Races: The Trails & Triumphs of Canada’s Fastest Family by Valerie Jerome

Jerome’s book, Races: The Trails & Triumphs of Canada’s Fastest Family is critically acclaimed and has inspired countless people all over Canada. Her track & field journey – a journey that took her to incredible peaks and valleys physically & emotionally is filled with history and stories of the Jerome family that’ll intrigue and inspire even the mildest sports fan. Jerome sets the record straight on her heroic family’s history, and the racism they fought along the way – from their community, the press, their country, and even inside their family home. Bringing readers inside the Jerome household, this book reveals the hurdles they faced during the heavily segregated 1960s and the long reach of racism that plagued their family history. A tale of courage and conviction, Races is a difficult, yet inspiring story of the Jerome family: what propelled them in life and on the track.

This book just isn’t a typical biography, it gives a great deal of historical information about the background of Canadian athletics during the 1900s. Jerome introduces us to her grandfather, John “Army” Howard, who was Canada’s first Black Olympian, running in Stockholm in 1912 against nearly impossible odds and triumphs in track and field.  

On Sept. 30, 1940, Harry Winston Jerome was born. Carolyn was born in 1942, Valerie in 1944, and little brother Barton in 1945. Louise, the youngest arrived in 1953. Harry Jerome, like his siblings, is bullied by racial animosity in the schoolyard, public spaces, buses, and cafes. The racist hatred is compounded, if not worse, by his own mom. She would mentally and physically be terrorizing the whole family. Harry found refuge in sports and friends then poured his stress into training. Harry encourages Valerie to get into athletics, to counteract the ongoing abuse at home. The two join a track club, and so begin the happiest years they have known to date. Valerie becomes an accomplished high jumper, long jumper, and sprinter.

Later in life Harry goes on to develop a curriculum for sport and fitness and works with the BC Human Rights Commission to fight racism in society.  Harry gets a federal job, touring the country with other Olympians, and demonstrating athletics to inspire students. The work gives him validation. He gets deep into coaching and organizing fitness for youth. He said this work and recognition were the most important in his life.

Jerome wrote this book over several decades, then searched for the right publisher to bring her family’s story to print. As a former track & field competitor I was so excited to have the opportunity to read and review this courageous story. A must-read filled with history and stories of the Jerome family that’ll intrigue and inspire even the mildest sports fan.


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Shawna is a mother and a retired athlete, coach and fitness professional. She currently works in the Beauty Industry with Drunk Elephant. In her spare time, she enjoy watching baseball, reading anything pertaining to sports, fashion, poetry and biographies. She likes to travel to anywhere warm and sunny. Shawna has a BBA from Mount Saint Vincent University and currently lives in Paradise, Newfoundland. New Instagram account @shawna.j.butler


The granddaughter of Canada’s first Black Olympian, John “Army” Howard, Valerie Jerome became Canadian senior women’s champion in the sprints and long jump at the age of 15 in 1959 and went on to represent Canada at the 1960 Rome Olympics, the Commonwealth Games, and the Pan American Games (where she won a bronze medal in the 4 x 100 metre relay). Away from the track, Jerome has represented the Green Party of British Columbia and is a recipient of the 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada Medal and a City of Vancouver Heritage Award for her work in conservation.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Goose Lane Editions (Sept. 12 2023)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 272 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1773102907
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1773102900

 -- Website

Shawna is a mother and a retired athlete, coach and fitness professional. She currently works in the Beauty Industry with Drunk Elephant. In her spare time, she enjoy watching baseball, reading anything pertaining to sports, fashion, poetry and biographies. She likes to travel to anywhere warm and sunny. Shawna has a BBA from Mount Saint Vincent University and currently lives in Paradise, Newfoundland. New Instagram account @shawna.j.butler