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Running the Race: Eric Liddell -- Olympic Champion and Missionary Paperback – June 1, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


Press comments on the 1st Edition of Running the Race
"The book is an outstanding tribute, a model of research, and a fascinatingly credible insight on the man..."
Doug Gillon, in The Herald
"John Keddie's acclaimed Running the Race, a biography that places Liddell's sporting life in the religious context in which it was lived..."
Brendan Gallagher, in The Daily Telegraph

From the Author

Of all Scottish sportsmen who ever lived the name of Eric Liddell (1902-1945) is one of the best known. When names were solicited of sportsmen and women to be inducted into the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame, the name of Eric Liddell was the most prominent. But Eric Liddell's continuing popularity in his native land - as well as in China, the place of his birth and death - is most remarkable. After all, he passed away in 1945 and people rather easily forget the stars of the past. What can we say of Eric Liddell's continuing popularity?

Eric Liddell was a celebrity in his own day in view of his surprising Olympic triumph at Paris in 1924. For Scots this has been a rare accomplishment. There have only been three Scottish Olympic champions in individual track events in the 116 years of the Games. In Liddell's case this popularity has been enhanced by the award winning film Chariots of Fire (1981).The continuing fascination, however, also relates to his sticking to his Christian principles in foregoing Sunday sport and in what he did afterwards in going as a missionary to China.

He was a man who stood for something. He believed in God; he lived for Jesus Christ; he lived by the Bible; he was a man of prayer. These things seem strange to our secular age, yet they also attract, for we are in a day looking for virtue, for good standards, and for hope. Eric is a man of unsullied reputation. He was serious; but he was also full of the joy of life. He looked for heaven, but he loved life. What he showed in his running - seriousness and joyfulness - he also showed in his Christian living. He gives evangelical Christianity a good name.

First of all, he left a legacy as an exemplary athlete. In an age in which there is such an intensity in international sport - and not a little suspicion of scandal and willingness to win at all costs - Eric Liddell can be held up as a model of honest endeavour. Sport was not his chief end, yet he always gave his all. His Olympic victory was a triumph of honest endeavour, but it didn't turn his head. He is a wonderful role model for any generation. Another aspect of his legacy is a religious one:He was devoted to the Biblical faith. He is a great example of living, purposeful faith in God.

We continue to remember Eric Liddell, sporting hero and missionary. Running the Race has been a labour of love about one whose life and example has touched many lives over the years. Running the Race seeks to weave together in a seamless tapestry Eric's sporting achievements and Christian work. It is for the greater part a sporting biography, but a sporting biography involving what we might call 'muscular' Christianity. May it be an inspiration and blessing to all who read it.

John W Keddie
Author, Running the Race

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More About the Author


Born in Edinburgh in 1946.

Educated in the city and began training as an Accountant after leaving School in 1965.

Competed in athletics and rugby, becoming Scottish Junior triple jump champion in 1965 and represented a Scottish team that year. Competed for Edinburgh Southern Harriers and Mitcham A.C. Played senior rugby for his former pupils club [Boroughmuir], 1966-1970. Won blue in athletics at Heriot Watt University, 1968.

Moved to London, 1971 and qualified as a member of the Association of Certified Accountants. Worked in London up to the end of 1982, including a spell as Commercial Manager of the marketing section of Dunlop Sports Company.

Long had a close interest in Eric Liddell, both as an athlete and a Christian/Missionary. (Influential in his becoming a Christian in 1965). Assisted the writer of screenplay (Colin Welland) for Chariots of Fire in depicting the character of Eric Liddell. A character named 'Col John Keddie' was included in film as 'thanks'.

Wrote the official centenary history of the Scottish Amateur Athletics Association, published in 1982 [Scottish Athletics]. Subsequently wrote two biographies of Eric Liddell: Running the Race [EP Books, 2007 - 2nd Edition, 2012]; and Finish the Race [for younger people, Christian Focus, 2011]. These books have gone through several printings and have been widely acclaimed.

Writer of an outstanding biography of a Scottish minister and theological Professor, George Smeaton [EP Books, 2007] as well as an influential popular book on the singing of Bible Psalms in worship, Sing the Lord's Song [2nd Edition, Crown & Covenant Publications, 2003]. John Keddie has written widely for sports and Christian papers and magazines.

Entered the ministry of a Presbyterian Church in Scotland in 1987. Served at Burghead (Morayshire) and Bracadale (Isle of Skye) before retirement in April 2012. He continues to act as lecturer in Church History in the denomination's Seminary in Inverness.

Married to Jean (since 1971) with 4 children and 11 grandchildren.

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