to comeback, accelerate and win the race with the time 27:55.2s. This 10000-meter run is an invitational race held in Memorial Van Damme Stadium, Brussels, 1983, hence not recognised in official competitive records.[3]


  1. ^ a b c Barker, Sarah (2014-05-21). ""I Never Wore A Watch": Running Lessons From A Record-Breaking Everyman". Deadspin. Retrieved 21 May 2014. 
  2. ^ Bank of America Chicago Marathon: What You Need to Know Retrieved 9 October 2010
  3. ^ "Episode 100 - Steve Jones (Part One)" (Interview). Marathon Talk. Dec 7, 2011 (actual interview start from t=45:00.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  • Kubatko, Justin. "Steve Jones Biography and Olympic Results". Olympics at Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 24 January 2010. 
  • Runners World
  • The Independent Bio
Preceded by
Australia Robert De Castella
Men's Marathon World Record Holder
21 October 1984 – 20 April 1985
Succeeded by
Portugal Carlos Lopes
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