submitted by Tony Mangan
James Zarei was 39 when he pulled on a pair of running shoes for the first time. “I could only manage 100 metres,” he recalled. Thirteen years later, distance has become no object to the British running hero who is not so much unsung as unheard of.
It might have been different had he stuck to 100m. As Alan Storey, former British marathon coach and now general manager of the London Marathon, put it: “He’d probably be a millionaire if he were a sprinter.” It is Zarei’s misfortune – good fortune, he would insist – that he has found his running feet at the other end of the scale. He is idolised in Greece, where he has twice won the 164-mile Spartathlon race. And he is big in Japan, where he has won the 279-mile Hiroshima to Nagasaki Peace Run three times. But in Britain, where he won the most recent six-day race by 55 miles, averaging just a few yards short of four marathons a day, Zarei is an unknown foot-soldier, just another face in the running crowd.