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Subject: Chris Brasher, 74, Pacer for Bannister Mile

LONDON, Feb. 28
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Date Posted: March 02, 2003 10:28:01 EDT

Chris Brasher, the 1956 Olympic steeplechase champion and a pacesetter for Roger Bannister when Bannister became the first runner to break the four-minute mile, died today. He was 74.

Brasher died at his home in the village of Chaddleworth, Berkshire, northwest of London, according to organizers of the London Marathon, which he helped found in 1981.

On May 6, 1954, Brasher set the pace for Bannister with a first lap of 57.5 seconds, then a second of 60.7 for a half-mile time of 1:58.2. Bannister's time for the mile was 3 minutes 59.4 seconds. Two years later, Brasher won the steeplechase gold at the Melbourne Games in 8:41.2, then an Olympic record. "Chris was gallant and brave right to the end," Bannister said. "He had won so many battles in his life. We had more than 50 years of friendship."

After retiring from running, Brasher worked as a reporter for the British newspaper The Observer and for BBC television. He won the British sportswriter of the year award in 1968 and 1976. Brasher also started the Brasher Boot Company in 1983; the lightweight walking boots became one of Britain's leading brands.

Brasher helped start the London Marathon after watching the New York City Marathon in 1979. The first London Marathon, on March 29, 1981, had 7,747 starters.

Brasher is survived by his wife, Shirley, whom he married in 1959, and his children, Kate, Hugh and Amanda.

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