Many factors led to Smith becoming the runner that he is. He was born into the working class and has seen honest men suffer. He has also seen the corruption of the higher classes. This exposure to the harsh realities of the world contributes to Smith's desire to run and his feeling of escapism when he runs. Accordingly, Smith runs due to his dislike of the governor, his environment at the prison school, his opposition towards the upper class, and his family life as a young child. .
Smith is running because he wants to disappoint the governor who wants him to win the cross-country competition because Smith thinks the man dishonest. The governor promises Smith that if he abides by the rules, runs, and wins the competition, then his life will be made easier and proper arrangements for professional athlete training will be made. The governor says, "get that cup for us today and I'll do all I can for you. I'll get you trained so that you can whack every free man in the world." The governor's apparent benevolent behaviour toward Smith is masking his true selfish intention. If the governor is able to change Smith into a law-abiding cross-country athlete, he will get acclamation for that and may receive a knighthood. Smith is not oblivious to this fact and despises the elected official for being dishonest about his intentions. Smith also knows he is the governor's only hope to win the competition. Smith says, "the stupid trash-twitching bastard has all his hopes on me." Smith's statement shows us that he despises the governor. Moreover, Smith's hatred has grown so much that he wants to destroy the governor and the Borstal. Smith says, "in the end governor is going to be doomed while blokes like me will take the pickings of his roasted bones and dance like a maniac around his Borstal ruins." His rebellious statement proves how desperate he is to get back at the governor.