The tips4running review of Once a Runner by John L. Parker, Jr.
Once a Runner: A Novel
by John L. Parker, Jr. is an extremely rare story. It is a fictional story about running that describes the pain and joy of running and racing better than non-fiction. Cassidy, the miler, Denton, the Olympian, Mizner, the teammate, and Nubbins, the idiot freshman, bring the running world to life.
This cult classic centers around a collegiate runner Quenton Cassidy at the fictitious Southern University in the panhandle of Florida. Even though it is set in the late 1970's the story is timeless. Cassidy is a 4:00.3 miler, but he has more than just the clock to battle against. He tries to balance a relationship, school, being Captain of the Track team, and his training.
The book follows him through one year in school, from cross country, through indoor track to his penultimate mile race in the outdoor season. Where the author hits his stride is in the way he describes the pain and struggle of training and racing. If you have ever pushed yourself further than you ever imagined, that inexplicable pain is shown time and time again in this story. The book is exciting, depressing, and exhilarating all in one.
Another author of running, Tom Jordan, sums up the book. "Perhaps the best novel ever written about running. There are parts of Once a Runner: A Novel
that are pure poetry. In enjoyed it thoroughly and have never read descriptions of what it is to run and race as accurate and compelling as Parker's."
- Reviewed by David Tiefenthaler
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