Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken's
Interviews and

Remarkable John Bryant (May 2020)

John Bryant (25/4/44-29/4/20)

John Bryant, Married to Carol with two sons Mathew & William, ran in 24 marathons. His fastest time was 2:21. That may not seem an outstanding time for a top club runner BUT, if you consider throughout that time he was at the head of proceedings, in the hot seat of National Newspaper journalism, which included being the Editor of the Daily Telegraph; A Managing Editor of the Times and he was an Editor of the Sunday Correspondent, Features Editor of the Daily Mail, as well as coaching people like Zola Budd plus, the fact he became President of his club, Thames Hare & Hounds AC. I thought his column 'Bryant,s' Eye' in the Times was always interesting. He was also an immense help to Chris Brasher and his London Marathon set up. John had been Captain of the Oxford University cross country team in 1966 and met that 'Great' Oxford University man, Roger Bannister. He wrote a book about him.

Amongst other athletic efforts, John won the London Championships on the track over 5000m. Despite his passion for running since an early age, the slim good looking and friendly man, had one very unfortunate incident that nearly wrecked his running life altogether. It was in 1987 when he was knocked down by a car receiving horrendous leg injuries but the surgeon saved his legs from amputation. The amazing thing was he ran again in races, but suffered with pain in his leg after his races at times. After the Ranelagh Half marathon I saw him in some considerable pain, for a while after the race but, he never complained & continued with some more London marathons and, even doing the Surrey Vets Cross country Cnampionships at Petersham, which I ran in myself. A man amongst men was John Bryant.

It so happens in 1999, after I had done 19 consecutive London's, I was hit by a dispatch rider in the City, while carrying my files across the road. That was on the Thursday before the London Marathon which was on the Sunday, 3 days afterwards & before my 20th London, and received a broken collar bone, 8 fractured ribs and a bruised lung and ended up spending a few days in the London Hospital, and, it was after that John wrote to me on 19th of May 2000.

"I was so sorry to here of your accident which robbed you of your Ever Present place in the marathon. I do hope you are recovering steadily? It will be a long hard haul by the sound of it but you are equipped mentally and physically,to battle back that non-athletes can only dream of. A dozen years ago I almost lost a leg while training, so I know what you must be going through. All I can give is the advice I have given to quite a few athletes, anybody can get knocked over, it's getting up again that sorts out who you are. I know Alastair, you will get up again. It will take time and it will hurt, but persevere and you will be back. I look forward to seeing you running again soon.
Yours Ever jOHN BRYANT."

I feel that says something about thoughtful John Bryant, who unfortunately died after an illness, a genuine loss to athletics.

Alastair Aitken

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