The Untold Story of Alf Shrubb,  World Champion Runner'



'The Little Wonder' won the

  William Hill Sportsbook of the Year

 category in 2004

for Best Dust-Jacket Design.


‘In The Little Wonder, author Rob Hadgraft has compiled a marvellously researched biography of Shrubb who, a century ago, broke the world record at every distance between 5 and 10 miles.’

Birmingham Post & Mail


‘Shrubb’s biography represents a milestone in sport literature. All the information reported is the outcome of thorough investigation and analysis of several sources . . . a deep insight into the history, culture and life of Britain at the beginning of the 20th century.’

– Oscar Vecchi, Italian  historian


‘Today [05-11-04] is the ideal opportunity to pay homage, exactly 100 years after the event, to one of the greatest individual runs from a British athlete. Chances are you have never heard of Alf Shrubb, but it is never too late to recognise sporting genius.’

- The Daily Telegraph


The Little Wonder tells the mysterious story of Alfred Shrubb … It is a story that is richly evocative of the heyday of Edwardian athletics.’

-  The Guardian


‘The strongest contender for the greatest athlete never to have won an Olympic medal must surely be Alf Shrubb, who was the world’s greatest distance runner 100 years ago. When he beat Olympic marathon champion Billy Sherring, Shrubb had time after finishing to return to the changing rooms, fetch his camera and take a picture of Sherring coming in second.’

- The Daily Mail


‘Shrubb is the subject of a delightfully-crafted biography which recounts not just his exploits, but brings alive a fascinating era of sport.’

- The Glasgow Herald


‘Only now, in the centenary of his finest year, has this tiny Englishman been given due recognition in a finely-crafted biography.’

(Named one of ‘Six of the Best’ running books of 2004)

- Athletics Weekly


‘One of the great personalities of running, the colourful Shrubb at last receives the attention he deserves in a new biography by English journalist and runner Rob Hadgraft. It’s a model of thorough research in contemporaneous magazines and newspapers as well as good recent sources and personal interviews. Shrubb’s daughter, in her 90s, enabled Hadgraft to elevate the book into something close to a real biography, a rarity in the literature of running.

- Running Times (USA)


‘The astonishing life of the Sussex athlete who set seven world records in one night, escaped death from an iceberg, and raced against horses after his ban from the Olympics.’

- The Brighton Argus


‘Hadgraft has meticulously gathered information on Shrubb from all corners of the globe … For every Alf Shrubb running disaster, there are a dozen triumphs. Forget Alf Tupper. Alf Shrubb was the real Tough of the Track.’

- Herald Group (West Sussex)


‘Hadgraft details the lesser known side to Shrubb’s life in fascinating detail … Thanks to this new book Alfred Shrubb’s varied and extraordinary life is told.’

- West Sussex County Times


‘Alfred Shrubb went on to become one of the most famous runners in the world. In 1904 he travelled to Glasgow and set seven world records in one night, some of which remained unbroken for nearly 50 years.’

- Rochdale Observer


‘Hadgraft’s research took him to Canada and Australia, and the tale has attracted the interest of film-makers.’

- Colchester Evening Gazette


‘Those of us interested in the sport’s beginnings just have to find out more about Alf Shrubb.’

- Running Fitness


'I hadn’t realised there was so much more [about Shrubb] to be discovered. Rob describes himself as a club runner with long experience as a ‘middle of the pack’ performer. As a researcher and biographer he is a high achiever. This is profusely illustrated and very good value. Rob brings us closer to the man and his achievements than any writer ever has. This sits comfortably on my shelves along such favourites as ‘The Legend of Lovelock’ and ‘Za-to-pek, Za-to-pek, Za-to-pek’.'

 - Peter Lovesey (Track Stats magazine)


‘This forgotten hero of British athletics is wonderfully brought to life in this fine biography. It’s clearly a labour of love for the author but it’s story that is richly evocative of the heyday of Edwardian athletics.

- Sportsbooks, London


'Hadgraft captures a sense of the athletics scene, both amateur and professional, at the very beginning of the 20th century.'

- British Runner magazine


‘I have been most impressed, it’s a terrific read. This excellent book has its foreword written by our own all-time great Ron Clarke. I can thoroughly recommend this to anyone who loves our sport and its history.’

- The Hunter (Australia)


The great thing about this book is how it takes something forgotten by everybody and brings it back to vivid life. This book is begging for a nibble from a film producer.’

- Danny Kelly on BBC London


‘Wonderful book … fab pictures … really a cracking story.’

- Dave Monk on BBC Essex


'Alf Shrubb should never have been forgotten and Chelmsford author Rob Hadgraft and Southend publisher Clive Leatherdale – both keen sportsmen – have set out to redress matters. Rob’s biography should ensure that Alf’s reputation runs the distance down the years. As well as the spectacular and colourful life of Shrubb, the book also brings alive the lost world of amateur sporting frenzy in which he flourished . . . this carefully researched homage proves that Essex, which always treated Alf as one of its own, still has a place in its heart for The Little Wonder.’

- Evening Echo, Southend


‘There are very few decent running biographies out there - this is one of them. It is a thorough and detailed account of a legend's dominance of middle distance running with fascinating insights into an era when a man like Shrubb (from a working class background) was only able to succeed in the amateur ranks with the benefit of patronage that ultimately led to his expulsion from the amateur sport and some amazing professional races in the States.’

- Amazon.com (T.E.W)



*  (BELOW) The day I became a magazine  cover star ...... !        Yes, shorts were rather tiny in those days!

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© Rob Hadgraft