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Alec Burns

Full name: James Alexander "Alec" Burns
Gender: Male
Height: 6-0 (183 cm)
Weight: 146 lbs (66 kg)
Born: November 5, 1907 in Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear, Great Britain
Died: May 2003
Affiliations: Elswick Harriers, Newcastle upon Tyne (GBR)
Country: GBR Great Britain
Sport: Athletics

Related Olympians: Cousin of Harry Houghton.


The son of a Newcastle shipyard labourer, Alec Burns started running for a local YMCA in 1919 before joining Elswick Harriers in a career that would last for more than 13 years, and in winning the Saltwell Harriers annual 10k road race in 1928 he showed what potential he had. Burns went on to be placed second at the AAA Championships no less than eight times: 3 miles (1932), 6 miles (1935-37), and 10 miles (1932, 1935-37); the only AAA title Burns won was the 4 miles in 1931. He set UK record for both the 6 miles and 10K in 1936. He represented England in the International Cross Country Championships six times (1932, 1934-38), was runner-up in 1934, fifth in 1936-37, sixth in 1932, and won the English Cross-Country Championship in 1932. He also represented England in the 1934 British Empire Games and took the bronze medal in the 3 miles. Burns won the Northumberland and Durham senior three miles title in 1939 and was still running for Elswick Harriers into his mid-30s. He ran his last race in 1972 when he competed in the Newcastle to Gateshead race to raise funds for the 1972 Olympics. Burns died at the age of 95 in 2003 and the following year he was honoured with a plaque commemorating his life which was unveiled by the Lord Mayor of Newcastle at the Black Bull public house in the city, which was were Elswick Harriers had their headquarters. His grandson was Richard Burns, the 2001 World Rally Champion, who died at the age of 34 following a brain tumour in 2005.

Personal Bests: 3 miles – 14:22.0 (1932); 5000 – 14:56.0 (1931); 4 miles – 19:47.2 (1932); 5 miles – 29:45.0 (1936); 10000 – 30:58.2 (1936); 10 miles – 51:11.8 (1936).


Games Age City Sport Event Team NOC Rank Medal
1932 Summer 24 Los Angeles Athletics Men's 5,000 metres Great Britain GBR 7
1936 Summer 28 Berlin Athletics Men's 10,000 metres Great Britain GBR 5

Men's 5,000 metres

Games Age City Sport Country Phase Unit Rank T(H) T(A)
1932 Summer 24 Los Angeles Athletics Great Britain Final 7 15:04.4
1932 Summer 24 Los Angeles Athletics Great Britain Round One Heat Two 1 QU 15:25.8 15:25.83

Men's 10,000 metres

Games Age City Sport Country Phase Unit Rank T(H)
1936 Summer 28 Berlin Athletics Great Britain Final Standings 5 30:58.2
id: 68,930