[Audio] Interview with Steve Jones (Winner of 1984 & 1985 Chicago Marathon) by Larry Eder


Steve Jones was the first marathoner to set a World Record at the Chicago Marathon. In October 1984, in his second marathon attempt, Steve Jones, an RAF jet technician, broke the world record of Rob De Castella by thirteen seconds. In 1983, Steve Jones hurt his leg the night before the race, and at sixteen miles, had to stop when he hit a pothole. He offered to give Bob Bright, who was incredulous at the action, his per diem back as he had not performed. In Steve Jones' world, one was paid only when one worked or completed a task. As a marathon was 26.2 miles, and he had completed only sixteen, it did not still well with Mr. Jones to keep the modest money. Bright refused to accept the return of the per diem, instead, inviting Steve Jones back in 1984. In 1984, Steve Jones ran 2:08:05, a WR. 

In 1985, he ran 2:07:13, missing Carlos Lopes WR by one second. Of that race, Steve Jones noted, " I could not run any faster." Enough said. 


His most under-rated run, in my opinion was his 1988 victory in New York in 2:08:00. 

Jones had begun running in 1970, and when he entered the RAF in 1974, he could not make the RAF cross country team. But, with hard work, drive and consistency, Steve Jones developed into a cross country runner, then a fine track athlete, finishing eighth in the 1984 Olympic 10,000 meters, and then, the best marathoner of his era.

Steve Jones is also a record setter in another arena. For thirty plus years, Steve has been sponsored by Reebok. As he admits, that is coming to an end, it has been a three decade ride as a sponsored athlete, a unique relationship in this age. 

Most importantly, Steve Jones reminds us of an age where marathoners put on their shoes, one at a time, went to the line, ran each other into the ground, with no pace setters, and had a few beers afterwards, as they considered how they would change their racing tactics the next time. Steve Jones, Rob De Castella, Carlos Lopes, Bill Rodgers, Greg Meyer, Martin Pitayo were some of the players in that time and space. 

For me personally, I have had a respect for Steve Jones for many years. Always honest, brutally so, about not only himself but his world, Steve Jones loves the sport, continues to contribute as a coach, and lives a working class, guy who works with his hands ethic. Perhaps one of the reasons I always found David Bedford and Ian Stewart role models as well. 

This is a series of interviews from eight to fifteen minutes, done on Saturday, October 11, 2014. Special thanks to Steve Jones for taking the time to listen to my questions, but most importantly for being the role model for me he has been for three decades and still is. It is hard being both journalist and at times fan. With guys like Jones, Bedford and Stewart, I am fortunate to call them friends as well. 

Consider this; in 1985, at 19 miles, without a pace setter, Steve Jones was on 2:03 pace, all by his lonesome, as he battled the best of his era. His WR in 1984 was the last world record set without a pace setter. 

One other point. While Bob Bright got Chicago some street cred, Carey Pinkowski made the Bank of America Chicago Marathon into an actual race, where elite and citizen runners feel well treated. Bright was Barnum and Bailey side show and used car salesman, all rolled into one. The race needed Bright at the time. When Carey Pinkowski came in, his sensibilities, much different than Bright, elevated the race to a place where La Salle Bank took over title, then, Bank of America, upon their purchase of LSB. The level of complexity in the sponsorship relationships alone would strike fear in the heart of mere mortals. Pinkowski's skill set, like those of a world class marathoner, have evolved, and continue so. 

A final thanks to Carey Pinkowski, for respecting the sport enough to bring athletes like Steve Jones  back to the event. At the end of the day, Carey Pinkowski is a track geek, the highest accolade I can give someone who respects our sport of athletics. 

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