Brendan was a world-class middle-distance runner who has gone on to become a TV personality and the driving force behind the Great North Run.
He was educated at St Joseph’s Grammar School and the University of Sussex.
Foster’s athletic career saw him compete in three Olympic Games, claiming Britain’s only track and field medal – bronze in the 10,000m – at the 1976 Montreal Olympics.
In 1974 he won the European Championships 5000m, beating Olympic champ Lasse Viren en route to gold. In the same year he also broke the 3000m world record on his home track, Gateshead Stadium. Also that year, Foster was awarded the BBC’s prestigious Sports Personality of the Year award.
He also won 10,000m gold at the 1978 Commonwealth Games in Edmonton and, in 1973, broke the world record for two miles at Crystal Palace. Foster was awarded the MBE in 1976.
Since retiring from the sport after the Moscow Olympics in 1980, Foster has worked for BBC Television, commentating and reporting on athletics at every major event since 1983.
In 1981, Brendan Foster founded the Great North Run which has put the region on the world athletics map.
The 2005 race was the 25th staging of the event, in which over half a million people have taken part over the years. The event regularly attracts over 50,000 entrants, making it (as it has been every year since 1981) the UK’s biggest road race, with only the London Marathon coming close to challenging it for numbers of participants. In 2003, Brendan ran the Great North Run himself for the first time in many years after an on air challenge from Ray Stubbs of the BBC at the 2002 event.
Foster was Chancellor of Leeds Metropolitan University from 2005 to 2009. He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2008 New Year Honours.
Brendan joined the sports company Nike International Limited in 1981 as UK Managing Director. Progressing to European Managing Director, Vice President Marketing (Worldwide) and Vice President of Nike Europe. In 1988 he set up a company, Nova International with three friends from Nike. This company was later renamed to View From International, which won a contract to supply the British athletics team. The brand was later sold to Marks and Spencer in 2002 for an estimated £2m. Foster has played a significant role in introducing the raw athletic talent displayed by Ethiopian and other African athletes to the world of sport. He has great in-depth knowledge and appreciation of these athletes who demonstrate undisputed athletic abilities despite lack of financial resources available to them in their home land.
In 2010, he was inducted into the England Athletics Hall of Fame.