Two Hours: The Quest to Run the Impossible Marathon Paperback – 7 Apr 2016
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We are getting so close to the mark now... superb (Dan Jones Evening Standard)
Ed Caesar's treatment of the near-mythical two-hour marathon is both implacably scientific and wonderfully reverential. As a former marathoner I deeply appreciate both. The prose hums along effortlessly and the topic is one of the most profound there is: the absolute limits of human performance. Reading a book that combines those two things is one of the great pleasures in life (Sebastian Junger)
A fascinating insight into the clockwork of what it means to be an elite athlete, always pushing at the edge of possibility. Like a good runner, Caesar carries the story along with grace and ease and generosity. He brings us to Kenya, New York, London, and Berlin, but ultimately allows us to look inside ourselves. It's the human story that shines through (Colum McCann)
I didn't think any book could make me interested in marathon running. Two Hours did that and much more. Ed Caesar's in-depth reporting explores one of sport's ultimate questions: is there a final human boundary and, if so, where? A terrific book: elegant, engaging and rewarding (Ed Smith, former England cricketer, Times Columnist and author of Luck)
This book explodes out of the blocks, continues at a terrific clip, never flags and breasts the tape victorious, its arms in the air. Like the best foot race, it is tight, pacy and riveting. A brilliant debut. Give the man a medal and a bunch of flowers (Esquire)
Lyrical and passionate... a celebration of the human spirit and what it can achieve (Observer)
A delight to read. The definitive book on professional marathon running (Independent on Sunday)
Marvellous. Caesar's reportage has the feel of the very best of American journalism - as if he has researched the matter to hell, spent his time in the field, nailed down every fact, then bashed it out on a typewriter with a cigarette smouldering in his mouth (Sunday Times)
Two Hours is a kind of "Hoop Dreams" for runners (Spectator)
Fascinating, timely, meticulously researched... this exploration of one of the great sporting quests of modern times will inspire anyone with a pair of trainers to go for a run (Observer)
Caesar is very good on the personalities, mixing the art and science of distance running with vignettes about the athletes (Matthew Syed The Times)
A fine, engaging study of human endurance and the competitive spirit of marathon runners. Caesar wears his considerable research into most aspects of the marathon - its history, science, and the spectre of performance-enhancing drugs - with a loping, easy style (Independent)
Fascinating. Will be enjoyed by anyone who has completed long runs along canals, through parks and down suburban streets (Daily Telegraph)
Zippy, engaging, stylish, evocative (Financial Times)
There is much spirit in Two Hours and much human warmth (New Statesman)
Two Hours breaks new ground (Economist)
Intelligent, thoughtful (Irish Times)
Caesar has established himself as perhaps the best new long-form magazine writer since the arrival of John Jeremiah Sullivan (Richard Williams Guardian)
From the Back Cover
'Two Hours explodes out of the blocks, continues at a terrific clip, never flags and breasts the tape victorious, its arms in the air. Like the best foot races, it is tight, pacy and riveting. Like the best stories, it is about an apparently impossible journey. Give the man a medal' Esquire
'A delight to read. The definitive book on professional marathon running' Independent on Sunday
'Ed Caesar's reportage has the feel of the very best of American journalism - as if he has researched the matter to hell, spent his time in the field, nailed down every fact, then bashed it out on a typewriter with a cigarette smouldering in his mouth' Sunday Times
'Beautiful' New York Times
'Two Hours is a kind of "Hoop Dreams" for runners' Spectator
'I didn't think any book could make me interested in marathon running. Two Hours did that and much more. Ed Caesar's in-depth reporting explores one of sport's ultimate questions: is there a final human boundary and, if so, where? A terrific book: elegant, engaging and rewarding' Ed Smith, former England cricketer and author of LuckSee all Product description
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Top customer reviews
I have two minor criticisms with this book, which prevent me from giving it five stars. One is perhaps rather childish - it is about the following phrase:
"In the first Olympic marathon, in 1896, only the Greek winner, Spyridon Louis, broke three hours. Now any club runner worth his salt can run faster."
I know that this is the book about the marathon elite and from the elite point of view the 3-hours marathon represents a snail pace, but I dislike this statement nevertheless. Especially considering that Ed Caesar does not mention his own marathon PB :)
Secondly all the talk about the reasons why the Kenyan runners are superior seem to diminish their achievements. With superior genetics and running-favouring conditions they are in a league of their own. Nobody denies them hard work and grit, but all these natural gifts make it more difficult to relate to them as book characters.
I'm not a marathon runner, or even much of a runner at all. I go out jogging occasionally for the sake of fitness, can manage 5k with no problems and could probably drag myself round a 10k course without too much difficulty in about an hour. A marathon, or even half a one, is most likely way beyond my abilities though.
This is a fascinating story of how marathon times have been creeping slowly down towards the magical 2 hour mark, the people involved in this, and the science behind it all. Given how close to 2 hours the current record is, it seems only a matter of time before a sub-2 hour marathon is acieved, but thanks to this book I have some idea of just how much effort is required to even shave a second or two off the record, so precisely when it happens is not clear. Could be tomorrow or in several years. Perhaps a new training method will decide it, or perhaps it will be a leap in shoe technology that helps.
If you're a runner, I am certain you will like this book. If you're a non-runner, it stands just fine as an interesting, well-researched and presented piece of journalism. I recommend it either way.
On a personal note, I found the fact that people can achieve what they do highly motivating in my own life.
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Most recent customer reviews
It started ok but very quickly ran out of steam. I had the impression the author lost interest.Read more
You can leave the book, it is very very very irritating
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