Book: An Accidental Athlete

by John Bingham

John “The Penguin” Bingham has a knack for great quotes and drops a lot of them as he tells his story about not being good at athletics as a kid even though he really wanted to be. By his 30’s he had become an overweight smoker and had given up on his aspirations of being an athlete. Then a gentleman where he worked got him interested in biking. Eventually at the age of 43, he discovered running and never looked back. Since then he has run an enormous number of races including over 40 marathons and even some triathlons.

John Bingham is an advocate for the people who participate races for fun with little desire to win anything. They just want to see how well they can do. He says that people who cross the finish line angry have missed a great opportunity to enjoy the experience and what they have accomplished.

One of the most interesting things that he talks about in this book is how the competition at the back of the race is every bit as intense as at the front of the race. Not everyone is an elite runner but they are ALL competing. The person who finishes 497 out of 500 was trying hard to catch up to number 496. He knows this for a fact because he has come in dead last several times and witnessed these fierce battles first-hand.

It’s refreshing to read the about someone who runs purely for the joy of it. He doesn’t care about being the fastest in his age group or even getting a PB. At the time this book was written, he was in his 60’s and had been running for 19 years yet can’t imagine himself ever quitting. He just loves to run, plain and simple. I think a lot of us can relate to that.