Steve Smythe remembers a British legend and chooses 20 of his best or most famous competitions

Half a century ago, Britons dominated the 5000m and 10,000m lists in the way Kenyans and Ethiopians do now. The 1970 world rankings revealed the UK had the fastest three and four of the six fastest 5000m runners and the top two and four of the fastest seven at 10,000m. They also had six of the top nine at two miles.

Ian Stewart headed the 5000m – and you can read more about him here – but it was Dave Bedford who topped the 10,000m.

This year Bedford celebrates the 50th anniversary of his biggest win and the publication of the Dave Bedford Story. Not too many 21-year-old athletes have had a book detailing their life and career.

However, back in the early 1970s when Crystal Palace was struggling to take over the mantle from White City as Britain’s premier athletics venue, Bedford is largely credited for bringing the crowds flocking back.

With his Mexican bandit looks and moustache, red socks and long stride and aggressive and flamboyant front-running and his boast of upcoming special deeds, Bedford made the headlines with his vibrant personality and a string of brilliant performances. He was unable to translate some of those incredible record runs into medals on the track but he had plenty of success and 50 years on is not forgotten among track fans of the 1970s.

If only a fully fit Bedford had the shoes now available, a full London Stadium and pacer lights, he might have beaten Yobes Ondieki to the first sub-27 10,000m by over 20 years.

While most will remember his world record 10,000m but question his ability to win races, it’s worth recalling he won both the International Cross Country junior and senior titles when they were effectively the world titles.

And winning five successive AAA 10,000m titles was no easy matter when British athletes had the greatest depth of any distance nation. He did not prove as successful in major Games but without him you wouldn’t have got up to then the fastest and greatest European, Olympic and Commonwealth 10,000m races and a total re-writing of the world all-time lists in those championship races. At the end of 1974, 13 of the top 16 10,000m performers of all time came in races where Bedford did all the hard work!

Many believe he could have done better with different tactics – the speed coming later when the others were tired – rather than the speed coming early and then the races getting progressively slower. Of course, it is possible that the likes of Vaatainen in 1971 and Viren in 1972 would have won whatever tactics were used.

In all three of his big championship 10,000m races, Bedford went into the races as fastest in the knowledge that hardly any of his rivals had times in his vicinity and the belief he was going to go much faster than he had before – especially in 1972 and 1974.

He was actually remarkably consistent in his three big Games races but there is no denying that while the likes of Viren might have been unbeatable, he did lose to some runners not at his level such as the ultra consistent Mariano Haro, who beat him in both big races in 1971 and 1972, who could never run the sort of times that Bedford was potentially capable of.

Unfortunately injury meant it was a short international track career, many believing the relentless 150 and 200 mile training weeks took their toll on his body and he thought the injuries even affected his ability in some of his biggest races.

Bedford made a huge contribution to the sport after he retired. He later became the President of the International Athletes’ Club, secretary of the British Athletics Federation and AAA of England and a fantastically successful race director of the London Marathon, was heavily involved in the organisation of the 2012 Olympic marathon and also served the IAAF’s road running commission. He was appointed OBE in the 2014 New Year Honours for services to athletics and charitable fundraising.

His son Tom bettered his father in that he won an English Schools title (at steeplechase in 2002) and also ran a sub-2:20 marathon and he is the organiser of this year’s Olympic trials marathon.

For me, Dave Bedford was a huge presence. I started running in 1969 after he was already a 19-year-old British 10,000m record-holder. As he was absent from both the 1969 Europeans and 1970 Commonwealths, the first time I saw him on television, and I was really aware of him, was when he was a shock winner of the 1970 AAA 10,000m.

I started getting AW shortly after after that when he had regained the GB record at the end of the 1970 season and then over the next year he went from being relatively unknown to being the most exciting runner in the world and one of the best known sportsmen in Britain and the glossy Dave Bedford Story came out and at all of 65p it was a must for all aspiring young runners.

Just to get a picture of his personality and humour but also his gruelling training, in 1971 he answered the AW Questionnaire not long after his senior International win.

What performance has given you the most pleasure?
Breaking 100m, 200m and 400m personal bests all in one race. I ran 14 and 28 en route to a 55!

How many days a week do you train?
7 days – 3 sessions per day (morning, lunchtime and evening).

How long are your training sessions?
30 minutes to 3 hours.

Please give details of a typical week’s training in winter?
Monday: am 8 miles. Lunch: 6 miles. pm 16 miles steady.
Tuesday: am 8 miles. Lunch: 6 miles. pm 14 miles inc 30x200m hill and fartlek.
Wednesday: am 8 miles. Lunch: 6 miles. pm 16 miles inc 5 x 1M efforts.
Thursday: am 8 miles. Lunch: 6 miles. pm 12x400m (62) with 200m recovery, 12x300m (47) with 100m recovery, 12x200m (32) with 100m recovery.
Friday: am 8 miles. Lunch: 6 miles. pm 8 miles steady.
Saturday: am 15 miles. Afternoon: (watching QPR – quite a strain!). pm 10 miles steady.
Sunday: am 20-25 miles from Lauriston (Wimbledon). pm: 5-10M on country
Most of running on road. Approx weekly mileage: 200

Please give details of any weight training?
Lifting pints is the nearest I get to this.

What are your targets?
Olympic, European, Commonwealth golds and world records.

He did at least achieve the latter and compiling his best races (and ploughing through nearly a 1000 AW’s) brought back some great memories to me and hopefully will be of some interest to others too and hopefully nothing too major has been missed due to a few missing copies!

1 AAA Championships 10,000m, Crystal Palace, July 13 1973
1st 27:30.8 (world record)

As he had not publicised any record attempt or shown any form that suggested anything special was likely, only 3500 fans were present on the Friday night for a programme of predominantly heats but clearly he had a target as he powered through 1600m in 4:17.4. Surprisingly as he was operating at 26:45 pace, he still had four takers. Even at 3000m (8:08.4) – the second fastest ever split after his Olympic opening, Tony Simmons, Seppo Tuominen and Bernie Plain remained.

The latter two soon dropped off but at 4000m, Simmons surprised Bedford by going by and leading before Bedford went ahead again and pushed on through the fastest ever halfway time of 13:39.4 with Simmons (13:41.0) also running a time previously unsurpassed even by Clarke and Bedford.

At 6000m he lapped fellow International cross-country winner Mike Tagg, who tried to briefly help Bedford. From 6400m to 8400m and needing 67 second laps, Bedford astonishingly reeled off five successive exact 67.0 laps.

At 8000m , he had been 15 seconds up on Viren’s equivalent but clearly was not going to finish like Viren did but he had a 19 second buffer at 9km and perhaps more importantly was 10 seconds quicker at that point than Clarke had ever run.

While he had slowed to a 67.8 four out, knowing the record was almost certainly his, his last three got faster and a 60.8 final circuit was wildly received by a stadium of 10,000m aficionados as he took over seven seconds off Viren’s world mark and 16 seconds off his own British (and former European) record.

It was the first world record set in London by a Briton since Chris Chataway beat Vladimir Kuts in an epic 5000m in 1954.

Dave Bedford celebrates his world 10,000m record with coach Bob Parker at Crystal Palace in 1973

Simmons (28:19.4) and Plain (28:30.2) survived their suicidal starts to set PBs despite slowing 40 seconds on their second half’s. Bedford’s lap times were: 63.0, 64.4, 64.9, 65.1, 65.8, 66.4, 66.2, 66.2, 66.6, 66.0, 65.4, 66.0, 66.8, 66.2, 67.2, 67.8, 67.0, 67.0, 67.0, 67.0, 67.0, 67.8, 66.0, 65.2 and 60.8.

In the press conference he said: “I planned this from about a week ago. When I left home I was nervous. I’ve been confident in the past and it has not come off.  I had four weeks of really good training and it began to click and last week I knew it was on. Recently I did a session of 2 x 6 laps and I did 6:24 and 6:25 with a jog in between and I wanted to go through in 6:30 tonight (he did 6:29.6). I was conscious of the lap times and got worried with 8 or 9 laps to go as it was feeling quite hard but it should be at that pace! I knew if I kept to 67s I should get the record and kept pushing them as hard as I could.”

The following day (to appease the large home crowd) he ran in the 5000m and was 6th in 13:47.54 in a race won by Brendan Foster (13:23.8).

2 AAA Championships 5000m and 10,000m (Inc Olympic Trials), Crystal Palace, July 14 & 15, 1972
1st 13:17.2 (European & UK record & UK all-comers’ record) & 1st 27:52.4

As he was primarily targeting the 10,000m at Munich, he almost did not compete at this Friday night event but made a late decision to compete and then ignored coach Bob Parker’s instructions to just do enough to make the Olympic team. He started fast and was four seconds up on Clarke’s world record pace at 1000m (2:35.0) and 2000m (5:12.4) and this was enough to move him clear of his final challengers Stewart and McCafferty, who had battled for Commonwealth gold in 1970.

He was through 3000m in an unprecedented 7:53.6 (3.4 seconds up on Clarke’s time) but the gap was down to 1.4 seconds at 4000 (10:38.6) as the laps had dropped from 63s to nearer 66. He narrowly fell behind Clarke’s time with 600m to go and was still only 0.7 of a second down with 200m to go and he was only able to claw a tenth back in his last 200m as his time fell 0.6 short of Clarke’s seven-year-old 13:16.6 despite a lively 59.6 last lap.

McCafferty, who at one stage was closing down Bedford in the last 800m, set a Scottish record 13:19.8 to go third all-time on the world lists. A subdued Stewart (13:24.2) ensured his selection ahead of Haro (13:26.0) and teenager Black (13:28.0) who would have comfortably made any other country’s Olympic team.

His lap times: 61.6, 62.4, 62.8, 62.6, 63.0, 63.8, 65.4, 65.2, 65.8, 66.0, 65.8, 62.4 and 30.0 for the final 200m.

Just 19 hours after his European 5000m mark, he was back in action to secure selection at his premier event. In front of a fervent 20,000 crowd he ignored sizzling hot conditions.

He was through 3000m on world record pace in 8:12.4 (27:20 tempo) and was only a few seconds down on Clarke’s time at 5000m (13:47.6). He did ease back on the second half but still won by 46 seconds from Commonwealth winner Lachie Stewart (28:38.8). The three runners most favoured to complete the team – Tagg, Simmons and Lane all dropped out due to the combination of the pace and heat.

Surprisingly the third spot on the British team went to Dave Holt (28:42.0), who had been told to run in the B race as the A race was limited to 30 but he defied officials to ensure Munich selection.

3 GB v France (inc AAA Championships) 10,000m, Portsmouth, July 10, 1971
27:47.0 (European record) (6M; 26:51.6 (European record)

He took an astonishing 17 seconds off Jurgen Haase’s European record despite the temperature being in the 80s and it being on a dusty cinder track and suffering badly from blisters because of the track and the heat. The first lap was a too slow 70.0 and the second a too fast 59.0 but he was well ahead of schedule for Clarke’s 27:39.4 world record after a 2:40.0 opening kilometre.

He was still ahead at 3000m (8:09.0) and 5000 (13:45.2) and at 8000m (22:09.2) was still four seconds up on Clarke’s split. Thereafter, he was not quite able to maintain the tempo dropping from 67 to around 69 seconds but finished with a 64 and he won by a staggering 52 seconds from Lane (28:39.6) who also secured his European team spot.

His lap times were 70.0, 59.0, 63.6, 65.0, 65.8, 66.6, 66.4, 67.2, 67.2, 67.4, 67.2, 66.6, 67.0, 66.4, 67.4, 66.8, 67.2, 67.2, 66.8, 68.4, 69.2, 68.2, 68.8, 67.2 and 64.4.

4 International Cross-Country Championships, San Sebastian, Spain, March 20 1971
1st 38:42.8

After being just an injured 95th the previous year, he proved himself the greatest cross-country in the world with some ease breaking clear after a kilometre and he ran away from the field winning by 22 seconds from Trevor Wright (39:05.2) with Kiwi Eddie Gray in third. The quality of the field is illustrated by the eighth to 12 places of major track or country medallists Mariano Haro, Ian Stewart, Rod Dixon, Pekka Paivarinta and Gaston Roelants. England (56 points) won the team race incredibly easily from Belgium (174).

5 Southern Senior and Junior Cross-Country Championships, Parliament Hill, February 7 1970
Senior 9M: 1st 45:50, Junior 6M, 32:12

On an astonishing unparalleled afternoon (having already trained in the morning and then done a long warm up), he first destroyed the senior field over nine miles winning by almost a minute from steeplechase international Bill Mullett (46:45) and Bob Holt (47:01).

Twenty minutes later he set off in the junior race and though struggling up the first hill, he was soon well clear of the field and he won by a minute from Lane (33:13), who went on finish a very close second in the National Junior and would be in Britain’s 10,000m team alongside Bedford in Helsinki 1971 and win the World Student Games cross-country title in 1972.

6 Southern 12-Stage Road Relay 5M, Wimbledon, March 27 1971
22:20 (Course record)

He took 54 seconds off Bob Holt’s course record with a stunning run – surely one of the greatest road relay runs in history though his Shaftesbury team could only finish 10th.

He set off 69 seconds behind former National winner Gerry North and 5 miles later finished 49 seconds ahead. Dick Newble (23:12) did actually briefly Holt’s record a few minutes before Bedford finished. Newble ran 13:48 for 5000m early in the summer but probably ran better here but was almost a minute slower than Bedford.

It was reported as a totally implausible 5.25M at the time in AW (4:15 miling on a far from flat course!) and then this leg was referred to as a more plausible 5M 125 yards when the lap was remeasured when it was extended in 1973.

Even Clarke in his then unapproachable world 10,000m track record went through five miles in a similar overall time to what Bedford ran (Clarke went through 8km, which was 40m short of 5M in 22:13.0) but the Briton probably went further and therefore faster and it was a staggering run which was not truly appreciated at the time.

7 British International Games 5000m, Edinburgh, June 12 1971
13:22.2 (European record)

In very windy conditions – the 100m wind reading was -6.3m/sec – he produced an astonishing solo run which but for the conditions might well have been a world record.

At 3000m in 7:58.8 he was within a few seconds of Clarke’s world record pace and though he slowed a little, he still did enough to break Ian Stewart’s European (and track) record set in winning Commonwealth gold and he went second all-time.

Mike Baxter followed him him home over 100 metres behind in 13:40.2 with Dane Korica third in 13:43.6.

His lap times were 62.1, 64.0, 63.3, 63.9, 64.3, 63.4, 64.2, 65.4, 65.2, 66.0, 64.3, 64.3 and 31.8 (into wind!).

8 Southern Championships 10,000m, Crystal Palace, April 19 1969
1st 28:24.4 UK 10,000m record

To say this was a major shock was a major understatement. A teenage athlete only 11th in the senior Inter-Counties cross country a few months earlier and fourth in the later Inter-Counties junior race became Britain’s fastest ever senior at 10,000m.

He blasted through 5km in a PB 14:14.4 and everyone expected him to wilt but he actually run a faster second half of 14:10.0 and took a few seconds off Mike Freary’s UK record (28:26.0) and run a time that only 12 men in the world had ever beaten and it was four minutes quicker than his previous 10,000m race.

John Bednarski (second to him in the International Junior race a few weeks earlier) was a distant second in 28:51.8 but moved to sixth all-time in the UK rankings.

Bedford’s lap times were astonishingly even: 69.4, 66.2, 67.0, 66.8, 68.4, 69.0, 69.2, 68.8, 69.2, 68.4, 68.4, 69.2, 68.4, 68.6, 68.0, 69.2, 68.6, 67.8, 68.2, 69.0, 67.8, 68.0, 68.0, 68.0 and 64.8.

9 AAA 10,000m, White City, August 7 1970
1st 28:26.4

After a quiet summer with injury causing modest results, he suddenly burst back to form with a run that considering the cinders was a better run than his 1969 British record.

He led at a good, fast pace with 14:14.0 at halfway but still had Wright, Tim Johnston, International champion Tagg and Bob Holt following. Gradually his surging and some 67 laps jettisoned all bar National champion Wright and then a 66.2 gave him a solo run to the end and he set a championship record.

Lap times: 65.6, 66.4, 67.2, 67.6, 68.8, 69.0, 69.0, 69.0, 69.4, 69.0, 69.4, 70.2, 69.0, 70.4, 69.0, 68.6, 69.6, 67.4, 67.6, 66.2, 67.8, 68.0, 68.4, 68.4 and 65.4.

10 UK v Poland 10,000m, Warsaw, September 12 1970
1st 28:06.2 (UK record)

Running pretty much the same pace for 25 laps as he managed for eight in a recent two miles at Crystal Palace, he edged Taylor’s UK record with a magnificent solo run. It was against just three opponents in a match that otherwise Britain were thrashed by the Poles.

Through halfway in 13:59.8 – the third man in history to go sub-14 on the first half, he held his form well and just missed Jurgen Haase’s European mark (28:04.4) but did go third all-time with his time supplanting Lachie Stewart’s Commonwealth win (28:11.8) as the world’s leading mark of the year.

Roger Matthews (fourth in Edinburgh) finished half a lap behind in 28:35.4. Bedford injured himself in the race and had to be helped off the track.

11 European Championships 10,000m Helsinki, Finland, August 10 1971
6th 28:04.4

Bedford felt he was 40 seconds less fitter than in Portsmouth after injury meant he dropped out of the AAA race but after a steady first lap he kicked in laps of 63.6 and then three 65s and he was on 27:30 world record pace at 3000m (8:15.0) but seven athletes were able to hold on and the pace slowed at 5000m (13:54.4) – nine seconds down on Portsmouth but significantly faster than anyone else in the race had ever run.

Much to the crowd’s delight Juha Vaatainen threw in a 63.4 lap at 6km which initially dropped Bedford but he caught up and regained the lead and still tried to grind out a sub-28 pace and despite a 65.2 penultimate lap, five runners held on and then 350m out, they all sprinted past. The Finn who covered his last lap in a then unprecedented 53.9 won in 27:52.8 to go third all-time while the next four moved to fifth to eighth all-time in what thanks to Bedford was the greatest mass 10,000m race in history.

Bedford ran a disillusioned 65.5 last lap but his time would have been a European record a month earlier.

12 Coca-Cola Invitation Meeting 3000m steeplechase , Crystal Palace, September 10 1971
1st 8:28.6 (UK record)

Again he attracted a capacity crowd as he aimed to break the British record (8:30.8). He actually set off well inside world record pace with a 61.2 first lap and 66.4 second though gradually he paid for his start and dropped to 68s and 70s and Andy Holden caught him just before the bell.

Bedford followed him until the last hurdle and then with the whole stadium roaring, ‘sprinted’ past though Bedford insisted that he was just jogging faster than his rival (8:28.8) who also broke the old UK mark.

At the end of the year Bedford won the British Athletics Writers athlete of the year award, the AAA gave him the CN Jackson Cup for outstanding athlete of the year, the Harvey Memorial Cup for the best champion of the year and the Carborundum Golden Jubilee Trophy for the best track performance at the Championships.

Additionally, Bedford won the AW British athlete of the year with 370 votes to European 400m champion David Jenkins’ 291 while he was second in the world male with 90 votes to Vaatainen’s 262.

13 Olympic 10,000m Final, Munich, September 3 1972
6th 28:05.4 (2nd heat 27:53.6)

The period between the glorious AAA double and the Olympics was actually a nightmare for Bedford. Apart from mystery stomach pains, Fleet Street’s non athletics press were watching his every move as then as possibly the best known sportsman in Britain. Additionally the IOC were looking into whether he had broken the amateur rules with his newspaper column and he had also upset team members by allegedly taking shots at them with a air rifle.

Thinking he needed a race and to escape the training he ran a 2 miles in Stockholm on August 4 but after leading much of the race he fell away (6th 8:28.2) as Lasse Viren shocked with a world record (8:14.0) with Ian Stewart setting a British record in fourth (8:22.0).

A few days after this disastrous race for his confidence, he joined in a 300m rep session with Foster who was preparing for the 1500m and at a different level of sharpness and after half the session and trailing Foster a disillusioned Bedford stopped and by the evening was back in London while the rest of the team stayed in Switzerland.

Despite the pressures he looked back in form in the Olympic heats as he blasted through 3000m in sub 27:30 pace in 8:14.2 and was through halfway in 13:48.6, a time that only he and Clarke had ever run. He spent the last few laps chatting with Emiel Puttemans who eased ahead to win in an Olympic record 27:53.4.

In the final there were hopes from the likes of Clarke that Bedford might try a different tactic and attempt a 13:30 second half but instead he ran his most aggressive race from the off. He opened with laps of 60.6, 64.0, 64.4, 64.4 and 65.4 which had he continued would have taken almost a minute off Clarke’s world record. The pace slowed slightly but 3000m in 8:06.4 – easily the fastest ever split but not surprising as it was still 26:50 pace.

Despite this unprecedented pace, he still had eight followers and though the pace slowed to 68s, Bedford started surging every 200 metres but he would stretch the group out but they would close up each time he slowed.

At 4400m, Viren and 1968 5000m champion Mohammed Gammoudi fell with Viren losing a few seconds but still getting back into contact as Bedford led through history’s quickest halfway time of 13:44.0 though Gammoudi pulled out.

At 6km Viren went ahead as Bedford laboured and the latter dropped back at 7km, seemingly paying for his fast heat and excessively fast front-running and surging.

Viren went on to produce a 1:56.6 final 800m and despite his fall and very slow 5-8km, he took a second off Clarke’s world record with his 27:38.4 with Puttemans (27:39.6) challenging until the last 100 metres. Bedford finished almost 200 metres back.

A few days later (September 7) he was second in his 5000m heat in 13:49.8 after a sub-60 lap seven out gave him a surprisingly easy qualification and he ambled home alongside Gammoudi (13:49.8).

With just two to qualify and the heat being slow, Olympic steeplechase runner-up Ben Jipcho (13:56.8), 1976 chasing champion Anders Garderud (13:57.2) and 1976 10,000m medallist Carlos Lopes (14:29.6) all missed out.

In the final of September 10, he briefly led at halfway but made no real contribution to the race and faded away in the last kilometre which Viren (13:26.4) covered in a vicious 2:26.4 with Gammoudi (13:27.4) and Stewart (13:27.6) taking the other medals and he finished 12th in 13:43.2.

14 Commonwealth Games 10,000m, Christchurch, January 25 1974
4th 28:14.8

Well adjusted to the New Zealand summer and in good form – having run a 15x400m session in 59 seconds, Bedford thought he was fitter than in his world record run and he set off again with the intention of running world record pace.

Simmons actually led the opening three laps at a fast pace before Bedford took over and his first 1600m of 4:14.8 and 3000m time of 8:06.0 was up on his record run though half a dozen athletes were still in contention but by 4km it was down to just Black and three Kenyans with the Africans crowding Bedford and trying to slow the Englishman who was spiked, tripped and lost his balance at their intimidating tactics which involved holding his shorts and pushing him.

The pace slowed though a 13:47.0 5000m time was still territory that only Bedford had past experience of among the leaders but Bedford admitted the jostling had destroyed his concentration and he had lost his cool.

Home favourite Dick Tayler who had been running evenly up to 50 metres back at one stage caught the leaders on the 16th lap. Bedford was still up the front three laps out but when English team-mate Dave Black threw in laps of 62.9 and 62.1 up to the bell only Tayler could respond. It was the Kiwi much to the delight of the huge crowd, who proved the strongest in the last 200m and his 27:46.4 – a 42 second PB – moved him to sixth all-time in a run that he had never previously matched or would ever again come close to again.

Black was second in 27:48.6 which moved him to world eighth all-time with Bedford just edging fourth spot, 100 metres back on the medallists.

Two days later he eased through his heat in 13:59.2 and then another two days later set off with intent in the final with a 61.8 opening lap but at 1600m (4:20) he was well down on his time in the 10,000m and when Black went ahead shortly after, he started drifting down the field.

Ultimately he ended up almost a minute behind (11th 14:18.8) in a cracking race which saw Jipcho (Commonwealth record 13:14.4) narrowly edging Foster (UK record 13:14.6) as the pair went second and third all-time.

15 AAA Championships 10,000, Crystal Palace, July 12 1974
1st 28:14.8

Having stopped running for four months in the winter and still nine pounds overweight and with no quality results, he almost did not compete but he said he enjoyed this race more than any other in the previous five years.

The first half was a slow 14:23.2 and then Ford began to string the field out with some 67 second laps and by 8km it was down to seven runners.

Ford covered the 20th lap in 66.4 which was surprisingly too much for Black and then another 66.4 got rid of the rest other than Bedford which as Simmons and Roelants dropped back.

Ford tried all he could to drop Bedford with two laps of 66.6 up to the bell but just short of 300m out, Bedford kicked by and completing the last lap in 61.0 (similar to his record finale) he opened up on a second on Ford (28:16.0) with Simmons, who would go on to gain European silver third (28:19.4).It meant in unusual circumstances, Bedford had won his fifth successive AAA title but his only major race in a sprint finish.

The run did qualify him for the European Championships but he was not interested in selection (the selectors picked Ford, Simmons and Black) and the Palace race would prove to be his last track race at this level.

16 National Cross-Country Championships, Norwich, March 6 1971
1st 47:04

Taking the lead after half a mile, he destroyed a top quality field winning from 1972 champion Malcolm Thomas(who had beaten him as a junior) by 40 seconds with defending champion Trevor Wright, who was the favourite after his Inter Counties and Northern wins a well beaten third (47:58).

17 International Junior Cross-Country Race, Clydebank, March 22 1969
1st 19:38

While superbly consistent he had not been able to win any major junior races all season but with some of the older UK juniors barred, he dominated on a very tough switchback course and took gold winning easily by 21 seconds with team-mates Bednarski (the reigning champion) and John Harrison following him home as England scored a perfect six points. Non-scorer Standing finished seventh (20:51).

18 Southern 5000m Championships, West London Stadium, April 27 1977
1st 13:46.0

This was wrongly reported in AW that this was his first track race since his AAA title and his first 5000m since the 1974 Commonwealths but it was his fastest 5000m for well over four years and his last top quality track win. Kevin Steere led most of the way with 66 second laps but it went down to just four at the bell and most expected Loughborough student Malcolm Prince or renowned kicker Keith Penny to be favourites but Bedford executing a double kick, blasted two consecutive 29.0 splits for a 58.0 final circuit. Prince (13:46.6) and Penny (13:49.4) won the other medals.

19 AAA Junior 2M, White City, July 13 1968
1st 8:59.8

In front of a 19,000 crowd there to watch the senior championship (including the Olympic trials) with the Queen attending the event for the first time since 1952, he enjoyed his biggest track win to date. Leading early on, only King could stay with his 4:27.0 first mile and King (9:03.2) finally crumbled with 660 yards to go.

It’s worth noting though that fellow junior Stewart was competing in the senior 5000m at the same meeting and ran a European junior record 14:02.2 in finishing fourth Briton.

20 English Youth Cross-Country Championships, Sutton Coldfield, March 2 1968
1st 15:07

A huge favourite, he proved too strong for his rivals winning from Northern champion Dave Wright while Northern and Southern runners-up John Harrison and Chris Reed were third and fourth.

» To read a list of his top 100 races in chronological order (including British records and major wins not included above) please click here

» A more detailed list of over 250 of his races plus additional info on Bedford appears in the member-only Clubhouse section

Bedford’s early days – 1964-65 – CLICK HERE

Bedford’s junior promise to British record from 1965-69 – CLICK HERE

Bedford’s International title and Euro records 1970-71 – CLICK HERE

Bedford’s 1972-74 period plus later highlights – CLICK HERE

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