Beardsley Recalls Co-Winning First London Marathon

It was the first win of his career.

Dick Beardsley (left) and Inge Simonsen were both awarded the win at the first London Marathon. Photo: Sporting Life

It was the first win of his career.

Nowadays, it’s hard to imagine two winners of the London Marathon and that both runners didn’t come from East Africa.

That was the case on March 29, 1981 at the inaugural race in England’s capital city. The two runners were Dick Beardsley and Inge Simonsen. They both crossed the line at the same time holding hands in an unusual sign of good sportsmanship.

Beardsley, an American, had never been to England before. He remembers two things about that famous race: the weather and the crowds.

“It was a cold and rainy day but the support for that very first marathon was unbelievable,” he recalls. “The course was just packed with people cheering us on. I arrived in England five days before the race and was reading the papers and they were up for it. I thought it was a crazy event and no one was going to come out and watch.”

Regarding his race with the Norwegian runner, Simonsen, Beardsley recalls that “we were both running hard. I would try and break away and then Inge would surge and try and pull away.”

He says the two became good friends after that famous race.

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