Vanessa's Reviews > Once a Runner

Once a Runner by John L. Parker Jr.
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F_50x66
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Jun 27, 10

Read in April, 2010

There are truths about distance running in this novel that strum at the very essence of it all.

Aptly named Quenton Cassidy is a promising collegiate runner who aspires to run the mile in under 4:00 minutes. The intensity of his training naturally has side effects on other areas of his life, causing rifts in his love life and a earning him a reputation as the ringleader of dangerously absurd escapades.

Having run cross country and track throughout my high school years, I can't deny the uncanny way Parker captures the experience of distance running. The quirkiness that gets extracted out of people through any trial of miles is something to smile and shake one's head about. In the throes of a racing season, the training, ritual, anticipation, the singular battle of wills against others and oneself, and utter satisfaction or disappointment a spare few minutes of time can bring, these things are forever etched into one's memories. It really is amazing how running an old trail, tracing steps at the track, or reading about these experiences can summon it all back as if it were yesterday.

As with any book, there are parts I don't relate to. For example, the running focuses almost entirely on men. Absent are references to running through monthly feminine issues or the sideswiping dangers of ponytails. Also, the level of athletic ability and ambition, the hunger for glory, is far beyond anything I've ever experienced. Yet, the story is conveyed in such a way that calibrates the book for an audience including anyone from those merely interested in running all the way to hardcore competitors.

Overall, I feel I am somehow a better person for having read this book. It was about time this cult-classic was republished and made available to the masses, and I look forward to revisiting it again in the future.
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