Book review: In it for the Long Run by Damian Hall. Published by Vertebrate. £12.99

ON the May 25 and 26, 2021, Damian Hall ran the 185 miles from St Bees on the Cumbrian coast to Robin Hoods Bay on the Yorkshire Coast, Wainwright’s Coast to Coast route, in a new record time of 39 hours and 18 minutes, beating the previous record by 18 minutes.

Whilst this new record and achievement is obviously not included in Damian’s new book which has just been published by Vertebrate it does include the narrative of many of his previous records and long distance runs up to the end of 2020.

The book contains 19 chapters charting Damian’s running career over the previous decade from being a journalist and amateur long-distance runner to the present time where he is now a professional long-distance runner who writes articles and blogs of his races and challenges and is a UK Athletics coach.

Over the ten-year period from 2011 to 2020 Damian has broken into the top ten of competitors in the UTMB (Ultra Trail de Mont Blanc) and set the fastest time for a Winter completion of the Paddy Buckley round in Wales of 17 hours 31 minutes and 39 seconds – 11 minutes inside the previous record covering 63 miles and visiting 47 summits in Snowdonia. He has also set the fastest time for the Cape Wrath Trail with Beth Pascall covering the 230 miles from Fort William to Cape Wrath in 4 days, 9 hours and 34 minutes and the 630-mile South West Coast path in 10 days, 15 hours and 18 minutes knocking nearly 17 hours off the previous record.

The last two chapters of the book cover Damian’s attempt to break the record for running the Pennine Way. On 22 July 2020 Damian set off from Kirk Yetholm in Scotland to run the 261 miles to Edale in Derbyshire which he completed 2 days, 13 hours and 35 minutes setting a new record and breaking the previous one set only a week or so earlier by 3 hours and 11 minutes. One interesting fact I discovered in these chapters about the Pennine Way run was that there are a total of 287 gates on the route and because Damian’s pacers opened each of these gates for him, thus saving about 10 seconds at each gate, this enabled him to save approximately 47 minutes overall.

The enormity of some of these records is mind blowing and one cannot help but be amazed by Damian’s courage and fortitude whilst setting these records. For runners and non-runners alike, this book is an amazing read and one that once started is extremely difficult to put down.

by John Burland