What do you remember about the first London Marathon?

“Nobody knew if it was going to be a success, and that was a bit of a worry but the crowds came out and it was obviously a big success. I was really expecting to win as I had won in Tokyo for the previous two years.”

How did the London Marathon compare to the Tokyo Marathon at the time?

 “I went to Japan the most in my career so I was more famous there than I was here and I look back at Tokyo with pleasure. They were women-only races. In the first Tokyo Marathon in 1979 they closed the streets for 54 women and it was packed all the way with spectators because the Japanese love marathon running. I went back the following year and managed to win it again but that was a harder race and was probably my best win because it was a race right to the end. The atmosphere was the same as in London.”

Can you describe your training regime when you won the London Marathon?

“I was working in Watford so I’d take the girls to school, train, work from 11:00 until 15:00 then pick my girls up from school and train again in the evening.”

Is the marathon your favourite athletics event?

“Yes, I’d have liked to race it earlier in my career but I actually look back at the 1972 Olympics (reaching the semi-finals of the 1500m) as my biggest achievement as I never thought I would make the Olympics. The whole of my athletic career I moved up as a longer distance became available. I’d been in the sport a long time before certain events were added for women. I ran the British championships just to do a marathon in 1979. Because that went well my whole new career started, and I got invited to the Women’s International Marathon Championship in Waldniel (Germany) and then Tokyo so I did three marathons in six months. A whole new world opened up.”