When he crossed the finish line of the London Marathon on April 28, NBR team captain James Gray King completed an incredible challenge: He earned the Abbott World Marathon Majors Six Star Medal for running all six of the world major marathons in the past 18 months (Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York City). Less than 5,000 people in the world have ever achieved this.
His new goal? “I’d like to run fewer marathons so close together, and see what I could do by training all out for one to really go for a great time. And maybe have a week off?”
NBR’s board chose James as one of May’s Runners of the Month to recognize his achievement.
What he loves about NBR: Mostly it’s the people, I have met some incredible friends (and my girlfriend Natalie) through NBR and been through good times and bad with them. It has also pushed me to be a better runner than I ever thought I could be. Overall though, having run races far and wide now, it’s pretty incredible to be able to hang out with teammates all over the world!
What he does when not running: I work in an Apple Store, and listen to all the same Hardcore and Indie bands I listened to 10 years ago. I am pretty sure I’ve become that old man that doesn’t think new bands are any good, although I’m trying to be better at that (sort of!).
How he got into running: We had a wellness challenge at work in February of 2015. I decided I would run a mile a day, pretty much my first miles ever. I hated it! That said, around the same time a friend was putting together a team for the charity Yamba Malawi, to run the Rock N Roll Brooklyn Half in the October. I am somewhat stubborn, an optimist and rather like doing things for charities. I decided to give it a shot and said to myself if I broke 2 hours I would run more... Low and behold, I beat it by the narrowest of margins and the rest is history!
Favorite race distance: I am 100% smitten with the marathon. At their absolute hardest is when you see the absolute best in people. It is also such a universal event for a city to get behind and you discover such a unique sense of character at each race that I feel it’s making my travel much richer. Conversely, I hate 5Ks and am pretty terrible at them!
Favorite NBR run: Thursday Night Track—because it's the best, but also I'm a run leader and it would be weird if I said something else.
Favorite NBR memory: I’m torn between seeing the NBR cheer squad out in force at mile 20 of the Berlin Marathon, and when six of us went on a group run in Amsterdam with all our singlets on. We likely looked like a very strange and non-threatening gang!
Best running moment: My first NYC Marathon finish in 2016. I think that’s when I really caught the bug!
Favorite running route in NYC: The 10-mile loop starting in Williamsburg, going over the bridge and looping back over Queensborough bridge is old faithful for me on mid-week longish runs. And running to the beach (any beach!)
How running has changed him: It has made change the bar for what I believe I could achieve. When I ran my first mile, I honestly could not understand how people could run 26 of them, let alone try to get quicker. It has also made me a more diligent person and (slightly) more organized. It also taught me I still have a problem with liking merch, I’ve just traded band T-Shirts for race shirts!
Favorite post-race food: Beer?! And chocolate milk. Like a proper grown up.
Favorite running gear: Nike 4%s!!!
Favorite pro runners: Kipchoge and Mo—by the time this is out I assume one of them will have just won London (again). They have such different mental approaches but are both incredibly down to earth considering the scale of their achievements.
The worst part about being a runner: The chafe! And being flaky with weekend plans!
Best advice to running newbies: Keep at it! You might the regret the run on you’re on, but you’ll never regret the run you did. Also, slow down as you learn and try to go a little further instead.
Fun facts: I once played in a hardcore band called Xmas Lights. And I lived in Kenya for a while, before I became a runner, what a missed opportunity to learn from the best!