James Stewart

Book Review: In It For the Long Run by Damian Hall


If you want a book with lumpy bobbins, puns tea’d up (see what I did there!) and a story of midlife crisis runner finding their purpose laden with viciously funny vignettes then this is for you.

And, if that book was to be inspiring and wholly relatable, as well as being filled with engaging stories and personalities to leave you ready to grab your shoes to go battle tussock, heather and scree it would be an added bonus right?

Well if that sounds up your street then grab a copy of Damo’s book.

In It For the Long Run chronicles Damo’s journey from fattening dad plodder with a five-a-side habit to world class ultra runner, record breaker and environmental activist.

Now, I suspect Damo will immediately cringe at being called world class. But he is. And, he does it his way. It’s clear in the book that he’s battled through many doubts, contradictions and setbacks to become, in his own words, a professional athlete.

We hear about his naivety, how he learns from it and how it spurs him on. From the early days where you can almost imagine him rocking up at a start line with a pair of white sand shoes, an Arsenal strip and a nutrition plan that looks something like a weekend at Bernie’s, to working out how many minutes he’d save by having people open gates for him all down the Pennine Way.

His growth in the sport is exponential. And I am pretty certain he’s still shocked sometimes at how he from Bath half marathon to UTMB superstar. It’s the running equivalent of the bends.

I loved reading his stories, which you can almost read in his voice. His humility and what appears discomfort in his sharing of these stories is hidden behind a veneer of self-deprecation. Make no mistake, his deflection away from his achievements and talents belie a deep competitor’s determination which without there would be no book, no records and no teabags in John Kelly’s shopping trolley.

The highlight of the book for me is his section on Extinction Rebellion, his involvement and his why. For many of us, the vulnerability of looking like a hypocrite as we type up a book review written on an iPad whilst sitting in a middle class pad with a middle class job, can be too much to bear. Damo owns his need to be better here and helps you, the reader, take the first and right steps to become more engaged and aware of the challenges we face as the world heats up. It was a great reminder to me that being perfect in this space is not the issue, but rather, not trying to be that bit better is.

There’s many parallels between our careers. We both started running late, both somehow managed to get GB vests, have both won races we’d only dreamed of and both have young kids, family and a love for Kieran Tierney.

The differences are, he’s a better writer, runner, activist, Mohawk wearer and bog jumper than me. Oh and give me coffee and flat laps any day over tea and hills!

Damo wrote a nice line when he signed my book. But in reality, reading this has inspired me to try harder as both a runner, a parent and an environmental activist. A+, it is not bobbins, it’s brilliant.

Rumours of a follow up where he charts his attempt at the Spine Race dressed as a toilet are to be confirmed.

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