Steve Cram – once a runner, always a runner
PUBLISHED: 15:16 07 October 2011 | UPDATED: 20:06 20 February 2013
The idea for "Britain's most beautiful marathon" came from a bike ride. Roger Tames has been talking to the legend of the track who's still full of the joys of running
For someone who grew up pounding the streets around Jarrows coke works, the regions greatest-ever athlete now relishes the outdoor life in the Northumberland countryside where he has made his home.
This month sees the second running of the Kielder Marathon, which follows the shoreline around Kielder Water and is the brainchild of former World 1500 metre Champion Steve Cram.
The voice of BBCs athletics coverage was part of the Holy Trinity of British running in the 1980s, when along with Seb Coe and Steve Ovett, Cram ensured our milers ruled the world.
Though he irritatingly refuses to look much like a 51-year-old, Cram still loves to run when the competitors legacy of persistent ankle and calf problems permit. But its not the tight track at Jarrows Monkton Stadium that sees him stride out; its the glorious countryside near his home.
Ive lived out in Northumberland for nearly seven years now and I absolutely love it, enthuses the man who broke three world records in a dazzling 19 days in 1985. Now my running is more of the longer and slower style. Its great because its so quiet nobody sees how slow Im going these days. Take that with a pinch of the proverbial. However, it was while he was out exercising on his mountain bike that he had the inspired idea to utilise Kielder as the setting for the ultimate challenge.
I love getting out for a few hours on the bike along the forest trails, explains the BBC commentator. I was out when the lakeside way was coming together and did a big loop around the shore, looked down at the bikes speedo and saw that it was around 25 miles. I just thought it would make a great marathon.
I had no great desire to be a race organiser. But when I got to chatting about it with friends at One NorthEast and Northumbrian Water, we realised what a great way a marathon would be to show off the region in such a good light.
And it was. Last years successful debut for the event saw the idea come to fruition thanks to the support of Steves lifetime friend Dave Roberts, one of the organising team of the first Great North Run and former Commercial Director of the Great Run Series. Roberts now runs his own event and marketing company.
Once a runner, always a runner; so when the big day arrived last year, Cram left Roberts and his team to get on, and thought hed just jog along for a while with the starters to see what the event felt like from the inside. Twenty six miles later, after no training, Cram ambled across the line in a respectable three hours 42 minutes.
I had no intention of running, honestly, insists the Olympic silver medallist who has also run ultra marathons. Id just come back from the Commonwealth Games in Delhi but I wanted to see how the quite narrow start worked out. The plan was to get the ferry back at the half way point but I just carried on. It was the worst Ive ever felt. I was done for at 19 miles and I did walk and chat to people.
This year the Salomon-sponsored marathon should attract around 2,000 entries and has also spawned 10k and Run-Bike-Run events as well. Its the second big event of the year that Cram and Roberts have organised together, having launched the City of Sunderland 10k in June.
By the way, Steve wont be running the Kielder Marathon this year - or so
he told me!
For more about Steves big race go to www.kieldermarathon.com