This was possibly my most recent acquisition when I went to take it off the shelf, or I was trying to read it to take to last Saturday’s running club awards night for the swaps table (that obviously didn’t work). The one from the new end, one from the old end, one off the KIndle reading pattern is sort of working, although the oldest book is now backed up until May 2018, which makes me twitchy. I might just try to power through a lot of the TBR then start again with a single shelf (hollow laugh). Anyway, a book review. This was the only book I bought in a five minute charity shop dash in Alderley Edge after we spent too much time having lunch and chats and not enough time book shopping.

Bill Jones – “The Ghost Runner”

(24 October 2019, Alderley Edge charity shop)

The biography of John Tarrant, a talented long-distance runner who ran marathons and ultras well before they were mass-participation events, and did so numberless and sneaking onto the course, because before he became a runner, he took a small amount of payment for boxing expenses, therefore could never run as an amateur. His life was one long round of training, running and campaigning, and even when he secured a part-victory, it was never enough, as he wasn’t able to run for his country.

Tarrant ended up helping to break apartheid in South African sport, running Comrades Ultra as a ghost runner three times along with Black South African and Indian runners, but also taking part in integrated training and races. He died young after a battle with stomach cancer (linked to battles with his digestive system throughout his running career: perhaps not one to leaf through at the table) and the author makes a decent book out of a difficult man who wrote quite a bad memoir himself.

A testament to the love and support of his wife and brother, both of whom didn’t get off lightly on the sidelines of his single-minded pursuits, and it’s nice that the author was able to visit some pretty elderly runners who were competitors of Tarrant’s in his glory days – and all supportive of him, which is how he managed to do it.