Beer and Brine: The Making of Walter George - Athletics' First Superstar
by Rob Hadgraft
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British author Rob Hadgraft specialises in biographies of marathon and ultra-distance runners. All are available worldwide as ebooks. His five subjects to date are:1. The Little Wonder: The Untold Story of Alfred Shrubb - World Champion Runner.2. Beer and Brine: The Making of Walter George - Athletics' First Superstar.3. Deerfoot: Athletics' Noble Savage - From Indian Reservation to Champion of the World.4. Tea with Mr Newton: 100,000 Miles - The Longest Protest March in History.5. Plimsolls On, Eyeballs Out: The Rise and Horrendous Fall of Marathon Legend Jim Peters. Walter George was the sickly child who grew up to become the greatest athlete the world had ever seen. And not only was he the quickest runner over a range of distances, he lived fast too. His weakness was a beer, a cigar and a spree and he gambled heavily. But this was the late 19th century and the worlds first official amateur champion had no role models to emulate or coaching manuals to guide him. As a result, some of his escapades simply beggar belief. A typical episode involved a drunken midnight race along Regent Street with pals. Ignoring a London bobbys advice to go home to bed, George then trekked though the night to meet a lady-friend. This was followed by a hectic mornings shopping and lavish lunch in the West End before our hero bowled merrily into the Lillie Bridge stadium to casually smash a world record! Despite his carefree lifestyle, there was a serious side to George, whose innovative training included a zen-like exercise programme he called 100-up, and lengthy sessions soaking in brine baths. As a raw youngster George carefully planned how hed break the world mile record by a huge margin. His friends laughed him out of the clubhouse when they saw the details in his notebook. A few years later he shocked the sporting world by achieving this target to the second. The record would stand for 29 years - a unique achievement. In his day he was the talk of the land - arguably the sporting worlds very first superstar. Even in 1887 he was forced to get married in secret to dodge fans and admirers. Walter George was a national institution, the original lovable rogue of sport. He liked a drink and a smoke and gambled himself into heavy debt. His key training session was a relaxing brine bath. Yet he dominated athletics like a colossus, winning championships and smashing world records galore. They said his miracle mile at Lillie Bridge would never be surpassed. In fact, the record stood for 29 years and inspired subsequent generations to attempt a crack at the four-minute mile. In the days when Britannia ruled the waves, Walter George was a true world champion and the pride of the British Empire. Told for the first time, this is the story of a remarkable athletics pioneer.
- Desert Island Books, October 2012
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