The Leeds punk rocker lived a double life, interspersing band rehearsals and punk gigs with twice-daily runs, despite the occasional arrest and moshpit injury. A new book tells his story

When Gary Devine was picked to run for England, the manager took one look at him and asked: “You’re gonna represent your country looking like that?!” Devine had turned up with shocking pink hair, holes in his jeans, a worn out band T-shirt and unlaced Doc Martens. Not that such a punky image stopped him becoming British fell running champion, after a race up Ben Nevis, the UK’s tallest mountain, in 1990. “Years later the manager told us that Gary had changed his life,” smiles Debbie Devine, Gary’s wife and coach. “He said ‘I learned not to judge a book by its cover.’”

Thirty one years on, Devine’s wonderful and often very funny story is told in a new book, Faster! Louder! How a Punk Rocker from Yorkshire Became British Champion Fell Runner. Author Boff Whalley was previously vocalist/guitarist in Leeds anarcho-punk band Chumbawamba, but is a fell runner too. “I got into it after seeing Gary win a race and recognising him from punk gigs,” he says as we all convene on Zoom. “It made me think ‘I could do that’. But Gary’s story is more extreme than mine. It needed writing.”

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