Friday, September 3, 2010

The Reading Part

Reading is, after all, the first on the list in the blog title. I'm thinking of a list of great running books. Here are a few. Others?

Once a Runner, by John L. Parker Jr. Spencer lent me this, and I proceeded to buy two copies -- one for home and one for the office. It's a fabulous book that follows the exploits of the mythical Quentin Cassidy as he trains and runs a remarkable mile.

The Perfect Mile, by Neal Bascomb. A detailed account of the years 1952-54, when Roger Bannister, John Landy and Wes Santee fought to be the first to run sub-4:00, and then, after both had achieved the mark, Bannister raced Landy in the Empire Games in Vancouver. Remarkable, and if you read it, tell me if the Empire Games mile doesn't parallel Cassidy's race with John Walton at the end of Once a Runner.

Duel in the Sun, by John Brant. This follows Alberto Salazar and Dick Beardsley in the 1982 Boston Marathon, and for the decades following as each dealt with his own demons. A great book, but I could have used more racing, less, well, not racing. Does anybody know if that race is available on video?


  1. How can you omit "Born to Run" which you lent me?

  2. It is a glaring omission. Born to Run describes the ultrarunning world and makes it nearly as exciting as Cassiday's mile. I've been enjoying watching that world a little after reading the book -- mostly through my subscription to Ultrarunner magazine -- and it's fascinating. That's a sport that is becoming more mature, which means that records are being broken on a whim and new heros come along every couple of years. Maybe like baseball in the 50s, marathoning in the 70s or basketball in the 80s. In Born to Run McDougall follows Ann Trason and Scott Jurek (as well as, of course, Arnulfo Quimare, but he's not known, outside of the book, to a world audience). The current man of steel in the ultrarunning world is Goeff Roes. Roes has never been defeated at the 100 mile distance and sets a record in most races he runs. Until recently it was possible to suggest he didn't run the great races, but he just won the Western States 100 -- the grand-daddy of U.S. ultras -- in record time.