At 7:40 p.m. on Friday, July 13, 1973, the 10.000 m race was started in the London Crystal Palace at the British AAA Championships. The weather was excellent for the long-distance runners — cool and almost no wind, maybe a little humid but much better than in the previous years at these Championships.
This race became the highlight of the British Championships. With a time of 27:30.8, David Bedford set a new world record, surpassing the world record previously held by Lasse Viren (FIN) by 7.6 seconds (set for the Olympic gold in Munich on September 3, 1972 in 27:38.4). His season had been fairly low key, only running two 3000 m races and fighting an injury since April. He only had four weeks without pain to prepare for the championships. In his unconventional manner, however, Bedford had already spoken about a time of around 27:20.
He ran the first kilometre in 2:39.7, after taking the lead at the start and running the first 400m in 63.0 seconds. Only once did Simmons take over the lead at 4000m. But he apparently overdid himself, and Bedford picked up the pace and took back the lead. Bedford reached the 5000m mark in 13:39.4 then followed with approx. 67-second laps. The next to last lap he ran in 66 seconds, and under the cheers of the crowds, finished his final lap in only 62 seconds.
David Colin Bedford, born on December 30, 1949 in northern London thus reached his major goal — a world record.
His idol, Ron Clarke
His idol was the Australian Ron Clarke, against whom he once ran in August 1968; Ron Clarke ran 27:49.4 in miserable weather, and Bedford was lapped by him twice. At the championships in 1972, Bedford had hoped to defend his 5000m title the following day, but he was so wound up from his world record that he was not able to sleep that night. Brendan Foster, who shared a room with Bedford, later said that he had gotten up at 4 a.m. and took a walk in the park. Foster won the 5000 m race, and Bedford only came in eighth.
Bedford was to become British champion in the 10.000 m a total of five times, and in 1971 he also won the title at the precursor to the IAAF Cross Country Championships in San
Sebastian in both the 12 km individual race and with the British team.
Well-known for his unorthodox way of running
Bedford was well-known for his unorthodox way of running — and for his unorthodox appearance, including wearing socks, they were ALWAYS red and he was the only athlete at the time with long hair and a big moustache!
The press also heralded him for his antics on the track. Today David Bedford sports a massive beard and is a member of the cross-country commission for the IAAF - today he also is race director of the Flora London Marathon.
PS: The current world record lies at:
26:20.31 by Kenenisa Bekele (b. June 13, 1982 - ETH) set on June 8, 2004 in Ostrava.