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on 11 August 1999
this book is the best book i've ever read about running. This books truly digs in to a runner's spirit and reveals it to the world. definitely a classic that shouldn't be missed by any running afficionado.
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on 8 July 1999
Once a runner is the most inspirational book about running that I have ever read. Currently I am on a Track and Cross Country team. This book totally helped me take my training up to the next level.
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on 7 October 1996
Want to know what makes a runner tick?
Read this'll be forever
changed. It describes a fictitious collegiate
track program with some very colorful
characters. Their tales and traumas
boil down the essence of running.
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on 28 September 2012
This book is like a marathon in reverse. It starts off weak and is quite painful to get through at times, but improves leading to a strong denouement (which is quite thrilling). In essence therefore it gets 2/3 stars for the first half and 4/5 for the latter. My overall rating reflects the fact that I am runner - my feeling being that if you aren't a runner you probably will come away feeling less than enthused about it.

The story follows a university student (Quenton Cassidy) and his running team mates through a period of heavy training during which they are embroiled in a sporting controversy which leads to Cassidy being sidelined on the track just when the world mile record holder is going to be competing at a local meet. Can he get himself readmitted onto the track and if not will he miss this date with destiny? Sorry for being a little vague here- but I think giving away too much of the plot will ruin the story.

The story is sold in certain quarters at "part training manual...religious story," so let me say at this juncture that if you want a training manual read 'The Lore of Running', if you want a religious tract try an actual Holy Text; as for love story...I'm not sure that a character actually explicitly expresses love or ardour at any point in the book! It's all about running...and if you like running you will probably enjoy it.

But it does have quite a few weaknesses. The central characters are very weakly pencilled in and I found it hard to sympathise with Cassidy for much of the book- we don't learn about his background and near death experience until we are almost 3/4 of the way through the book. As a a result its hard to really care about what happens to him. Similarly his budding romance is so vaguely dealt with that when he breaks up with his girlfriend you almost don't know it has happened. A lot of the language in other parts is also so abstract and abstruse that you struggle to figure out what characters are really getting at.

Certainly the book has its quirky and laugh out loud funny bits, and I think that there is a certain Catch-22 feeling about some of the absurd and pompous characters that inhabit the pages.

When I got to the end, I realised that there was a sequel and read the excerpts (2 chapters) supplied and found that it seemed to be better written than the original and so will probably go ahead and read it.

Is this, as the cover says, "the best novel ever written about running"?- well it's hard to say given its the only novel about running that I have read- but its certainly one I wont forget and may even read again after an interval.
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on 16 July 1999
Simply a great book. Nothing comes closer to explaining what it is like to run on a college team. I have read it at least 4 times and loved it every time.
John Parker has outdone all others when it comes to writing about running. I only wish it were longer!
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on 10 April 1998
Parker lived and trained with Frank Shorter and Jack Bacheler and the other Florida Track Club greats of the early '70s. He captures that atmosphere perfectly. Bruce Denton is Bacheler, Kernsville is Gainesville, Dick Doobey is Doug Dickey, and Quenton Cassidy is... the author - in his dreams, or aspirations. Even better, his dreams become yours. I don't know any serious runner who doesn't love this book. It's at least 20 years old - ignore that 1987 publishing date, Parker self-published it earlier - and it still holds true, absolutely.
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on 5 January 2014
I found the book a hard read - owing to the almost impregnable language represented as used by American college kids in the '70s. But what really put me off were some of the metaphors: 'Her neck smelled like a parakeet's tummy.' I'm unsure how that is supposed to assist the reader in obtaining a clearer understanding of how his girlfriend smelled.
I gave up at page 142 and the book now resides in a charity shop along with the sequel 'Again To Carthage' which I - unfortunately - purchased at the same time.
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on 18 November 2013
......boring, tedious at the start, get to half way and check the watch knowing that you will have to start digging in soon, three quarters of the way through and things start to flow because of the slow start, digging in near the end as things get interesting and crossing the line in relief..... If you think that's how a marathon goes then you can read the same for this book.

I'm a runner and there was only 1 chapter about training that had me gripped, I simply don't understand where the rave reviews come from as I simply found it dull and boring at times but with just enough to keep me reading. There are snippets of humor and times when you dive into the mind of someone that puts everything on the line, but then just as it gets going it drops a mile at easy pace to keep you from going out too fast.

My wife picked it up and tried to read it too, she isnt a runner but has read my running books like "Running with the Kenyans" and "Born to Run" and enjoyed them, this one she put down after 50 pages.

Shame really
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on 3 October 2012
As a keen mid pack marathon runner I had such high hopes for this book after reading the excellent reviews here and on Even from the first page you can tell how the book is going to pan out "the joggers were out again on the track". It's hard to take the book seriously as it's written in old American slang, think of the character Boss Hog from the 1980's TV show "Dukes of Hazard" Sentences like "horn gawn darnit" regularly pop up as do sentances like "the high jumpers were out practicing at 3am just for kicks those boys sure were crazy all right!"I suppose if the reader had actually gone to a University in Florida in the 1970's and was a semi-Elite/Elite runner then it would be an interesting read. There are so many excellent running books out there, it's a shame that this is not one of them.
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on 13 December 2015
There are phases of this which are good, some of the humour, some of the running and training descriptions. I'm quite a keen runner - albeit not to the standard and dedication of our hero - and maybe it is the best novel about running, but I'm not sure it has much competition. Overall was it worth buying - yes, probably only for its writing on and about running - as for characterisation and plots, well it's all a bit basic and schoolboy, but there again I know myself that in order to get better as a runner you have to focus on repetition, round and round the track for speed, out on road and track mile after mile for stamina - not sure the contents of any runner's brain or life (real or fiction) is that interesting when they're in the grip of a serious training cycle.....
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