Once a Runner is the story of Quenton Cassidy, a collegiate runner at fictional Southeastern University whose lifelong dream is to run a four-minute mile. He is less than a second away when the political and cultural turmoil of the Vietnam War era intrudes into the staid recesses of his school's athletic department. After he becomes involved in an athletes' protest, Cassidy is suspended from his track team.
Under the tutelage of his friend and mentor, Bruce Denton, a graduate student and former Olympic gold medalist, Cassidy gives up his scholarship, his girlfriend, and possibly his future to withdraw to a monastic retreat in the countryside and begin training for the race of his life: a head-to-head match with the greatest miler in history.
This audiobook is a rare insider's account of the incredibly intense lives of elite distance runners; an inspiring, funny, and spot-on tale of one man's quest to become a champion.
©2009 John L Parker; (P)2009 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
"The best novel ever written about running." (Runner's World)
In a field, far deprived from human contact, Quenton Cassidy and Bruce Denton clip off sixty-second quarters in preparation for the inevitable dance with fate – the ever, elusive four-minute mile. In Once a Runner, John L. Parker, Jr. masterfully captures the collegiate running experience while following his main character Quenton Cassidy.
The research behind this novel is right on the mark. The famed Millrose Games, with its long, rich history is best known for its Wanamaker Mile. John captures the allure of this event, and other great events like the Drake Relays with excitement and passion. Southeastern University is the home to its greatest athletes that are full of college politics, back history, athletes that have Olympic and World hopes and some drama.
Rolling through campus, bobbing and weaving through campus students, Quenton Cassidy and his merry gents feel the wind in there faces, and the ground beneath them. I listened to this book in the car and I found myself lost in my childhood. As a kid, I grew up running with a local track club and then eventually in high school. I remember how it made me feel. I remember the joy of the wind in my face and the rolling hills of a single-track trail winding through a wooded forest. I detested the intervals much like the characters in this book; however, nonetheless this book is a must read for anyone who loves running.
After reading this book, you will want to hit the trails or streets for some exercise – that alone is inspiring.
This book will take you to the limit. immpossible to put down! worth your money, every penny of it!
This book was a pretty realistic telling of the typical journey to being a world class competitive runner. There are many distractions along the way, and John Parker does a good job of laying them out.
Dianne in Canada
Is it a coincidence that when I listened to "The Perfect Mile" (a great book) part of it sounded like this book....did the author of this book use the ideas of The Perfect Mile and change the characters and story around a bit?
It was a good book but I found the first part really boring and dragged on until the storey finally started to emerge. The narrator was kind of irritating to listen to until I became used to his whiney voice.
No. I would recommend the print version over the audio, although the audio is good.
There were a number of memorable moments and great quotable lines. While the plot is good, it's one of those rare books that is enjoyable even when it's just meandering along, a hallmark of good writing.
Patrick was okay, but I would prefer a different narrator.
No. I would compare it more to fine wine. A glass at a time, but not all in one sitting.
I would think an ex-elite runner, especially a middle-aged one, would absolutely love the book. It captures the essence of elite running in the 70s. From a political point of view, the author set up a few straw men and knocked them down, but that's okay.
The story is one of the best, however, I would have much preferred a different narrator (I just felt like he wasn't a good fit for the age of the characters).
As a former college runner, I appreciate the author being so knowledgeable about the college running culture and telling Quentin's story in a fun and quirky way.
A college runner, actually. He would know better how to act the parts, and he would sound of the same age of the characters. It sounded like the narrator may have been a good 30 years older than these college boys. If not a college runner for the part, then at least someone who sounds more of the same character as Quentin Cassidy.
I like the title.
Such a runners cult classic. This book will be enjoyed for decades.
Also, there is a sequel to this book, which I started once but didn't finish, as at least the first several chapters aren't really running related. And I might say that although women could easily enjoy Once a Runner, the sequel seems to be more of a man's book (about fishing, war, etc).
Extraordinary book, and the reading makes it better. I use it to motivate me to consistency in every area of my life.
Bruce Denton's "introduction" in chapter 6 is really compelling. I think that the end captures everything about a race!
My favorite scene is probably the chapter called "Demons" where Cassidy tries to articulate what runner allows him to express. Don't let the title of the chapter fool you - it's a literary device.
When Denton says to Quenton at one point, "How nice for you to have arrived right on time." It's a beautifully poignant moment.
This is my first regretted purchase on Audible, not bad after 40 plus books. While the subject interested me, the narrator and the writer were less than I expected. I really should've listened to the sample more closely before this purchase.
I didn't run in high school or college. I felt that I was missing a whole bunch by not having been part of that culture. Need to be a life long runner from school to really enjoy this book.
I was there - with the night runners:-) A great book for audio and beautifully read. Everyone who has ever put one foot in from=nt of the other should listen to this book:-)
"Feel the pain!!"
If you've had any involvement in endurance sport then you'll enjoy this. Basically, a story of no gain without pain and total dedication, plus a good ending and it's beautifully written. Well read too.
"Enjoyable for Runners and with a great finish"
I love books that take you inside the mind of a runner and attempt to offer explanations about the single minded dedication and pain that I guess all runners experience. This book, set largely on a US college campus, is both fascinating and feels real. I run and so can empathise with much of the activity - it may be less interesting for non-runners...
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