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The Ghost Runner


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The true and heartbreaking story of a man the world came to know as The Ghost Runner

About the Author

Bill Jones worked for Granada Television for 27 years, where he was an award-winning documentary maker. He now works as a freelance writer and programme maker. He was researching a documentary about the centenary of the Manchester running club Salford Harriers in 1985 when he first came across the story of John Tarrant (a former Harriers member) and it has haunted him ever since.


In his first book, Jones, a longtime documentary filmmaker for Granada TV, tells the story of the 1960s British runner John Tarrant (1932-75). That story illustrates how so-called "old fat men" ruled British amateur sports and strictly adhered to Victorian standards of amateurism, thus closing participation in international and Olympic sports to working-class Britons, who lacked independent means to train and compete without stipends or funding. Jones relates how Tarrant was declared a professional and thus barred from international competition for accepting about $250 in expense money once as a teenage boxer before he switched to running. Tarrant won many road races and set several world records between 1960 and 1970, often as a "ghost runner," i.e., an unofficial and unregistered participant. For a decade and a half, Tarrant unsuccessfully and bitterly fought against the amateur establishment for the right to race officially and represent Britain internationally. Jones vividly captures the world of the 1960s British working class and club athletes, who worked days, trained evenings, and competed weekends. VERDICT The Ghost Runner will appeal to those interested in the history of "amateurism" in sports, especially in international sports competitions.-Mark K. Jones, Mercantile Lib., Cincinnati (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

A terrific story - a comic strip hero made flesh, with all the human complications that entails * Daily Mail *
Tarrant's poignant story is wonderfully refreshing and beautifully told * The Sun *
A fantastic story of the underdog * Metro *
Makes fascinating reading * Manchester Evening News *
Bill Jones used to make documentaries, and he retains that discipline's eye for telling details and evocative shots * The Times *

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