Hal Higdon has based this books on what a number of runners put on to social media in response to running or volunteering at the Boston marathon 2013. I knew one of those people which is why I bought the book. The book does give you a good picture of what this day was like for the people there. One of the difficulties with the book is that it is written for those already in the know about running, who would be interested in and understanding of the normal trials and tribulations of a marathon runner. Not sure it will work if you are a non runner simply interested in understanding the tragic happening of this day. It is also clearly (though understandably) aimed at the US market, explaining British runner tech speak for the Americans but not vice versa. Despite all this I would recommend it as it does give you a flavour of what it was like for the athletes and organisers to have their event turn into a tragedy.
Hal Higdon, a runner, prolific author/journalist, and contributing editor at “Runners World”has published 4:09:03, the first book on the 2013 bombings at the 117th running of Boston’s revered Marathon. Surely a day, and an event, bound to live in memory of all those who experienced it, whether in person, or through the universal eye of television news. (The odd title of the book is a reference to the finishing-line clock time when the first bomb exploded.)
In 4:09:43, Higdon views Boston 2013 through the eyes of those who ran the race: in what may be a first, he used social media, based upon his popular Facebook page, to write it, eventually corresponding with nearly 75 runners, volunteers and observers who were there. They gave him stories that were very similar in outcome, of course, but very different in detail, all ending with the bombs on Boylston Street.
The author has condensed and integrated them into a smooth-flowing narrative. It begins with runners checking into their hotels, hanging out and chilling, loading up on carbs, boarding the buses at Boston Common, waiting at the Athletes’ Village in Hopkinton, and running through eight separate towns, climbing Newton’s hills, sure tests of those inexperienced at the Boston Marathon. Until the 23,000 athletes reach Boylston Street. Higdon has said, “These are not 75 separate stories. This is one story told as it might have been by a single runner with 75 pairs of eyes.”
Higdon has written ON THE RUN FROM DOGS AND PEOPLE; a coffee table book called BOSTON: A CENTURY OF RUNNING; THE DUEL, featuring the 1982 battle of Alberto Salazar and Dick Beardsley and the quarter-million selling MARATHON: THE ULTIMATE TRAINING GUIDE.
I liked this book very much, but feel the writer should have made an effort to include the testimony of some of the numerous runners who were wounded that day. He has not. There is no testimony from the injured. I also wish the book had been better copyedited: in its opening pages, the author tells us over and over that Boston is a great and historic city; that its historic marathon is beloved and revered by runners, and that the race of 2013 was the 117th. Perhaps an expanded and better copyedited 2nd edition? Still, the 1st is worth reading.
to a truly horrid event. No one expects a tragedy to strike and what happened in Boston needed telling. What could have been an easily over-sensationalized book, is covered in a humanistic and appropriate way. the utilization of social media to pull in so many view points is clever and perhaps a great example how social media can be used in a new way to tell a story. Despite the structure of the book from multiple people, it is a very easy read - I read it straight in one sitting, cover to cover. The first hand experiences of so many people who were there gives a unique emotional window in to the devastation.