Monday, October 16, 2006

Buy this Book

This fellow paid me a very nice compliment on my write up after the marathon I ran back in January, although it's only now that I'm realizing it. He compared a bit of the drama of my race to an event from the book "A Cold Clear Day", which I've just started reading. The book is a biography of Buddy Edelen, a before-the-running-boom marathoner who broke the world record for the distance in 1963, marking the first time since 1925 that an American had done so.

I'm serious when I say you can stop passing around that tattered copy of "Once a Runner" now. Buy this book for any marathoner on your list and you will not be disappointed.

After suffering through the awkward prose of Harriers, which I desperately wanted to recommend but can't, I am taken aback by the writing of this book. I try to mark passages that I think are especially affecting as I read, and I was left with a total of four for the entire Harriers book. While only on page 42 of "Day" I'm up to ten marks or so already. The author Frank Murphy had to have runners in mind as his audience, as much time is spent detailing Edelen's training as well as the systems followed by his predecessors and fellow competitors. Duncan will enjoy reading about Emil Zatopek's favorite workout leading up to the 1952 Olympics, which consisted of 20 times 200 meters, followed by 40 times 400 meters, followed by 20 times 200 meters. Reading Murphy's descriptions of what these athletes suffered through makes my legs ache while just sitting in a chair, and the doggedness and determination of Edelen illustrates the true meaning of competition and commitment.

Buddy's coach Fred Wilt describing Edelen- "Buddy had an unusual stride-I can remember people around me in the stands remarking about it-but I thought it was fine. Better yet was his attitude. Most people don't have the courage to lead in an important race. Buddy did. When he ran, a change came over him. You could see the amiability in him right to the time the gun sounded. Then his eyes darkened, his features flattened, his chest expanded, he stood up a little straighter. As the race progressed, he had a quality almost like meanness. He just would not let up."

Great stuff


Eric said...

Wow. I have never been so anxious to read a book.

I've only read a few pages of Harriers, and I can see what you are talking about. It's a pretty blunt piece of prose.

Lawrence said...

Thanks for the recommendation.

Homeslice said...

Great book! Definitely one of my favorites. Edelen's hard work and dedication to the marathon is amazing, especially considering the time...well before the 'running boom'. It's too bad more people in the running community aren't aware of his accomplishments.