Chris Brasher, athlete, journalist, sports administrator, businessman, mountaineer and co-founder of the John Muir Trust died of cancer on 28 February. He first came to the public eye as a pacemaker when Roger Bannister ran the first sub-four minute mile in 1954. Brasher's controlled running of the first two laps in 1 min 58.2 sec provided the ideal foundation for Bannister's eventual time of 3 min 59.4sec. Brasher went on to win Olympic gold in the 3,000 metres steeplechase in the 1956 Olympics. Britain's first athletics gold since the 1930s. Sporting success led him into journalism and broadcasting. On the business side his involvement with sports footwear, coupled with a longstanding passion for mountains and wilderness, resulted in the development of the Brasher Boot, Britain's leading lightweight walking boot.
As well as his achievements on the track, Chris Brasher left a lasting mark as a sports administrator. In 1966 he co-founded the British Orienteering Federation. In 1979 he took part in the New York City Marathon and was fired by the vision of a mass-participation road race taking over a great city. The result was the London Marathon. He hoped to get 3,000 entries for the first race in 1981. In the event, the field was 21,000 and the race has never looked back since.
Mountaineering was always a passion. He climbed in the Himalays and Alps and
was accomplished enough to have been a reserve for the 1953 Everest Expedition.
The preservation of wild landscapes became a compelling interest and led to
his role as a co-founder of the John Muir Trust, a body which he served as a
Trustee from 1983 to 1992 and again from 1996 up to his death. He also set up
the Chris Brasher Trust in 1988 for the conservation of wild land in the UK,
the improvement of mountain rescue facilities and the education of promising
young sportsmen and women. An environmental royalty from the sale of Brasher
Boots helps to support the work of the Chris Brasher Trust.
Fellow JMT founder and long-time friend Nicholas Luard commented "With the death of Chris Brasher not only does the John Muir Trust lose one of its greatest champions. The entire wilderness movement worldwide loses an eloquent and visionary supporter."
Will Campbell, 13 March, 2003
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