This is James Adams.
The photos were taken at Country to Capital, where I managed to wangle a sweaty runner hug off him, mainly because the sun was in his eyes and he thought I was somebody else.
But that’s a minor detail that I shall gloss over, because he’s just published a book, and “hugging a famous author” may well trump “having a flying lesson from an Air Vice Marshal” as my future claim to fame.
The book itself is fabulous, but should come with a warning not to read it in public, as loud cackling and tears of laughter on a commuter train lead to very, very stony glares.
It contains detailed and extremely honest race reports for numerous marathons and ultras, including the Grand Union Canal Race, The Moose Ultra, Spartathlon, Badwater, Marathon des Sables and The Los Angeles to New York Footrace.
It includes very useful training tips for Marathon des Sables and top ultra-running wisdom, including “One of the most important ‘rules’ for multi-day racing is to test all of your kit lots and lots before you actually use it in the race.”
It offers evocative descriptions of small town America, my favourite being “From a distance, Needles looks like an oasis, a beautiful fertile area on a river punctuating the end of a hostile desert with trees and water and life. From a distance it looked like we were driving into heaven.”
It includes searingly honest descriptions of some of the emotional and physical highs and lows of ultra-running, such as “When I got back onto the road I felt like someone was scratching my arse with a rusty spanner”.
And once you get your head around the fact that the book is in the centre of a rift in the space-time continuum (most of the race reports were written at the time of the race, so all read as though they took place last week, but most of the linking material was written more recently, so talks about the same races as though they happened years ago), it is a delight to read.
So do yourself a favour and buy it. And then read it. Just not on a train in rush hour.