The incredible, inspiring, and heartbreaking story of a phenomenal long-distance runner’s race against insurmountable odds and his own demons.
John Tarrant was one of the best runners the world has ever seen. With a strange, loping gate and a nearly fanatical determination, he dominated the field and crushed ultra-long distance records for 40 and 100 miles.
As a teenage boxer in the 1950s, Tarrant received £17 payment for a match, a pittance that would haunt him for the rest of his life by compromising his amateur athlete status. He would spend his career fighting the rule that banned him from competing, gatecrashing races, and running without a number. Dubbed “the Ghost Runner,” he would again and again defy the odds, making history without officially being recognized for his achievements.
This is the captivating story of his lifelong struggle for victory, acceptance, and justice, from his difficult start as a poor child in WWII England to his fight to legitimize interracial races in Apartheid South Africa. Based on accounts from family, friends, and competitors and told with brutal honesty, Bill Jones uncovers one of the greatest untold sports stories of our time and documents the life of a man who simply would not be stopped.
“Jones tells the story very well . . . restores his legend while revealing his very human frailties.” —Kirkus Reviews
Sparked by seeing a 1985 documentary of the Manchester running club Salford Harriers, Jones realizes the life of John Tarrant, noted athlete and a former Harriers member, could be a promising book subject. A veteran of Granada Television, the author examines Tarrant, The Ghost Runner, from his rough-and-tumble London childhood in the 1930s, his stint in a brutal child s home, his mother s tragic death, through his short-lived boxing career ended by serious injury. Tarrant, a self-centered and single-minded athlete, turned to track and long-distance running with great focus, but after several mishaps with numerous racing organizations, he was barred from competing. The Tarrant legend grew as he disguised himself and ran with no number on his shirt, defying the officials and endearing himself to the adoring British public. Despite his courageous English track exploits, Tarrant s reputation was solidified when he challenged the rigid apartheid rules in South Africa to race along with the colored citizenry. In the end, Jones has written a vibrant account of endurance and rebellion.