Max Jones: Tributes to Leeds athlete who beat Roger Bannister

 

Published Date: 18 March 2010

By Susan Press

 

His claims to fame included a race victory over four-minute-mile legend Roger Bannister.

 

And, at the age of 80 and beyond, record-breaking runner Max Jones was still pounding the streets around Leeds

This week, friends and former running mates were paying tributes to the athlete, who died at the age of 83 last weekend after a fall at his home in Oakwood.

A member of the Leeds-based Valley Striders, Max competed in more than 400 marathons and races and was a runner for more than 60 years.

It was in 1946, when he was an engineering student at Cambridge University and Bannister was at Oxford, that they competed over seven and a half miles with Max winning.

Eight years later Bannister made history as the first man in the world to run a mile in less than four minutes.

Max, a retired engineer and metallurgist, also trained in the 1940s with Bannister's two pacemakers, Chris Brasher and Chris Chataway,

Throughout the decades, he kept on running and came into his own as a veteran athlete, achieving a clutch of British, Commonwealth and world records for older runners between 1996 and 1998.

In 1997 he set a world record for his age group in the British 24 hours championships in Hull running 119 miles in 24 hours.

In his early 80s he was still training several times a week.

Less than three years ago, he was the oldest entrant in the 23rd YEP backed Help The Aged Leeds Abbey Dash finishing the 10 kilometre course from Leeds Town Hall to Kirkstall Abbey and back in under an hour.

A qualified coach, he was also part of a team which helped Leeds optician Tracey Morris train for the 2004 Athens Olympics,

He joined the Valley Striders in 1988 and had lived in Yorkshire since the 1950s.

Castleford-based runner Roger Norton, who shares the distinction with Max of being an athletics blue at Oxford, said: "We used to meet regularly at special dinners in Oxford and he really was a legend in veterans' athletics. He won numerous titles following a highly successful young career. In later life, he came back to athletics with renewed vigour."

Valley Striders chairman Bob Jackson said: "He was one of only two Striders to whom I dedicated a page on our website, due to the multitude of medals he had collected. Only two weeks ago he was at the National Cross Country at Roundhay Park, helping us set up the 800 metre section of course that we were looking after, then marshalling the crossing point for an hour in the afternoon, in between times chatting to everyone. He will be greatly missed by all the Valley Striders."

Max Jones's funeral will be on March 26 at 1pm at the Lawnswood Crematorium, Otley Road followed by a reception at Valley Striders clubhouse on King Lane, Alwoodley. He is survived by wife Pamela, three children and eight grandchildren.