Interview: Hugh Brasher, race director-elect of the London Marathon

The son of marathon co-founder Chris Brasher will be taking over the reins in 2013

Hugh Brasher
Hugh Brasher

David Bedford has worked for the London Marathon for 25 years, the last eight of them as race director, so it's difficult to imagine anyone else in charge. But last month it was announced that Hugh Brasher would take the reins in 2013 after a lengthy handover period.

In his time at the London Marathon, Bedford, a former international athlete, has grown the event massively, both as a competition for elite runners and as a fundraising opportunity. It has raised more than half a billion pounds for good causes since it started in 1981.

Bedford, who introduced the controversial gold bond system that guarantees some charities places in the race, described his successor, who is the son of race co-founder Chris Brasher, as "head and shoulders" above other candidates.

Brasher is a director of London Marathon Limited, which last year awarded the £4.5m profits of the event's £17.8m turnover to the London Marathon Charitable Trust, and has been involved in every race bar one. He has run it four times, once for charity - the Petersham Trust, which has since been wound up.

He is also chief executive of the specialist running retailer Sweatshop, which organises some of the country's biggest road races, including the Reading Half Marathon.

He says that his understanding of the running market is "relatively unparalleled apart from Dave Bedford".

But what can charities expect? Will he continue the bond system, which guarantees some charities hundreds of entries year after year, while others can't get any?

"You have to support how it works when it raises £50m a year for charities," says Brasher. "There are people constantly saying that it's unfair. What I do know as a director is that it's debated at great length at board meetings."

Brasher says he has supported the board's current approach, but adds that "every aspect of the race will develop".

Earlier this year, Channel 4's Dispatches accused the marathon of having high costs. London Marathon complained to the media regulator Ofcom, which is still investigating.

"The net profit margin is 25 per cent," says Brasher. "That's a phenomenal business achievement. A FTSE company would be happy with 10 per cent."

Brasher is hardly a new broom, but he says anyone who thinks he got the job on the strength of his reputation "is ignorant of me and the marathon as an organisation".

He adds: "I would suggest they look at my credentials. The marathon is an institution and I am the guardian. Dave has set a high benchmark."


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