The former national newspaper editor, who wrote a number of athletics books, played a part in the success of the London Marathon

John Bryant, the running journalist and author who played a key role in the success of the London Marathon, has died aged 76.

The former national newspaper editor, who wrote several books about running and was a keen AW reader and contributor, is said to have died peacefully at his home in Surrey, following a long illness.

Passionate about the sport as both a runner and writer, Bryant’s athletics career saw him captain the Oxford University cross country team while studying law and he would later become president of Thames Hare and Hounds.

He ran the London Marathon 29 times after working closely with his friend, the event’s founder Chris Brasher, to help the race become such a success.

He led for part of the inaugural edition in 1981 and despite hamstring pain in the final few miles which meant he could “hardly walk”, he still clocked 2:45.

During his newspaper career, Bryant was editor-in-chief of The Daily Telegraph and worked at The Daily Mail and The Times.

It was while he was features editor at The Daily Mail that Bryant met the now legendary Olympian Zola Budd and he became one of the few people that the athlete trusted when she came to England in 1984. He later helped Budd with her training as she set records and won world cross country titles.

John Bryant with Zola Budd in 1988 and Sir Roger Bannister in 2014. Photos by Mark Shearman

Bryant also developed a relationship with Sir Roger Bannister, with one of his books – 3:59.4: The Quest to Break the 4 Minute Mile – about Bannister’s historic feat in 1954.

Among those to pay tribute to Bryant was Hugh Brasher, event director of the Virgin Money London Marathon and son of race founder Chris.

“John was an incredible supporter not only of the London Marathon but also of my father, Chris,” he said.

“His wisdom and knowledge across sport and media were immeasurably helpful and their friendship, camaraderie and enjoyment of a long run followed by a pint or two plotting their next escapade are memories I will always treasure.”

Nick Bitel, chief executive of the Virgin Money London Marathon, said: “John was one of the earliest supporters of the Marathon and served as a trustee for many years.

“His encyclopedic knowledge of running, the media and of the Marathon was invaluable for years.

“Even when he retired as a trustee, he continued his connection to the Marathon as vice president and while his health allowed was to be seen in the finish grandstands for long periods on race day.”

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