"The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat." -Theodore Roosevelt

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Book review: The Ghost Runner

Or, to give the book its full title "The Ghost Runner: The Tragedy of the Man They Couldn't Stop". The book is a biography and is about the life of John Tarrant.

I read this book last year, however, there was a small feature about John Tarrant on The One Show by Iwan Thomas which prompted me to write this review as the book is so good.

So, back to the book, and John Tarrant. The story tells of a young boy who at the age of 18 starts boxing as a way to keep fit and earn some money. In total, he was paid £17 in expenses.

His boxing career was short lived; mainly because he wasn't very good at it (aside form his dogged determination, which would serve him well later in life), so he moved on to running. John Tarrant discovered that running was something he was actually pretty good at, and before too long decided to join the Amateur Athletics Association (AAA).

However, back in t'day Athletics was amateur; rules clearly stipulated you should take no payment and, as John Tarrant had taken payment from boxing (albeit as expenses) he was banned from joining the AAA, for life.

Undeterred by this Tarrant continued to run, and gatecrashed races that he wasn't allowed to run in, (hence gaining the nickname the ghost runner) in a bid to prove himself to the AAA that he was worthy of being a member, as well as trying to fulfill his lifelong dream of competing for his country in the Olympics.

The book goes on to describe the many races he entered, records he set (including the record for the marathon of my home city; Liverpool), his fight to become an AAA member, as well as his working and family life before his premature death due to cancer.

The book is an excellent read and provides a heartbreaking insight into the life of a world class athlete who just wanted to run, and in doing so, pushed everyone close to him away. It is a very sobering story and a must for runners who want to know about a very much one off character and athlete.

Please, please, please, if you get a chance, read this book!

No comments:

Post a Comment