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Melbourne Herald Sun Obituary on Bryan Smith

Melbourne Herald Sun Obituary on Bryan Smith

27thFebruary 2001


The Melbourne Herald Sun has published the following obituary on Bryan Smith, who died February 2 in the Trans Australia Footrace.

Runner, telecommunications rigger
Born: October 26, 1943
Died: February 2, 2001

As one of Australia's greatest ultramarathoners, Bryan Smith was a source of inspiration and help to fellow competitors in this gruesome sport. But he was a reluctant hero, renowned for his modesty and humbleness and preferred to remain unknown for his achievements.

Mr. Smith holds the Australian record for 1,000 miles (1609km) which he ran in 11 days, 23 hours, the second fastest time anywhere in the world. He also won the last Westfield Sydney to Melbourne Race in 1991 despite a 24-hour handicap.

Born in Korumburra, Mr. Smith was the fourth of Alfred and Linda Smith's five children. After attending Korunburra primary and high schools, he moved to Melbourne at the age of 17 to search for work. Boarding in South Melbourne he joined Telecom at the age of 17 and worked as a communications rigger for nearly 30 years.

He began running to fill his spare time then began to pursue the sport seriously in the 1980s. Within a few years he began running marathons before gradually increasing the distance. Beginning with 50-mile races, Mr. Smith moved to 12-hour races and ran 200km in his first 24-hour race, the Coburg Championship. After several 48-hour races, in which he achieved a personal best of 368km, Mr. Smith tackled the 1988 Sydney to Melbourne race. At his first attempt he astounded organizers by being the first Australian home in the event, finishing fourth overall. He competed in the next three Sydney to Melbourne races, finishing fourth in 1989 and second in 1990 before his win in 1991.

He was inspired by ultramarathong greats Cliff Young and George Perdon, who were friends and mentors. Mr. Smith excelled in 48-hour races and contested four Colac six-day races, winning the final three. He is one of only six runners in the world who have covered more than 1,000 km in six days.

Internationally, Mr. Smith came third in the Spartathlon between Athens and Sparta. He also finished second in the United Kingdom 24-hour World Championship. Mr. Smith was supported in his races by his wife Janet (nee Mackay), whose professional approach was seen as a factor in his success. The couple met in 1964 and married in Williamstown in 1966. After living in a large caravan while Mr. Smith travelled around Victoria in his job at Telstra, the couple moved to their home of the past 29 years, Melton, in 1971.

Mark, their first son, was born in 1967, and was followed by Matthew in 1972 and Andrew in 1976. Before he began seriously concentrating on running, Mr. Smith was a keen tennis and squash player, among other sports. He was held in high esteem by his work colleagues for his rigging skills, work ethic and friendship.

While competing in the Trans Australia footrace, which involved 65 consecutive days or running between Perth and Canberra, Mr. Smith became ill and died. More than 400 friends, family and fellow runners, including Cliff Young, Yiannis Kouros and Tony Rafferty, attended his funeral. He is survived by his wife, Janet, his three sons and two grandchildren, Alexandra and Darcy-Jane.


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This article has been provided with permission by UltraMarathon World, the foremost authority on Ultramarathons in the world, for which CoolRunning Australia is very grateful.


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