Russell, from Staffordshire, won the British AAA Championships in steeplechase from 1904 to 1906. He won his first AAA title while only 17 years old.
At the LondonOlympics, Russell competed in the 3,200 metres steeplechase. In the first round, he was one of only two athletes in his heat to finish, easily defeating the other runner. Russell made the pace in the final for the first mile. Afterwards Russell and AmericanJohn Eisele fought for the lead until the bell, when Briton Archie Robertson passed Eisele and was only beaten by two yards by Russell, with Eisele 25 yards (23 m) behind.
Russell was a Walsall brick worker who ran for Walsall Harriers. His gold medal is extremely rare as it is made of solid gold and this was the only time that the 3200 yard event was held.