Steve Jones, who this year will mark the 25th anniversary of his New York City Marathon victory, was inducted last weekend into the Boulder Sports Hall of Fame.
In a ceremony conducted in the Avalon Ballroom in Boulder, CO, Jones—a native of Wales who has lived in Boulder since 1990—was introduced by four-time Olympic marathoner Lorraine Moller and Billy Harbalis, his best friend, who traveled from Holyoke, MA. A congratulatory message from Australian Rod de Castella, whose marathon world record Jones broke in 1984, was also delivered.
Recalling Jones’s “humor, wonderful nature, and interest in and concern for others,” the 1983 World Champion cited the honoree’s “indelible and wonderful mark on our sport.”
De Castella now oversees the Indigenous Marathon Project, which trains novice runners in both sport and life skills and brings them to the United States to compete in the ING New York City Marathon and Boston Marathon.
Jones set a world record when he won the 1984 Chicago Marathon in 2:08:05, and followed that up with a victory in the London Marathon the following spring and a repeat win in Chicago before winning the 1988 New York City Marathon in 2:08:20, at the time trailing only Alberto Salazar’s 2:08:13 world record in 1981 for the fastest time ever on the course. Jones’s time still ranks No. 8 on the race’s all-time list.
Perhaps more impressive, however, was his margin of victory: 3:21, still the greatest in the history of the race. After hitting the halfway mark in 1:04:16, Jones broke the race open in the 15th mile when he refused to let up during a brief surge by the lead pack.
Although Jones said he had no idea how far he had pulled ahead, he knew that he was running according to plan.
“Going into NYC I was very confident of my fitness and conditioning, knowing that someone was going to have to run eyeballs out to beat me,” wrote Jones in an e-mail this week. “I had a plan, I executed, and I won. This doesn’t happen very often, in anyone’s career.”
Since retiring as a competitive athlete, Jones has coached runners at both the recreational and world-class levels, including 2008 Olympian Jorge Torres.
Ironically, Jones’s induction into the hall of fame came about two weeks after the basement of his North Boulder home flooded in the recent devastation there, destroying photos, ribbons, certificates, and other memorabilia from his racing career.
“I didn’t lose any friends!” he wrote, shrugging off the loss. “The photos are old, and on-offs. Everything else is in my head anyway.”
“Our races are to our sport what Wimbledon and the Australian, U.S., and French Opens are to tennis, and what the Masters, U.S., and British Opens and PGA Championship are to golf. Each race has the history, the tradition, the honor roll of legendary champions, and a special place in the eyes of all to make them stand apart from the other events.” Mary Wittenberg