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  Thursday, 12 April, 2001, 11:21 GMT 12:21 UK
Marathon mood music
The Trap, aka The London Marathon theme, composer Ron Goodwin
BBC Sport Online's Matt Slater discovers the story behind the BBC's London Marathon signature tune, The Trap.

For Ron Goodwin the idea of running half a mile, let alone 26, is, well, ridiculous.

"Well at 76 it's pretty much out of the question, but even when I was a young man I was a lazy bugger," said Goodwin.

"I would get out of breath running for a bus."

Strange then that Goodwin's tune, The Trap, has been used by the BBC as the signature music for the London Marathon for the past 20 years.

  Ron Goodwin
Born 17 Feb, 1925 in Plymouth, England
1943: Joined music publishers Campbell, Connelly & Co
1945: Head of arranging dept at Bron Associated Publishers, writes music for Petula Clark and Jimmy Young
1950: Joins Parlophone, works with Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan and Sophia Loren
1960: Starts writing film scores for MGM - composes music for Where Eagles Dare, 633 Squadron, Battle of Britain, Frenzy et al
Wins his third Ivor Novello award, this time for lifetime achievement
It is even stranger when you consider it was written with Oliver Reed canoeing down a Canadian stream in mind, not thousands of runners pounding the streets of London.

Goodwin penned The Trap for the 1966 film of the same name. Starring Reed, as a grizzly Canadian backwoodsman, the film was a moderate, if not enduring, success.

Goodwin's ditty, however, has become THE music for marathon running.

And if the hundreds of letters to The Radio Times after marathon weekend are anything to go by, it remains a very popular piece of writing.

But it was not always so well received.

"I recall the first time the film producer, George Brown, heard the tune," said Goodwin.

"This was before synthesizers and modern recording techniques, so I had to bash something out on the piano, tape it and then send it over to Vancouver, where they were filming.

"I think his immediate reaction was that it was a bad recording of a lousy pianist playing an out-of-tune piano.


The first I knew of it was when my wife shouted to me while I was in the shower, 'They're playing your music during the marathon!'
Ron Goodwin
Composer of The Trap
"He politely told me it wasn't loud and bold enough, but I could hear it in my head and knew that it would be fine when played properly with an orchestra.

"When we actually recorded it for real, George loved it and told me he loved the changes I had made. The thing was, I hadn't changed a thing," said Goodwin.

Having cleared that early hurdle, The Trap has certainly lasted the distance.

"I'm not really sure how it became the BBC's marathon music, but I'm pleased that it has," said Goodwin.

"I never intended it to accompany running, but it was supposed to depict a certain amount of energy being expended.

"Having said that, I had no idea the BBC had started to use it.

"The first I knew of it was when my wife shouted to me while I was in the shower one morning, 'They're playing your music during the marathon!'."

Wildman of British acting Oliver Reed
It was with Reed in mind that Goodwin penned his tune
Although The Trap is Goodwin's only sporting theme tune, he has written over 60 film scores, including the music for hits such as Where Eagles Dare, Monte Carlo or Bust and Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines.

Now living in Brimpton Common, near Reading, Goodwin still travels the world playing his music with leading orchestras.

But for the five million viewers who watch the BBC's race coverage, Goodwin will always be best known for the London Marathon 'theme tune'.

"Yes, it's funny," said Goodwin. "Oliver Reed liked it a lot too.

"We tried to get Ollie to record a version of him singing a few words that somebody wrote to accompany the tune.

"He did a reasonable job at dinner one evening, but when we got to the studio his voice wasn't really up to it.

"And I remember him turning around to us and saying, 'If you wanted a singer you should have hired Frank Sinatra'."

Whether the BBC would have been interested in Reed's dulcet tones is a moot point, but fans of The Trap can give thanks that it was the hell-raiser's canoeing that inspired a classic.


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12 Apr 01 | London Marathon
12 Apr 01 | London Marathon
12 Apr 01 | London Marathon
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