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

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  2,022 ratings  ·  133 reviews
John Brant re-creates the tense drama of the 1982 Boston Marathon—and the powerful forces of fate that drove these two athletes in the years afterwards
"One was a humble farm boy from Minnesota. The other was the most electrifying distance runner of his time. In 1982, they battled stride for stride for more than two hours in the most thrilling Boston Maraton ever run. Then
Hardcover, 210 pages
Published February 21st 2006 by Rodale Books
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Average rating 4.05  · 
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Aug 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: running
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
Jun 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Carroll Larremore
May 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
This was just ok for me. I’m a big fan of books about running, and this really was a phenomenal duel many years ago, but more than I wanted to know about it.
Apr 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Best book I've read in a while. Great story about the tolls of distance running, mortality, and humanizing even elite athletes. ...more
Shannon Fields
Aug 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
I love running books. They are my version of a beach read. Books about epic struggle. Books about crazy dedication (obsession) to pushing oneself to greater achievements. I did not know the story of the '82 marathon and Salazar and Beardsley. I enjoyed learning about it. ...more
Feb 26, 2011 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
May 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a slightly biased review, as I am a runner and wish to run the Boston marathon one day... I enjoyed the in depth bio of Dick and Alberto, I am calling them by their first names because I feel like their friends after having read this book. This book portrays an honest view of people doing amazing things and humanizes them in a level that we can relate too. A book worth reading if you are not a runner, but a book you MUST read if you are a runner.
Jun 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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.
Mar 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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.
John Cummings
Sep 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Overall, an interesting and exciting book. I actually didn't know who won the marathon, and the book kept the secret well (except for the picture on the front cover).

Although I feel there could have been more content about the race itself, these runners have very interesting pre- and post-marathon lives, so it was a pleasure to read about them.
David Lysenko
Nov 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: uplifting
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.
Jan 27, 2009 rated it liked it
Good historical look @ one of the closest and more controversial Boston finishes.
Nov 06, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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. ...more
Kelli Stephenson
Jan 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
Anyone who has run a marathon would appreciate this book and what happened to the two runners.
Aug 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Fascinating book about the mind set of two determined athletes. Learned a lot about marathon running. Structure of the book confusing at times but all in all, a compelling read.
Dec 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
I thoroughly enjoyed "Duel in the Sun." Coming into it, I knew Dick Beardsley was a Midwestern runner, but that was the extent of what I knew about him. I knew little more about Alberto Salazar aside from the snippets I picked up when his autobiography came out and the vicious posts about him on As long as a marathon feels while you're running it, I couldn't imagine how the author was going to draw out the action of a single race over 200 pages. The way Brant does it is by expertly ...more
Dec 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Being new to the sport of running, I am continuing to try to learn about the past accomplishments. I have heard about Alberto Salazar through other books of current day athletes, and I have seen him pop-up in a lot of these books as a coach and a legend, so I picked up this book to try to learn a little bit about American marathon history.

The story takes us through the 1982 Boston marathon and the duel between Dick Beardsley and Alberto Salazar. I had no idea who Dick Beardsley was, so I wasn’t
Feb 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Being a "citizen runner" (Brant's phrase) myself, I'm drawn to running books and I enjoy reading them for inspiration in my own races. This book has great descriptions of running and I could easily put myself in the racers' position (not their pace, of course), but it was the non-running parts of this book that kept me interested and prompted the most thought. To see two great competitors find greatness in a race, only to faulter elsewhere is a unique reminder about how even healthy pursuits can ...more
Shaun Deane
Grew on me and also, I'm a sucker for a good running story but beyond that, although the writing was nothing extraordinary, it was well-constructed and did a nice job of highlighting the ironies that can be present in two entirely different people who went through an almost identical experience. I threw up on the course, near Heartbreak Hill and watched this race, a year after running Boston for my first time, in 1981. Also, my opinion of Salazar was altered (positively) by this story. I have al ...more
Jan 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Succinct, incisive, and brilliant in its economy. Brandt tells an epic story in an imaginative way, without any fluff whatsoever.

If you are a distance runner who enjoys the sports' history, this book is the one.

After completing the book you will know Salazar and Beardsley about as well as possible from a distance (pun). What drove them and what occurred in their lives after Boston '82 is one incredible story.

The only resason I hesitate in giving this book 5 stars is that I was looking for more d
Lauren Bendiksen
Jun 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a great recap of one of the best road races in history. The book doesn't concentrate only on the race but rather gives the stories of both runners, Salazar and Beardsley. I am inspired to read their biographies now, to learn more about each runner. It inspired me to push harder in my own races. I can't imagine what their legs felt like at the finish! Nice recap of a great, historic running race. ...more
Benjamin Torres
May 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have read several biographies of runners, with upbringings a lot more challenging and interesting than those of Salazar or Beardsley, but I think Brant did a fantastic job of telling the story of the 82 Boston Marathon as what it was, one of the most important and epic events in running history and also in the lives of both runners.
Lindsay Gasik
Oct 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
A surprisingly quick and engaging read about a moment in the lives of two runners that seemed poised for greatness but ended in struggle and tragedy. I thought the author did a good job weaving together multiple timelines. Definitely a book for runners, as I'm not sure how interested non-runners would be in the struggle. ...more
Apr 04, 2019 rated it liked it
The story of the 1982 Boston Marathon and the lives of the two front runners. Not as much about the race as I would have liked. The story includes the lives of Beardsley and Salazar. Beardsley and his drug abuse problems. Salazar and his depression.

Perhaps 3.5 stars. Never really a page turner that I had to get back too, but an okay read about running.
Apr 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
I love this genre and I liked the story a lot. A nice pre-marathon read about two amazing athletes. But the book was a little bit disjointed going between the 2 men and the race and the aftermath of the race. I feel like the actual excitement of the race could have been conveyed better. Some weird italicized passages that felt a bit off, probably due to the mix of source material.
Tali Nay
Apr 23, 2019 rated it liked it
I’d call this a 3.5. It reminds me a bit of Boys in the Boat, the detailed history of a couple of athletes that ultimately leads to an epic competition. It’s not as good as Boys in the Boat, mind you, and it could use more description after all that buildup about what actually happens at the finish line, but this is an enjoyable read.
Andrea Scott
Sep 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
On the side of slow to start, this book intertwined stories from throughout the lives of Dick Beardsley and Alberto Salazar with a play-by-play of the legendary ‘82 Boston Marathon race between them. I thought it would be just another running book (which I am more than happy to read!) but it was much more.
Oct 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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