Jon James is a well known member and coach of Wells City Harriers and had lots to say about his running - past and present. 



Jon James

Interview - November 2023


When did you start running/what got you into running? 

I never really did it as an activity at school – you’re disadvantaged in school sport if you have a relatively late birthday in the academic year and are really short – which I was until I grew 6 inches when aged 17!  I started to run a bit at Uni, but only in my final year, after taking part in a low-key half-marathon on Southampton common and running 73 minutes (off little training), did I start to think that this might be the sport for me. 


How long have you been a WCH member for? 

Since 2000 when I moved to Somerset with my family – that’s when I got my WCH vest and it’s yet to part company with me!

A person in a race uniform

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One of Jon’s first appearance for WCH – National Road Relays (2000)


Do you have a running 'hero' or someone that inspired you to run?

Steve Ovett – made running hard fun!

Those of us in the club who remember Clive Thomas would appreciate me missing his wise words and encouragement.  


What runs do you enjoy the best?

You can’t beat running a session of 3 * 1 mile hard with 2 minutes recovery! Otherwise, undulating runs along the coast path are always really enjoyable. 


Where is the best place you have run? 

The most exhilarating run I’ve had was in a safari park in Malawi to escape some elephants – but that’s another story and I’ve clearly lived to tell the tale…..

I’m afraid that I don’t view running as a therapeutic activity – I’m in it to compete! So, the best places for me would be where I’ve been able to compete at a high level, e.g. competitions at Crystal Palace or the Alexandra Stadium in Birmingham. 


Do you/did you participate in any other sports?

Strangely, given my comments about height above, I did compete at basketball at Uni!

I now dabble with cycling when injured, but I’m always glad you don’t have to get too serious about it as a sport. 


What is your greatest running achievement? 

Something that won’t mean anything to anyone else, but that’s often the way!                  

1990 – Thames Valley Harriers road relays where I ran third leg and recorded 16.30 for the 3.5 mile course, only 20 seconds slower than Seb Coe who was running the same leg. Everything peaked and it felt effortless.


Most of your PBs came before digital records. Can you list a few? 

Track: 1500m – 3.53:  5000m – 14.29

Road: 10K – 30.10      10 miles – 50.17       Half-marathon: 01:08:13

I should have run quicker times at both ends of the spectrum: 1500m and the half-marathon, but I drifted away from the sport in my late 20s,  and didn’t really fulfil my potential to be honest. 

aaaJon JamesClevedon 4 mile race

Jon racing at Clevedon Boxing Day 4 Mile, 2021


Are there any standout moments during your time at Wells City Harriers (for yourself or other  members)? 

* Being part of road relay teams in the early 2000s, with for example the Tickner brothers, that did well at a national level.

* Being a member of the team that in the 2010-2011 season won the Gwent League division 1 and then last year (2022-23) won division 2.


When did you first represent England?

I got selected for the South of England at cross-country as a senior in 1990  - came 5th last in a match against the North, Midlands, and an armed forces team, but realised afterwards that I’d ran fine as nearly everyone else competing was a sub 30 minute 10K runner. 

Selected in 2009 for M45 age group England team in the British and Irish x-country international in Birmingham, and secured a bronze medal. 


How does it feel wearing an England vest? 

I’m half Welsh, so perhaps a bit strange! And it’s odd not wearing a vest that is over 20 years old.


How long have you been coaching for?

Since 2008 I think – I was injured at the time and talked into it by Clive Thomas.


What do you enjoy about being a running coach for Wells City Harriers?

Seeing athletes improve from whatever level of ability they started at. It’s increasingly more satisfying to see others putting in good performances, rather than focusing on my own. Athletic performance is not dependent on coaching, but that isn’t to say that the latter can’t be helpful for people. 


You have been injured for a while, how is the recovery going?

Slowly, but trying to get things right so that I don’t immediately break down again.


What are your future plans with your running? 

To keep running fast, over whatever distance I’m competing. Possibly the world masters athletics championships next year, as I shall be in a new age group. 


Why Wells City Harriers?

Because you should support and be loyal to your local running club – we punch above our weight, but cater for all running abilities. 

A person holding a trophy

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 Christmas Cracker Race Winner – 1988, 15K race in Reading


To view Jon's performaces, visit his 'Power of 10' and 'Run Britain' profiles, by clicking on the images below. 


power of 10                                           RunBritain