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A Race Like No Other: 26.2 Miles Through the Streets of New York Paperback – 1 Oct 2009


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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (1 Oct. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061373141
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061373145
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.1 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 452,403 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

“Robbins, a sportswriter for The New York Times, has packed her book with scrumptious details…If the written word still has any force, then this book could take on talismanic power, like the medal or the Mylar cape that every finisher receives.” (New York Times Book Review)

“Robbins’s absorbing book...finds its stride....A Race Like No Other gets closer to this marathon than an avenue railbird, and it leaves impressions not fleeting, but lasting.” (Sports Illustrated)

“I found this fabulous history of the New York City Marathon fascinating because Robbins brings to life the incredible pressures runners are under, as well as explaining their training methods and introducing us to their intense rivalries and friendships….Whether you’re a runner or a couch potato, this will make you at the very least want to watch the marathon, armed with a sense of what each and every mile means to the thousands of competitors who run them.” (Penthouse)

“This book brings the race alive, detailing the running of the 2007 Marathon through the stories of the runners themselves...You won’t stop reading ‘til they’ve crossed the finish line.” (Best Health Magazine)

“Robbins, who covers sports for the New York Times, offers a vivid, winning portrait of the New York City Marathon, now the largest in the world with nearly 40,000 participants. Taking the 2007 race mile by mile, Robbins profiles each of the principal elite runners, including their training regimens and personal stories; describes each mile’s particular features; limns a large cast of supporting characters, from an aid-station volunteer to a gospel choir that performs inspirational music for the marathoners on the eighth mile; and gives an good overview of how the event is organized. Along the way, Robbins conveys an intimate sense of the physical demands the race places on the body, all the while building suspense-though we know the winners-that’s the equal of a good action movie. A quality piece of journalism from start to finish.”” (Booklist (starred review))

“If you can’t make the trek from Fort Wadsworth to Central Park, and can’t get there to watch it in person, this new account of the world’s biggest marathon is the next best source of inspiration.” (The Advocate)

“An engrossing, edifying and moving chronicle of a day in the life of the marathon and its participants.…[Robbins] is a master of her craft: she deftly combines historical fact with creative interpretation, statistics and time-splits with detailed description….A Race Like No Other is a satisfying read for many reasons, not least because Robbins’ writing is fluid and engaging, and she offers an unprecedented inside look at the storied event.” (BookPage)

“Whether you have run the New York City Marathon or not, or even any marathon, you will likely be inspired and encouraged by the stories in A Race Like No Other.” (Boulder Daily Camera)

“Lace up your sneakers and take a run like no other. Liz Robbins has written a poignant, fast-paced profile of a world-class event that is more than just a sports story. It’s a rare view behind the city scenes and an inspirational look into the souls of athletes – from the pros to the plodders – revealing why they are so driven and yet so human. A heart-pounding read from start to finish.” (Jeremy Schaap, New York Times bestselling author of Cinderella Man and Triumph)

“Lace up your sneakers and take a run like no other. Liz Robbins has written a poignant, fast-paced profile of a world-class event that is more than just a sports story. It’s a rare view behind the city scenes and an inspirational look into the souls of athletes – from the pros to the plodders – revealing why they are so driven and yet so human. A heart-pounding read from start to finish.” (Sally Jenkins, Washington Post columnist, author of The Real All-Americans and co-author of the New York Times bestselling It's Not About the Bike)

“One of the great pleasures of running the Marathon for me was being among the masses of people. Thousand of personal stories drive runners to compete in New York each year. With the touch of a gifted storyteller, Liz Robbins brings to life the faces in the crowd, and draws the reader right into this amazing race.” (Christine Brennan, USA Today columnist, author of Best Seat in the House)

“One of the great pleasures of running the Marathon for me was being among the masses of people. Thousand of personal stories drive runners to compete in New York each year. With the touch of a gifted storyteller, Liz Robbins brings to life the faces in the crowd, and draws the reader right into this amazing race.” (Grete Waitz, nine-time winner of the New York City Marathon)

“One of the world’s great races finally has its own biography, and it’s as wacky, entertaining, and beguiling as the Big Apple itself. If you had no interest in ‘running New York’ beforehand, this book will definitely change your mind.” (John L. Parker, author of Once a Runner and Again to Carthage)

From the Back Cover

The New York City Marathon: 26.2 grueling miles across five bridges and through five distinct boroughs, accompanied by the cheers of two million fans and propelled by the unique motivation that churns inside every participant.

New York Times reporter Liz Robbins brings the famed New York City Marathon to life, capturing the day's festivities mile by mile. She tells the stories of the determined competitors—from their friendships and rivalries to their adversity and redemption—through the prism of the unforgettable 2007 race. Infused with rich history of the event's legends and its colorful neighborhood characters, A Race Like No Other provides a curbside seat to the first Sunday in November, breathlessly carrying the reader from the start on the towering Verrazano-Narrows Bridge to the triumphant finish line in Central Park.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Started the book avidly as I was due to run the NY marathon and it promised to be informative and interesting, then lost momentum due to the marathon being cancelled. I'm sure it'll be great when I can bring myself to pick it up again though.
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By James O. Brien on 8 Nov. 2012
Format: Paperback
Good insight into this race, personal stories make it easily read and very interesting. Well written. Worth a read if like myself you'd have an ambition to test yourself at this famous event.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 30 reviews
17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
EVERYONE'S A WINNER 11 Oct. 2008
By Tucker Andersen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I loved this book! Liz Robbins' narrative chronicles the 2007 NYC Marathon with fact and anecdote filled chapters for each mile as the runners travel through all five boroughs of NYC and over the finish line; she does indeed manages to transport you inside the race and capture the sprit of the event that makes it A RACE LIKE NO OTHER. Perhaps it will even inspire some of the many readers that this book deserves who believe that the challenge of completing a marathon is too daunting to change minds and undertake the training required to attempt running one. It certainly will delight those who have participated and inform the millions who as spectators have cheered on the runners along the course or watched it on television in their living rooms.

Before I proceed further with my enthusiastic review, I do need to offer a disclaimer. At the suggestion of the race organizers, I was one of the myriad of individuals who the author interviewed during her extensive research for this book. I am an individual who had no exhibited no previous athletic aptitude before starting to exercise after passing my thirtieth birthday during the 1970's. But my current reputation as a 65 year old streaker intrigued her, and she chronicles part of my journey as I complete this event for the 32nd consecutive year. Thus, my story is one of the many of those of us who revel in our chance to become athletes for a day. In fact, as you will learn if you read the book, she somehow managed to locate me as I was running up First Avenue in the middle of the pack long after she had observed the winners crossing the finish line in Central Park and, after being introduced to a friend who I made during the race, the three of us ran together for approximately a mile as she joined the race again to discover more stories among the anonymous throng which would still be on the course for hours. I believe that my knowledge of the race enables me to appreciate even more the excellent job that the author has done, but I felt it appropriate to inform the readers of this review of what some might view as a source of potential favorable bias.

Robbins skillfully weaves into her manuscript the duel between Gete Wami and Paula Radcliffe which of course captivated even the casual observers of the race, while also managing to humanize them through the inclusion of a wealth of interesting information about aspects of their lives as diverse as their training routines, previous competitive encounters, early family experiences, and the fact that they are united by the bond that both women have returned to the sport at the highest competitive level after bearing a child. The stories of the leading competitors among the men are covered in an equally interesting manner, with many fascinating insights provided. Similarly, readers will appreciate the coverage of celebrities such as Lance Armstrong and Katie Holmes.

The many anecdotes about Fred Lebow which Liz Robbins inserts throughout the book together form a wonderful picture of the individual whose passion for the sport and ceaseless promotion of the marathon helped transform it from a race for elite runners who circled Central Park slightly more than four times to the spectacle which reinforced the running explosion which was just beginning in the mid-1970's. But for me, by far the most interesting aspect of the book was how she managed to meld the interesting stories of many individual runners into a mosaic that captured the essence of the experience. Included among these stories are many of the Achilles Club runners, whose members' disabilities cover a wide spectrum which range from the blind runners tethered loosely to their guides to amputees with artificial limbs and several cancer survivors, for whom completing the marathon is a way to celebrate their triumph over the disease. Many of them will spend several more hours on the course than the main field and thus start the race early, as a consequence as the race proceeds many of us runners have the opportunity to share in their inspirational achievements as we run by them and cheer them on in their pursuit of their dreams. Thus, I finally learned that it is 55 year old Bill Reilly whom I see every year along the course determinedly pushing his wheelchair backwards with his feet for 26.2 miles despite his severe cerebral palsy. And that Zoe Koplowitz who I also pass has completed her 20th NYC Marathon the next morning despite her diabetes and multiple sclerosis. Perhaps the most moving of all was the tale of Donald Arthur, a heart transplant victim who started walking to strengthen his new heart and three years later in 1999 completed the marathon together with the brother of his transplant donor (a victim of gunfire in the Bronx) and who then are both embraced by the victim's mother after they cross the finish line. In 2007 Arthur has recovered from a subsequent bout of cancer and is completing his tenth marathon that year. The joy in the streets, the agony and the ecstasy are all captured in this book.

Robbins also does justice to the other crucial elements of the race, the almost countless volunteers, the musicians whose performance adds to the celebratory atmosphere, the millions of supportive spectators (some of whom cheer the runners through the final three miles along Central park for as long as six hours), the unique and memorable landmarks along the race course, such as the towering Verranzano-Narrows Bridge, the Williamsburg Bank clock tower (a landmark visible for several miles along Brooklyn's Fourth Avenue), and the distinct neighborhoods which the runners traverse. We learn the background stories about the Bishop Laughlin High School Band and the Emmanuel Baptist Church choir, whose music only five blocks apart inspires the runners as they run down Lafayette Avenue with five miles still to go before leaving Brooklyn and reaching the halfway point as they cross the Pulaski Bridge and enter Queens.

In summary, if you like inspirational and feel good stories, read this book. If you want to learn more about the NYC marathon, read this book. If you want the unique experience of reading a book which fittingly ends with chapter 26.2, then read this book. We can't all hope to compete at an elite level or duplicate such feats of endurance as Dean Karnazes' running 50 marathons in 50 consecutive days and finishing with the NYC event , but this book captures how the NYC marathon undoubtedly deserves the credit for establishing the tradition of every runner being a winner over their own pain, and feeling deserving of the medal placed around his or her neck at its conclusion in the knowledge that on that day they had done their best as they were cheered on by the millions of spectators who line the route. When Liz Robbins explained the idea for her book while first interviewing me, I was both excited by the concept but fearful of the challenge which she had before her to accurately capture all the facets of the event. Now, I am delighted that she has succeeded, and hope that her book will achieve the readership which it deserves and in the process create even more appreciation for the unique nature of the event. Indeed every year its essence is the same, yet every year the details are different, new friends are made and different sights and sounds assault three runners' sense which are heightened by the inevitable surge of endorphins, which is why I will enjoy it as much this year as what I expected in 1976 would be not only my first but my only run through the streets of NYC, a Bicentennial celebration which not only linked the residents of the city's diverse neighborhoods but changed the face of marathoning. I highly recommend this book; as a reader you will share in the joy in the streets on that special day, and experience the palpable inspiration which results when everyone is a winner and the triumph of the human spirit is so clearly on display. .

Tucker Andersen
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
History, story telling and marathon guidebook all in one! 13 Nov. 2008
By Thomas Howard - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I just returned home from running the NY Marathon. I am so glad that I read this book just before running. It is outstanding. I saw several of the various characters in the book, especially the accordian player in Queens, and felt like I knew him.

I would recommend this book to anyone, runner and non-runner alike. Hugely readable and very informative.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
NYC Marathon 15 Aug. 2010
By J. A. R. Ncp - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I run marathons, along with those in my running club. Of all the books on what happens behind the efforts and determination of the individual runner, this book is so detailed in how a marathon on the magnitude of the the NYC marathon is done, I find it amazing that the author was able to succeed in her script with such success. I now know why it is so difficult to win a lottery position in the NYC - there are only 8,000 positions available for USA citizens (excluding those that are obtained via raising charity funds). If you run any marathons, or are a runner interested in the details of a marathon - this is the book. Along with the details of how the marathon is organized, the author took one race and went behind the scenes of the lives of not only the top runners but the average person: why they are runners, why they wanted to run the NYC. Such a good book, I have read it twice.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Nice little love letter to New York City and its runners 16 Oct. 2009
By Jason A. Miller - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I'm never going to run the NYC Marathon, or any other flatter, "easier" marathons, for that matter. Every time I run around the Central Park Reservoir I'm routinely lapped by training groups from the New York Road Runners. However, I've always had tremendous respect for those who have what it takes to complete a marathon (or twelve). Although it may not pass muster for those who compete, "A Race Like No Other", Liz Robbins' start-to-finish examination of the 2007 NYC Marathon. held my interest & taught me a lot that I didn't know.

Robbins' book makes the argument that the NYC Marathon is the gold standard of the competitive running circuit. Due to its uneven terrain and sharp turns, world records are never going to be set here. However, by pacing her book mile by mile -- there are 26 chapters -- she has the opportunity to showcase not only the main story of the race (who wins the men's & women's titles) but also the disparate New York City neighborhoods in all five boroughs, as well as the supporting personalities that makes the marathon tick. That includes not only the "name" runners, but also the driven amateurs with their own stories to tell, the celebrities who run, the support personnel, and the natives who cheer (and perform music) from the sidelines. New York in all its diverse, multi-ethnic glory, and corresponding insularity, is on full display.

Again, as a non-expert I'm in no position to tell if Robbins' made any silly mistakes or forgot to balance out a story. However, as a native New Yorker who likes to run (badly), I found this book quite inspirational.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Great book 17 Dec. 2008
By R. Inaba - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
If you like running and human interest stories, you will enjoy this book. Very good writing and subject matter about the 2007 New York Marathon with every chapter representing a mile in the race. Liz Robbins writes for the New York Times, which is a paper that is known for great writers. The book details every mile of the run plus interesting and heart felt stories about the organizers, the professional runners and the everyday runners doing it for their own reasons. Definitely a book you will enjoy.
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