London Marathon co-founder John Disley dies

John Disley poses alongside Paula Radcliffe and Prince Harry with the inaugural John Disley London Marathon Lifetime Achievement Award during last year's London Marathon.

London marathon co-founder John Disley has died at the age of 87 after a short illness.

Disley, from Corris in North Wales, helped create the first London event in 1981 alongside his friend Chris Brasher.

The man responsible for designing the course, Disley was a successful athlete who took the bronze medal in the 3,000m steeplechase at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics.

Disley is regarded as the first world-class British steeplechaser, and lowered the British record for the 3,000 metres event no less than five times at the peak of his career in the 1950s.

He and Brasher, a fellow steeplechase runner, were inspired to launch the London race following a visit to the New York City Marathon in 1979.

Disley and Brasher staged the first London Marathon in 1981, with 7,474 runners taking part. In 2015, 37,675 runners finished the race and it remains one of the marathon majors.

The president of the London Marathon Charitable Trust and former vice-chairman of the UK Sports Council, Disley was appointed a CBE in 1979 for his work in outdoor education. He was inducted into the Welsh Sports Hall of Fame in 2007 and was also BBC Cymru Wales Sports personality of the year in 1955.

Disley remained an active member of the London Marathon throughout its 35 year history and presented Paula Radcliffe with her lifetime achievement award, named after himself, after her final appearance in last year’s race.

A statement from London Marathon Events on Monday said Disley had passed away in hospital after a short illness. He is survived by his wife, Sylvia, and two daughters.

Nick Bitel, chief executive of London Marathon Events, said: 'John was the architect of the original London Marathon route.

'Every runner of the race since 1981 owes him a great debt for the vision he realised alongside Chris Brasher.

'The fact that we are celebrating our millionth finisher this year is a testament to the conviction John had that this would be an event to span generations of runners.

'He will be greatly missed by all of us at the London Marathon.'

Hugh Brasher, son of Chris and event director of London Marathon Events, said of Disley: 'He inspired so many people with his love of running and the outdoors and has left a legacy that is now part of the fabric of British society.' 

Three-time winner of the women's elite race, Paula Radcliffe tweeted: 'Very sad to hear this - a wonderful man who had a dream that is The London Marathon. As a runner, thank you x RIP.'