Eamonn Martin - The Last British Runner to Win the London Marathon

Twenty years ago, almost to the day; Eamonn Martin – MIRA’s Manager of Component & Environmental Testing, crossed the finishing line of the London Marathon in a winning time of 2:10:50.

It was his first ever Marathon and one that he wasn’t prepared to lose.

“I was two miles away from the finish, I was neck-and-neck with the Mexican Rico and I remember thinking to myself it’s my home race, I’m in contention and I’m not going to let this chance slip away.”

Coming into the race, Eamonn was already the reigning British record holder for the 10,000m and had previously competed in three Olympics, LA in ’84 and Seoul in ’88 and Barcelona in ‘92. No stranger to competition at the highest level, he had also won the 10,000m at the 1990 Commonwealth Games in a time of 28:08.56.

“I was running 130miles a week at that time” recalled Eamonn, “But I switched my training regime to be marathon specific three months before the big race. I was working full time as an engineer for Ford in Dunton at the time, fitting in my training around my work and personal life.

“You don’t see runners competing in the top echelons doing that these days. Unfortunately the top British marathon runners these days seem to focus too much on the short term approach to winning, and they’re no longer willing to approach it from a longer term perspective. That’s one of the main reasons why we haven’t had another British winner of The Marathon and I find that very sad.”

Eamonn later went on to win the Chicago Marathon in 1995, which was his last significant win. In 1999 he took on the London Marathon again, this time as a master (for people aged over 40). He ran it in 2:17:22 - a London Marathon Master’s record.

Following an operation five years ago where his hip was resurfaced with titanium, Eamonn no longer runs long distances. Instead he focuses his spare time on helping other aspiring runners to complete on the world stage. He is currently the English Cross Country Team Manager as well as Chairman of the Basildon Athletics Club, the same club whose yellow colours he wore when he famously crossed the finishing line in April 1993. Since winning the Marathon he has also helped athletics prodigies to step up to the world stage like double Olympic gold medal winning Mo Farrah during his teenage years.

“When I crossed that finishing line a huge sense of relief came over me. I knew I’d executed the distance perfectly and I’ll never forget the amazing feeling of hearing hundreds of thousands of people shouting my name as I ran past them. It was a wonderful experience, and one that came during a wonderful part of my life.”

Aside from his achievements in competition, Eamonn has also carried the Commonwealth Torch down the Mall, before presenting it to the Queen and Prince Charles.
 

On 21st April Eamonn will be commentating on the London Marathon for the fourth time for BBC World Service, between 08:30 – 12:30 UK time.

He will also feature in BBC 1’s coverage of the Marathon between 08:30 – 09:30 this Sunday.


Eamonn also featured in a recent BBC Sport interview, which can be viewed here.