James was exposed to race walking early, first learning to race walk at the age of 10 but not actually racing until the age of 12 when his coach asked him to race the 800m walk. While winning his division, he got beat by two girls in the next division up. While not exactly a politically correct motivation, James did not want that to happen again.
In high school James skipped track to concentrate on cross country, soccer and swimming. He graduated from Western Washington University in 1987 with a degree in business administration and immediately became a player on the U.S. walk scene. In 1990 he broke into the top 10 rankings for the U.S. at 20K and since 1992 he has held onto the number one spot. When James decided to finally give the 50km walk a try back in 1994, he went after the 31 miles-plus in a big way. Speeding up over the second half of the Palo Alto, California, race, James clocked 3:55:39, taking more than a minute off the American record that had been set by Marco Evoniuk six years earlier.
With that, hopes for U.S. walking got a rise. James followed with national titles at both Olympic distances: 20K and 50K. In 1995, he broke the four-hour barrier again with his 3:59:27 for sixth at the Pan-Am Games.
They say, some like it hot and so did James, America's most dominant race walker in the '90's, he spent several years training to compete at his best in the 50km walk in the searing heat of Atlanta. He won the Trials in the fastest U.S. time of the year. Then, on August 2, in Atlanta, the heat lifted.
Hoping for a hot day, they got an unusually cool day. The race was very fast race and James was prepared for a battle in the heat. James finished 24th in 4:01:18, a solid performance, but wished he could do better. Shortly after James went into "semi-retirement". James now considers walking a hobby that helps keep him in shape. His so-called retirement includes more Millrose Games titles and several fine finishes at National Championship races and the Penn Relays. Training as time allows, James averages less than 30 miles per week.
James works for Toth’s Sports, a sporting goods company that specializes in scoreboards, sports equipment and team uniforms. He and his wife, Laura, have three children, Teisha, Denae and Axel. He is getting older every day. ;)