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Duel in the Sun: Alberto Salazar, Dick Beardsley, and America's Greatest Marathon

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  1,093 ratings  ·  93 reviews
The 1982 Boston Marathon was great theater: Two American runners, Alberto Salazar, a celebrated champion, and Dick Beardsley, a gutsy underdog, going at each other for just under 2 hours and 9 minutes. Neither man broke. The race merely came to a thrilling, shattering end, exacting such an enormous toll that neither man ever ran as well again. Beardsley, the most innocent ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published March 6th 2007 by Rodale Books (first published February 21st 2006)
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Brian Walker
I started off not liking this book. The writing was choppy, back and forth between different story lines, and the characters themselves (Salazar and Beardsley) were not likable in the way that John Brant was portraying them. The fierce competition and obsessive nature of the sport made them almost pathetic when they reached the level in their careers that they couldn't improve on their times and finishing positions. I felt embarrassingly sorry for them. The motiff of their shadows always being b ...more
This is the story of probably the most epic marathon of all time, Boston 1982. It is also a biography of the two frontrunners, Alberto Salazar and Dick Beardsley - their backgrounds, what motivated them, what they did afterward. As a runner, it's fascinating to read about what compels these people to race THAT HARD and how it affects them, and it's fascinating, for me at least, to read about the mysteries of sports injuries. But it's a character story as much as a race report, one that's simulta ...more
Flora Berklein
As I often find to be the case with sports books, at first I thought this book to be poorly written, overwritten/cliched at parts. In the end I guess I stopped noticing that though. Quick read and enjoyable. Honestly I could imagine some who isn't into running liking this book since it wasn't just about the race, or even mostly about the race, but about the long-term effects of the one race on both their lives. Since ~65% of my waking thoughts have to do with running maybe I am not in a position ...more
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Very good "running" book that was actually three stories in one. Two of the threads were the personal biographies of U.S. Marathoners Alberto Salazar and Dick Beardsley. Each of these guys had some pretty impactful events in their lives outside of their running. The author then wove the two biographies together by interspersing the story of the 1982 Boston Marathon in which these men finished 1-2 and is considered probably the "best" Boston Marathon in its long, long history. Definitely a great ...more
I read this years ago but decided to reread in wake of recent doping allegations about Salazar's proteges in Nike Oregon Project. Recap of the incredible 1982 Boston Marathon won by Salazar by 2 seconds over Beardsley, interspersed with back story on each and [especially] the difficult times each had afterward. Particularly moving account of Beardsley's struggles with opiate addiction, which started with pain medication he got in the wake of a terrible farming accident.

A side benefit is the oppo
Enni Gregas
#22 on my 52 in 52 Quest: Another account of the epic 1982 Boston Marathon. This one takes the reader into the back story of both Beardsley and Salazar--the "duelers." I learned even more about the motivation, training, and experience of elite distance runners---they truly inhabit a rarefied world.

Salazar and Beardsley are cultural and personality opposites which makes the story even more intriguing. I appreciate the flashbacks into their lives leading up to this momentous race and the follow th
Mar 24, 2010 Henrita rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: my marathoning friends
I remember watching this race or at least being aware of it as a kid with a marathon-running dad. Now that I run marathons this book gives me a whole new appreciation for the sport and just how far it has come in 30 years. A marathon can be life-changing and this book shows that in an amazing and compelling read.
For anyone who has ever dreamed of or completed a marathon...with some great insight into what goes ON in the heads of elite athletes during a race. This made me want to run Boston and meet both Dick Beardsley and Alberto Salazar, who regularly give speeches based on the events described in the book.
David Lysenko
This is a great read, especially if you like running! The author does a tremendous job of mixing in pre and post race lives of both runners. It really helped me to connect with them and this great race.
Life doesn't begin and end with marathon glory. The gripping passages about the "duel in the sun" are eclipsed by the personal stories of two great American champions. A great read.
Kelli Stephenson
Anyone who has run a marathon would appreciate this book and what happened to the two runners.
Good historical look @ one of the closest and more controversial Boston finishes.
Jeremy Costello
This book was very well done. Reading a two hundred page book about 26.2 miles sounds boring, but it wasn't just about the race, but about the incredible sacrifice the two competitors made to stay in contention. The toll the race took on their careers and their subsequent demise coincided with the collapse of American distance running as a whole. As big contracts and professional running increased, the innocent, carefree era of citizen runners ended, and a business took their place. Small chapte ...more
I read this book to learn more about the race at the 1982 Boston Marathon between Salazar and Beardsley and to get some inspiration for running my own marathon in a few weeks. Unfortunately this author couldn't tell the story coherently and there wasn't much in the way of inspiration. The main problem is that he tried to write three different stories and he didn't organize them very well. The chapters alternate between a description of the marathon and each man's personal story. But the personal ...more
This book is about the epic duel in the sun between Beardsley and Salazar (two titans of the marathon and first running boom in the States).

There are three concurrent story lines in this book: Beardsley's life, Salazar's life, and the marathon itself. It is revealed early on that Salazar, who was already a renowned distance runner in the late 1970s and early '80's, was the favorite to win Boston. Beardsley, described as a small-town farmboy, is clearly the underdog. But as the race progresses an
A very dramatic and exciting tale of two very dramatic lives and how they battled for a little over two hours one day in Boston. Instead of just telling the whole thing chronologically, the book cuts between the actual race between the two men, to how they suffered in years afterward, to brief biographies of them. I think this approach works very well. It could make a great movie....
Dec 26, 2010 Frances rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Frances by: Vin, and then Alan
Story of the 1982 Boston Marathon and the epic battle between Alberto Salazar and Dick Beardsley and the challenges both men faced in the aftermath. An absolutely amazing story of running and competition. It is hard for me to imagine the drive that caused them to push so hard.

There were many running anecdotes that I loved, but one that seemed especially striking (although I have read this before in other places as well) is that in 1982, 135 people (most of them Americans) ran Boston in less than
Diane Supinski
This is not just a book for runners or about runners. Instead it is a brief insight into the lives of two very human men who just happened to run what most people consider the most exciting Boston Marathon ever. What I loved about this book is that it really did delve into what both were experiencing in that race. Both Dick Beardsley and Alberto Salazar left everything they had on that course. How many of us can say that about the races we've run, or about how we approach different things in lif ...more
Kelly O'Mara
I was skeptical about this book - despite the fact that everyone raves about it. I mean how much is there to say about one marathon? But, it does an amazing job of making stories out of their lives and tying it all together and tying it to the marathon/the run. Highly recommend.
Rachel Ross
I really enjoyed this, in part because I love racing marathons and in part because I stink at history and didn't know how it would end. It was a well-told story. 4 stars, not 5 because I skipped some pages that droned on too long about Alberto's Catholicism.
I'm running Boston for the first time this year, so I picked this book up to school myself on some of the history and lore of the race.

Author Brant tells the story of the 1982 Boston Marathon on alternating chapters, with every other chapter covering periods of either Beardsley's or Salazar's life story, pre-race and post-race.

I enjoyed the marathon story the most, and I would have liked the book better if he had told the story of the race straight through, with limited details about each runn
Ann Frost
Interesting story of a great race and then the tough times both men faced after what turned out to be the pinnacle race of their careers - Salazar through chronic exhaustion and depression and Beardsley through prescription drug addiction. The interesting factoid I picked up though did not come from the book, but rather from recounting to Tony the fact that Salazar had brought Henry Rono in to race him at 10,000 m on the track 9 days before Boston so Salazar could make a go of breaking the Ameri ...more
Jake Johnson
Glad I read it but the organization of the book bothered me a bit. It also focused a bit too much on the future since the "Duel in the Sun" and how the characters have evolved in retirement.
This was really good. I knew it would tell the story of the marathon but I didn't realize that it would also intertwine Beardsley and Salazar's life after the marathon and how they struggled mentally and physically to ever run the same again. A must read for runners.
Pretty darn amazing story; well written - riveting, actually! Two incredible athletes with dynamic and polar opposite personalities and struggles. Read this!
Koji Kawano
If you ran a Boston Marathon, you probably have heard of this classic battle between Alberto Salazar and Dick Beardsley in the 1982 Boston Marathon. In Duel in the Sun, the author, John Brant, tries to tell a dramatic tale of this classic race, but his style of weaving personal lives of these two accomplished runners into the epic battle did not work for me. It was as if I was trying to watch a Boston Marathon broadcast and a couple of Lifetime movies at the same time, flipping channels every 20 ...more
Non-fiction. Interesting story. Could have been shorter.
My apparently insatiable desire to read all/any running book took me to this one, purchased online from an American supplier. I knew the basic story of the New York marathon epic, but had no idea of the life stories of the two protagonists. The format is to tell the story of the race inter-weaved with chapters about the backgrounds and post-race traumas of Salazar and Beardsley. Interesting to see the parallels and subsequent (different) demises here. Makes me want to read Salazar's "14 minutes" ...more
I really enjoyed this book. It's the story of the top two finishers in the 1982 Boston Marathon - Alberto Salazar and Dick Beardsly. Some say it was the greatest marathon ever. The lives of both runners took some very interesting and tragic turns after the race, but the books provides great insights into competitive running and distance runners. On a sentimental note, the 1982 Boston Marathon was the first one I ran (illegally - I confess). I was only 1 hour and 40 minutes off the winning pace!
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“Indeed, the zeal of Boston's rank-and-file marathoners rivaled, and in some ways echoed, the religious passion of Nathaniel Howe and his congregation. The runners indulged in orgies of self-denial-running 100 miles a week, working junk )ohs in order to have time to train, paying their own way to races, banding together in ascetic cells, forgoing the temptations of an idolatrous world in order to attain grace and salvation out on the road. As in Puritan New England, grace was not blithely attained. A believer-a runner-earned it by losing toenails and training down to bone and muscle, just as the Puritans formed calluses on their knees from
praying. No one made a cent from their strenuous efforts. The running life, like the spiritual life, was its own reward.”
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