Saturday, November 19, 2011

'Nuff Read: Once a Runner

Me, Finger Lakes Trail 50k, July 2009.
Occasionally I am reminded of quotes or excerpts from previously enjoyed books which are so well crafted that they stay in my memory and speak for themselves (except, of course, for my need to frame its presence on this blog). Last week a student of mine had inquired as to whether or not I had ever read Once a Runner by John L. Parker. As a recreational athlete, high school track coach and English teacher, I was proud that he had even heard of, let alone read, the book. The novel is chock full of well turned descriptve nuggets, such as:
"We can blaze! Become legends in our own time, strike fear in the heart of mediocre talent everywhere! We can scald dogs, put records out of reach! Make the stands gasp as we blow into an unearthly kick from three hundred yards out! We can become God's own messengers delivering the dreaded scrolls! We can race dark Satan himself till he wheezes fiery cinders down the back straightaway! They'll speak our names in hushed tones,'Those guys are animals' they'll say! We can lay it on the line, bust a gut, show them a clean pair of heels. We can sprint the turn on a spring breeze and feel the winter leave our feet!"
Once a Runner was first published in 1978 and following a limited print run, became a "cult classic" among running enthusiasts. (Somehow in 2007, I was able to purchase a copy online for the very reasonable price of $15.00!) It was recently reprinted in 2009 when Parker publishes a sequel, Again to Carthage. (A book I have yet taken advantage of the opportunity to read.)

Even now, years after my best racing years are behind me (and I wasn't really "racing" all that much or very well)--it is hard not to put the shoes on and head for a jog around the block while re-reading the excerpt above... which is just what I think I'll do.

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