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Running Ransom Road: Confronting the Past, One Marathon at a Time

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  459 ratings  ·  76 reviews
The monikers drunk, addict, abuser, and boozehound were Caleb Daniloff’s for fifteen years. Now, the introduction that fits him best is My name is Caleb and I am a runner.

In Running Ransom Road, Daniloff, many years sober, confronts his past by setting out, over the course of eighteen months, to run marathons in the cities where he once lived and wreaked havoc. Competing f
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published October 9th 2012 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published January 1st 2012)
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Average rating 3.83  · 
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Pam Rickard
Feb 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I admit I'm the target market for this book. A runner, in recovery.

But I'm also a cynic, a skeptic and a hard sell when it comes to giving up time to read 'something else.' I've been blessed to experience several extraordinary adventures with my recovery and running over the past several years. I've read countless articles, papers and books on the subject of recovery and running. Undeniably, Caleb Daniloff's Running Ransom Road is simply the best, and hit me the hardest.

I got more than my mone
Jenna Deutsch
Oct 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Runner or not, Running Ransom Road will resonate with all its readers. Hearing Caleb's journey through his alcohol addiction, as he literally runs through places where he has struggled, makes you think about your past, and how you can improve it. As a runner, Caleb teaches me how running can heal wounds, and finding a passion will only improve your life and well-being. Hands down, five stars to Caleb, for sharing his story with the world— I can’t wait to share this book with friends, and read it ...more
Mark Matthews
Sep 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
‘Running Ransom Road, Confronting The Past, One Marathon At A Time,’ by Caleb Daniloff, is an incredible book where the author’s attempt to come to terms with the self-destruction of his past is experienced during the visceral, spiritual, and emotional maelstrom of running a marathon.

The result is perhaps my favorite book on marathoning. It is certainly the one with the most dog-ears on my paperback copy, and definitely the one which spoke most personally to my experience as a marathoner and rec
Angela Risner
Sep 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Caleb Daniloff is a former alcoholic and addict who is facing his demons by running marathons in locations where his life fell apart. I thought that was an interesting way to make amends and find closure.

Caleb's parents are both journalists. His father was transferred to Moscow when Caleb was in 6th grade. The family spent the next 5 years there until his father was arrested by the KGB and charged with espionage. His father was released within the same month and the family headed home to the Un
Cinthia Ritchie
Apr 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Since I'm both runner and a writer, I'm picky about running books. Most of what I've read, while informative, interesting and even well-written, lacked a certain gritty, truthful depth.

Then I discovered Caleb Daniloff's "Running Ransom Road."

Daniloff, a recovering alcoholic, uses running as his own personal 12-step program. As a means of cleansing his soul, he returns to painful places from his past and runs marathons (or, in a few cases, half-marathons and shorter distances).

As a marathoner my
Nov 19, 2012 rated it liked it
Like a weekend long run, Caleb Daniloff's "Running Ransom Road" starts off sluggish and without enthusiasm. From the start it is clear that Daniloff has a rare and astounding ability to craft original, artful sentences. However, as a fellow marathon runner, I wondered why I should care about a thirtysomething man training as a non-qualifying participant for The Boston Marathon. Daniloff needed to pull in the reader earlier by describing rock bottom, by detailing the low points in his addiction-f ...more
Apr 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dharma
A stark, meditative, very compelling memoir of a recovering alcoholic's obsession with running - he runs marathons in all of his "bad" places. The book is structured along these marathons, where we journey with him both along the route (so, some nice writing about the grueling march), as well as experience flashbacks to various points in his life.

The flashbacks don't necessarily progress chronologically, and it's generally impressionistic. But that's fine; the Tale of Alcoholism, after all, is
Oct 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
I always enjoy learning about why others have chosen to start the journey of running a marathon. I am not that brave (yet) and only run half marathons but it is an equally challenging and rewarding adventure for me.

Caleb's book is broken up into seven chapters, one for each race that he runs. Intermingled between the story of his training and the race is his backstory into his alcoholic past. I found this book fascinating because of his descriptions and honesty of his past and his insight into w
Matthew Trevithick
Feb 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I'm fortunate enough to know Caleb, and always enjoy his writing. This book tackles the journey from alcoholism and drug use to sobriety through running. This book was personal on several levels - we went to the same high school and his descriptions of running through Boston will make any native smile warmly. And the use of an extreme athletic frame of mind as a foundation by which you can outperform everyone else - and your own sense of limitations - will be familiar to all serious athletes. Bu ...more
Mark Baker
Sep 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Caleb Daniloff opens up about his life as an alcoholic as he travels to the cities he used to live in to run marathons. The book mixes the past and the present to weave a compelling and emotionally captivating story. I really got caught up in his story and enjoyed every page of it. And as a running, I certainly identified with the descriptions of the races.

Read my full review at Carstairs Considers.
Dec 31, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoirs, sport, 2013
I thought the premise was good, but I was a little put off by his attitude towards people who walk when they run. It was such a minute thing in the book and I'm not sure why I was so offended by it, except for that he kept bringing it up. The writing was okay. It kept jumping back and forth between the race he was running and the past and I had a hard time keeping up. Overall, a decent enough read, though not as riveting as I would have liked.
Jon Jefferson
May 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
As a runner and a writer, I was doubly captivated by Daniloff's account of running his way to health, wholeness, and redemption. Revisiting the scenes of his life's biggest screwups - and reliving and reflecting on those debacles while running a grueling marathon in each place - was an inspired way to confront the damage he'd done to himself and to others. It was also a splendid way to take readers with him, step by literal step, on the long run to reclaim his life. A fine, fine book.
Oct 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: giveaways-won
I enjoyed Caleb Daniloff's journey through sobriety so much that I chose to use it in an assignment for a literature review in a substance abuse lecture. Daniloff is a great storyteller and you are easily drawn into his life as if you are right there running the race of sobriety with him. If you do not understand addiction, you will after reading his story.
Oct 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
Kind of hard to read a running memoir right now as I've been taking some time (a year!) off from running due to a mysterious and elusive injury. This book made me really really miss running which must be a testament to Caleb's ability to convey what a magical, transformative act running can be.
Marykay Pogar
Dec 30, 2012 rated it liked it
Another running-saved-my-alcoholic/drug-addicted-ass memoir.
Jul 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
As a long distance runner I was excited to find this one, and although I could not relate to his background or the reasons he began running (former addict), I enjoyed the author's perspectives on how running had changed his life and his quest to return to the places that he had been in his "past life" and complete runs in those places. People turn to running for many reasons, beyond health, and oftentimes it's a means of an escape, or a band aid, or, as in this book's case, trading one addiction ...more
Apr 18, 2020 rated it liked it
running, sobriety, travel, redemption. i liked this book. i related to the story a lot. the chaos and darkness of addiction. the fog of early sobriety. the clarity of running and the desire for redemption. some very hard hitting raw passages that i admired for the authors honesty. the book starts with some of it best chapters but in my mind lost its way a little towards the end. it was good but after such a powerful start i felt like it disengaged and perhaps just filled the pages towards the en ...more
Oct 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
I enjoy books about running and also memoirs about overcoming something so this seemed like something I’d surely like (he reflects on his past alcoholism and recovers via running). But, it didn’t quite work for me. I really enjoyed some chapters such as the one in Moscow. Yet, others didn’t work so well. A few great individual essays but maybe not enough for a book.
May 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book on beating addiction and overcoming adversity. I got the audio version and finished it in one sitting. A must read for any runner or athlete.
Jul 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Good writing but the story is a little meh! Drunk finds running and chases forgiveness! Ugh it's ok! Quick read and some good imagery and moments but overall a little lacking!
Jul 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, running
Reflection back on surviving an alcohol addiction told over the course of seven races. A testament to the therapeutic side of running.
Dec 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great writing, good story.
Jan 01, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: running
We've all struggled with some facet of life we'd like to change. Any runner can relate to the memories and processing which happen over the course of many miles.
Oct 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I like to calibrate how "good" a book is by how late into the night I am left reading. It manages to be "great" if it can inspire a real shift in consciousness during those late nights. Running Ransom Road is such a book. To say that it is mere confessional, or only a narrative on running through some real and metaphorical difficulties, is to sell it short. The content is as interesting as the way the various narratives are sewn together and this, to me, makes it a unique, fantastic read. Easily ...more
Matthew Carlton
Nov 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
No longer do I run from my demons, but run with them. We pace each other, the past and me. And some days, I go faster.

That statement was made in the prologue of this memoir, I realized then I'd enjoy this book.

I won't pretend or act like I know what it's like to go through the things Caleb went through before writing this book. I will acknowledge though, that I have a few demons that I still need to deal with. They're just not the same as Caleb's demons of drugs and alcohol. The book chronic
Oct 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Without question, "Running Ransom Road" is one of the most amazing book I have ever had the pleasure to read. The author Caleb Daniloff, journalist and contributor to Public Radio, puts it all out there for the world to see. His addiction to alcohol, his bed wetting as a child, his dysfunctional and anti-social behavior, and so much more craziness through his life as an adult is documented. Daniloff did not follow the A.A. path to sobriety, although he implemented some of their precepts in his r ...more
Sep 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
"There are countless souls in sneakers running away from something, or better, running through and past whatever it is that haunts them." Caleb Daniloff

This is the story about one mans journey of sobriety and the part that running holds for him in maintaining that recovery, both from that addiction and to learning to care for and forgive himself.

I found that although I don't have an alcohol or drug addiction, I was able to identify with a lot of his self image issues that he talks about. I used
Jan 23, 2013 rated it liked it
I was very pleased to win Running Ransom Road through GoodReads. I am not a runner and have had a pretty tame life compared to Mr. Daniloff, but his story is about much more than running and marathons and what a "bad boy" he was.
It was quite intriguing to go though his life with him as he both looked back and ran forward. I enjoyed reading about his thoughts as he ran- I do not "get" why people do marathons and run this way, but it was definitely part of his healing process.
Daniloff writes wit
Tammam Aloudat
Feb 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
I have read a lot of running books of all sorts, this book delivers more insights on recovery from alcoholism than it does on running. It is about recovery and does a good job talking about it but for the most part the running seems like the backdrop of the book. It provides little in terms of adding to your running ability or arsenal of knowledge and "tricks" but is probably immensely helpful for a recovering person who might use running as a tool to stay sober.

Having said that, there are seve
Apr 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
There are no big surprises here. A brief description of this book will give you a pretty clear idea of the content. What the back cover can't convey is the thoughtful manner in which the reader is included in some truly intimate challenges. Each race brings it's own unique baggage to confront, and the course maps that mark the start of the chapter parallel the shifts in perspective as the author relives and acknowledges some of his darkest moments. Runners will enjoy geeking out over some of the ...more
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Caleb Daniloff was born in 1969 in Washington, D.C. In 1981, the shy and nervous sixth‑grader moved with his parents to the former Soviet Union, where his father, Nicholas, was stationed as bureau chief for U.S. News & World Report. Caleb was enrolled in Soviet Pioneer camp, Soviet school, and a rigorous Soviet gymnastics program, soon dreaming in Russian and passing for a Muscovite. Not surprisin ...more

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