Jamie McDonald is a world-record-holding adventurer, bestselling author, motivational speaker and co-founder of Superhero Foundation. As a child, Jamie McDonald spent the first nine years of his life in hospital with a rare spinal condition, syringomyelia. In 2012 Jamie began an adventurous fundraising quest to give back to the hospitals that helped him as a child by cycling 14,000 miles from Bangkok to Gloucester. Using a second-hand bike bought for just £50, Jamie McDonald cycled through more than twenty countries on his way home. Just weeks after returning to Gloucester, Jamie McDonald decided to attempt the world record for cycling non-stop on a static bike. Jamie stepped off the bike, as the Marathon Static Cycling – Guinness World Record holder. Cycling more than 12 days. Having raised more than £20,000 during the two challenges. In February 2013, two months after setting the new world record, Jamie McDonald used his savings to travel to Canada, where he continued his fundraising efforts, again for the children’s charities that helped him as a child. Jamie ran 5,000 miles (equivalent to 200 marathons), across Canada without a support crew – raising more than a $500,000 along the way. Recently, Jamie was the winner for the Pride of Britain ‘Fundraiser of the Year’, was named ‘runner of the year’ in Canada, recognised by the likes of Prince Harry, Sir Ranulph Fiennes and was voted one of The Independent’s top 100 happiest people in the UK. A truly inspirational human being, please enjoy my interview with Jamie McDonald.
When someone asks you ‘what do you do for a living?’ – How do you respond?
I’m an adventurer, author, motivational, and co-founder of the Superhero Foundation.
My girlfriend Anna McNuff’s book The Pants of Perspective; she ran solo across New Zealand and the book contains the love story about how we met, she is my adventure queen!
When you think about your childhood, what book comes to mind?
Ultramarathon man; Confessions of an All-Night Runner by Dean Karnazes; I read it when I was 16, prior to that I hadn’t realised people could run more than 26 miles and it blew my mind!
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I wanted to be a tennis player and win Wimbledon but unfortunately, I was rubbish!
What do you think your school-aged self would think of the present day you?
He would be surprised that I managed to achieve what I have done with my running and fundraising, but he’d be proud!
If you could wrap up a single book and gift it to yourself as you left education – which book would it be and why?
Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela because it is so inspiring and about a role model making a difference which would have been perfect for me at the age when I left school
Does your reading have routine? Is there a particular time or place that you like to read?
Definitely at bedtime.
Which book has had the biggest impact on your career so far? How did it impact it?
Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela, it inspired me to want to make a difference to other people, and now that is what I am lucky enough to do through my fundraising adventures.
Do you have any books that you strongly associate with someone important in your life?
Open by Andre Agassi, I associate this book with a great friend of mine. The element of the book that stood out to me was about working hard, and that is what I learnt from my friend.
What book have you recommended the most to friends and family?
The book I’ve recommended most is Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story by Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction?
I prefer non-fiction.
Do you think reading is important?
Yes – stories empower us, inspire us and develop our thought process.
What’s the best book you’ve read in the last 6 months?
Myths of PR: All Publicity Is Good Publicity and Other Popular Misconceptions by Rich Leigh, my good friend. Rich was instrumental in helping with the fundraising for my 5000 mile solo run across Canada. I found it enlightening to read his book and have an insight into his PR world!
Do you prefer real books or digital books?
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho – I think it is an enjoyable story that can bring everyone a heightened self-awareness.
What is the book that you feel has had the single biggest impact on your life? What impact did it have?
Ultramarathon Man; Confessions of an All-Night Runner by Dean Karnazes. I didn’t realise how much this book inspired me at the time of reading it – however, it seemed to lodge itself in my subconscious as a game-changer as now I run across countries!
Are there any books you haven’t mentioned that you feel would make your reading list?
I think I may have mentioned most books that I have read in my 31 years!
What books or subject matter do you plan on reading in the next year?
I am setting off on my next adventure next year, so I will be running across the USA with no reading opportunity!
If you were to write an autobiography – what would it be called?
I guess I have already called it Adventureman; Anyone Can be a Superhero! That is the name of the book I have written which focuses mainly on my Canadian run (for which I dressed as the superhero, ‘The Flash’). The run made me realise that my ethos in life is that anyone indeed can be a superhero, inspiring me to cofound the Superhero Foundation and encourage others to believe this for themselves too! It is more a snippet of life thus far rather than an autobiography though.