27 February 2008

Joyce Smith

Wedneday 5.00am 6KM Roo 23m52

6.00PM Nudgee Track Session 12 X 300m 100m gog recovery Ave 50.0 secs
finished with a 47.29s
Good fast set! 2K WU 1Mile WD

I was coached for a few years by Joyce's husband Brian (who was also a P.E. teacher at my school).
Joyce was team captain at the Munich Olympics and was a pioneer for woman's marathon running.When Joyce first started out Women were not allowed to run distances over 800m!
She won the first London Marathon(Twice) and held the British record for a long time in the years before Paula. Joyce ran a Marathon best of 2h29m43
Joyce ran in the 1984 LA Olympic Marathon (11th Place). She was also extremely fit into her forties.

In 1978 when I was still regularly training with her, she set a 3000m W40 WORLD RECORD 3000m 9m11 !!! That Still stands today!
At the time I had know idea she'd even broken a record, of course today, I fully appreciate just what a fantastic achievement this is.

She is still very much involved in Club athletics and her former Club (Barnet Ladies) merged with our Club (Shaftesbury Harriers) to form Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers.

I found this article which more accurately summarises Joyce's career by Simon Turnbull of the Independent 14th April 2002

Whatever Paula Radcliffe achieves on the road from Blackheath to The Mall this morning, Joyce Smith will always be the first lady of the London Marathon. She was the first woman to complete the very first London Marathon. She crossed the finish line that rain-swept morning in 1981 in 2hr 29min 43sec. It was her fifth British marathon record and the third fastest ever time by a woman in a marathon race. Her reward was a Seiko watch, which stopped ticking long ago.

It will be rather different for Radcliffe today. She will be some pounds 150,000 the richer simply for lining up in the 2002 Flora London Marathon. If she wins, in her first attempt at the marathon distance, the leading lady of the latter day British running scene will earn a further pounds 38,000. Wherever she finishes in the women's race, though, (even if she fails to make it to The Mall) Radcliffe will still have time on her side - if not a prize time- piece on her wrist.
Radcliffe is moving up to the challenge of the marathon at the age of 28. Smith was 43 when she won the inaugural London Marathon. She was 41 when she ran her first marathon. That was at Sandbach in 1979, just 10 miles down the road from the Cheshire village where Radcliffe lived at the time but a far cry from the hullabaloo that has accompanied Radcliffe's entrance into the marathon-running ranks.
"No, I don't think I would have fancied all the pressure that Paula has been facing," Smith reflected last week as Radcliffe endured her final pre-race grilling under the media spotlight. "Wherever she had gone to run her first marathon the interest would have been high. Taking on London has put even more pressure on but, then, that's what she's earning the money for, isn't it? She's chosen London and I expect that financially she's doing very well out of it." Not that Mrs Smith harbours any bitterness about missing out on the marathon money boat herself. At 64, retired from competitive running for 18 years now, her one regret is that she never got the absolute best out of herself as a marathon runner. "Oh, I was definitely capable of running a better marathon," she said. "Looking back, I'm sure I could have run faster if I'd been able to go to the marathon in my 30s." On a day when interest in women's marathon running hits a new peak in Britain, it seems astonishing to recall that when Smith turned 30 - in October 1967 - there was no such thing as distance running for women. The longest race for women in international competition was 800m. It was another five years before a 1500m for women was added to the Olympic programme and a further 12 years before the first Olympic marathon for women.Smith was a female first-footer in both events, at the Games of 1972 and 1984, though her career as Britain's most remarkable running woman was very nearly cut short by the constraints she faced. Frustrated by the half-mile limit placed upon women's runners at international level, she told Athletics Weekly in 1965 that she intended to continue competing "for two more years at the most" and duly disappeared from the scene in 1968.
She returned a year later, though, as a mother - to Lisa - and as a runner with new horizons opening up ahead of her. Guided by the astute coaching of her husband, Bryan, a former 800m runner with Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers, she won the International Cross-Country title and set a world best time for 3,000m (9min 23.4sec) in 1971, reached the semi-finals of the 1500m at the Munich Olympics in 1972 and won a 3,000m bronze medal at the European Championships in Rome in 1974. As she completed her final track season in 1978, the part- time wages clerk from Watford could reflect with pride on her second coming as an athlete; she had won the women's national cross country title in 1959 and collected her first international vest on the track as an 800m runner in 1960. Little did she know she still had her finest hours ahead of her. Turning to the marathon "just to say I had done one", Smith smashed Rosemary Cox's British record by nine minutes in the 1979 Sandbach race, finishing in 2hr 41min 37sec.
Over the course of her five-year marathon career, she broke the British record six times in all, taking it from 2hr 50min 54sec to 2:29:43. She won the first London Marathon and the second, and remains the only British runner with more than one victory in Britain's prestige running race. She also finished 11th in the inaugural Olympic marathon, for women, in Los Angeles in 1984, entering the record books as the oldest female athlete in the history of the Games, ,at the age of 46 years 282 days.
Seven months short of her 65th birthday, the woman whose international athletics career spanned a remarkable 24 years still runs - but purely for recreation, with her second daughter, Lia. She is also heavily involved in the running world with her husband. Both are trustees of the London Marathon and Bryan is a member of the board of directors. He will be on the course today organising the mini-marathon for youngsters that could well unearth potential maxi- marathon stars of the future. Joyce will be in the grandstand at the finish, eagerly awaiting the arrival of the woman who has long been regarded as the future of British marathon running.

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