Tuesday, February 9, 2016

John Disley...The Fleet Fox passes away.

John Disley, who died yesterday,is best remembered as a successful athlete who  competed for Great Britain in the 1952 Summer Olympics held in Helsinki in the 3000 metres steeplechase where he won the bronze medal. He set five British records in the steeplechase and four at two miles. He also set Welsh records at six different distances. With his friend, fellow athlete Chris Brasher, he co-founded the London Marathon first held in 1981 and is attributed to being the 'course setter'. Establishing the current route taken by this, one of the world's biggest marathons.

However,what is less well known about this remarkable man is that he was also a climber, mountaineer and orienteer. Setting the speed record for the Welsh 3000' peaks, writing several climbing related books including 'Tackle Climbing this Way' and 'The Ascent of Snowdon' and serving as the Chief Instructor at The National Mountaineering Centre, Plas  y Brenin in North Wales.

The late Harold Drasdo who also passed away recently, told me a highly amusing anecdote concerning JD, Chris Brasher and his eponymous boot! Chris Brasher another activist best known on the Athletics track, was also a climber and hillwalker ( see the thuggish 'Double Chris' climbed with Chris Bonington in the Moelwyns). Applying his athletic  experience to his hillwalking activities, he came up with the 'Brasher Boot' A breakthrough lightweight walking boot that utilised fabrics and traditional materials and which was waterproof. For those used to hillwalking in cumbersome heavy leather boots, The Brasher Boot was the Bee's Knees!

Partnered by John Disley, in 1983 the pair founded Fleetfoot Limited based in Lancaster, England. Fleetfoot distributed The Brasher Boot and other sporting goods to retailers.

At the time John Disley was living in the Gwydr Forest near the market town of Llanwrst and around the time of the launch of the Brasher Boot, he suffered a break in at his home. Amongst the items stolen was one of the prototype pairs of boots. A few weeks later when he was walking around the local Kwik Save supermarket in Llanwrst, Disley noticed a local scally wearing a pair of Brasher Boots! Given that the boot had yet to be launched upon an unsuspecting public then a claim that he had bought them in Ellis Brigham didn't carry much weight with the local magistrate!

The rest as they say is history and the Brasher/Disley Brasher Boot continues to be popular to this day although it is now owned by Berghaus.

John Disley was 87 when he died and yet another figure in climbing's golden era has left the stage. ( Born Corris,Mid Wales November 20th 1928-Died February 8th, 2016)

1 comment:

  1. Hi John, that's brilliant at such short notice! I like the stolen boot story! DM