The First and Only Footrace from John O’Groats to Land’s End.
How a Russian doctor and Billy Butlin brought Britain to the side of the road
“I very much enjoyed this book. A wonderfully accessible look at the development and history of marathons, with particular emphasis on the difficult and enigmatic Barbara Moore.” Wishing Shelf
In 1960, Britain was swept by a craze for marathons, embodied in an eccentric 56-year-old Russian: motorcycle champion, former Leningrad death row inmate, radical dietician Dr Barbara Moore. Keen to exploit this new fad, holiday camp pioneer Billy Butlin organised the first and indeed only walking/running race from John O’Groats to Land’s End. Despite opposition, 715 participants started off, with the hardiest captivating the nation during that drab winter. A fascinating and quirky story of daring, entrepreneurship, and good old ‘British pluck’: a story that deserves re-telling for the modern audience.
The first chapter of The Great Billy Butlin Race (titled The Footsloggers), was shortlisted for the inaugural Writers &Artists Working-Class Writers’ Prize.