ONCE A RUNNER IS AN INSPIRING, FUNNY, AND SPOT-ON TALE of one man's quest to become a champion. Originally self-published in 1978 and sold at road races out of the trunk of the author's car, the book eventually found its way into the hands of high school, college, and postgraduate athletes all over the country. Reading it became a rite of passage on many teams and tattered copies were handed down like sacred texts from generation to generation. Once a Runner captures the essence of what it means to be a competitive runner, to devote your entire existence to a single-minded pursuit of excellence. In doing so, it has become one of the most beloved sports novels ever published.
If I wasn't already a runner, I think this book would have motivated me to get out and give it a go. Since I already am, it re-affirms the drive to pound the pavement and makes me want to get out and do it even more (though for me it is cross-country). It really captures the essence of what makes a runner want to run and their thinking during training. The closest thing I could compare it to in that respect is the movie Chariots of Fire, which got me moving in the first place.
There have been so many reviews of this novel that I doubt that I can add anything new. Just let me add my praise for Parker's efforts here, and my thanks to Scribner for releasing this new hardcover edition. I've done my share of track meets back in school. I even competed in my high-school's Panther run relay, where a team of 10 runs a mile each for 24 hours and depending on how fast the team was, could end up running more than 24 miles each come the final whistle. Some of us even made it to the end. :) I mention this because it is that competitive spirit and drive for excellence that Parker captures so well.
Non-runners may have a more difficult time getting into the story and as pointed out in other reviews, some may be put off by what they perceive as an elitist vibe. If asked if this is great literature I would have to say no. Ironically I feel parts of it could have been better paced. Where some find it timeless, others will find it dated. But I have no problem recommending it to anyone who is open to experiencing what the lead character (Quentin) went through in his quest for that ultimate 4-minute mile.
My only regret is that I didn't find this book sooner! As a former high school middle distance runner, I found this novel impossible to put down. I think anyone would enjoy the story, but for runners this is a true classic. Its great that it is back in print.
In a field, far deprived from human contact, Quenton Cassidy and Bruce Denton clip off sixty-second quarters in preparation for the inevitable dance with fate - the ever, elusive four-minute mile. In Once a Runner, John L. Parker, Jr. masterfully captures the collegiate running experience while following his main character Quenton Cassidy.
The research behind this novel is right on the mark. The famed Millrose Games, with its long, rich history is best known for its Wanamaker Mile. John captures the allure of this event, and other great events like the Drake Relays with excitement and passion. Southeastern University is the home to its greatest athletes that are full of college politics, back history, athletes that have Olympic and World hopes and some drama.
Rolling through campus, bobbing and weaving through campus students, Quenton Cassidy and his merry gents feel the wind in there faces, and the ground beneath them. I listened to this book in the car and I found myself lost in my childhood. As a kid, I grew up running with a local track club and then eventually in high school. I remember how it made me feel. I remember the joy of the wind in my face and the rolling hills of a single-track trail winding through a wooded forest. I detested the intervals much like the characters in this book; however, nonetheless this book is a must read for anyone who loves running.
After reading this book, you will want to hit the trails or streets for some exercise - that alone is inspiring.
This book fictionalizes the struggles and discipline required to be a competitive runner. I would say, however, that this book is written more for the athlete looking for a good read, than for the literary type looking for a good read. In my opinion, Parker's sentences did not exude intensity, and his plot started slowly. (I was able to finish only 50 pages.) Perhaps my sentiment exists because I had just finished reading another, far superior, book about running, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (Vintage International). If you're a runner, or, better yet, a competitive college runner, you might relate to John Parker's main character here and enjoy this book; nevertheless, I recommend Murakami's book to everyone.
I read Once a Runner is one of the first fiction running novels I have read. I am a freshman in high school who is a dedicated cross country runner. Though I am young and have little experience this book says it all. As another review stated this book can apply to anybody: the competitive athlete, athlete, or non-athlete.
As stated above, this book applies to and has a message for everybody. John L. Parker was an experienced runner who obviously knew what he was talking about. Once a Runner takes you through the continuous and competitive season of a college runner, Quenton Cassidy.
Through the long summer days and wicked winter evenings, Parker explains the truth about running; also about life. Some parts of the book dragged on for awhile and other parts seem to be irrelevant but as the story unfolds each detailed piece of information is important. As John L. Parker thoroughly explains the lessons of a runner he also explains one main message about life; to find meaning in a person's interests will help a person find meaning in life. To believe in anything but more importantly to believe in yourself will help in the long run.
The obvious goal of Parker was to explain in detail the life of a serious runner. Parker achieved that goal and Once a Runner is easily the greatest book ever written about running. Achieving that goal has inspired many to not necessarily run, but to take pride in something, to have faith in people and to believe in and trust themselves. To many this may not make sense, but after finishing Once a Runner the reader will not be disappointed. I recommend this book to everybody and I truly believe no one will be let down.
|Book:||Once A Runner: A Novel|
|Author:||John L Parker|
|Number of Pages:||272|
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