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Once a Runner | [John L. Parker Jr.]

Once a Runner

Once a Runner captures the essence of what it means to be a competitive runner; to devote your entire existence to a single-minded pursuit of excellence. It has become one of the most beloved sports novels ever written. Originally self-published in 1978 and sold at road races out of the trunk of the author's car, reading the book became a rite of passage for many runners, and tattered copies were handed down like sacred texts from generation to generation.
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Publisher's Summary

Once a Runner captures the essence of what it means to be a competitive runner; to devote your entire existence to a single-minded pursuit of excellence. It has become one of the most beloved sports novels ever written. Originally self-published in 1978 and sold at road races out of the trunk of the author's car, reading the book became a rite of passage for many runners, and tattered copies were handed down like sacred texts from generation to generation.

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.

What the Critics Say

"The best novel ever written about running." (Runner's World)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.7 (242 )
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3.8 (120 )
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3.7 (116 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Rick J. Mitchell 03-28-10 Listener Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Spellbinding!"

    A great story, particularly if you are a runner or are involved in aerobic sports.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bennett south lyon, MI, United States 11-12-09
    Bennett south lyon, MI, United States 11-12-09 Member Since 2009
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    "motivating, inspiring."

    This book will take you to the limit. immpossible to put down! worth your money, every penny of it!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Porter Ranch, CA, United States 02-27-10
    David Porter Ranch, CA, United States 02-27-10 Member Since 2007
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    "Wind in Your Face"

    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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andy Westport, CT, United States 09-03-09
    Andy Westport, CT, United States 09-03-09 Member Since 2002
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    "the way it really is"

    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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dianne O Canada 05-04-10
    Dianne O Canada 05-04-10 Listener Since 2009

    Dianne in Canada

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    "For my first read a running book it was good"

    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.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Hale 06-15-14
    Hale 06-15-14 Member Since 2011
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    "Sets the standard for a book on running."
    Would you consider the audio edition of Once a Runner to be better than the print version?

    No. I would recommend the print version over the audio, although the audio is good.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Once a Runner?

    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.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Patrick Lawlor’s performances?

    Patrick was okay, but I would prefer a different narrator.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No. I would compare it more to fine wine. A glass at a time, but not all in one sitting.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elisabeth HINSDALE, IL, United States 03-13-14
    Elisabeth HINSDALE, IL, United States 03-13-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Get the Book, Not the Audiobook"
    Where does Once a Runner rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    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).


    What did you like best about this story?

    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.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Patrick Lawlor?

    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.


    If you could rename Once a Runner, what would you call it?

    I like the title.


    Any additional comments?

    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).

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ezra A. Adams Tucker, GA 09-22-13
    Ezra A. Adams Tucker, GA 09-22-13 Member Since 2010
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    "Great performance of one of my all-time favorites"
    What did you love best about Once a Runner?

    Extraordinary book, and the reading makes it better. I use it to motivate me to consistency in every area of my life.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Once a Runner?

    Bruce Denton's "introduction" in chapter 6 is really compelling. I think that the end captures everything about a race!


    Which scene was your favorite?

    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.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    When Denton says to Quenton at one point, "How nice for you to have arrived right on time." It's a beautifully poignant moment.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Erin Parish 01-13-11
    Erin Parish 01-13-11 Listener Since 2006
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    "Not for me"

    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.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Denise Northridge, CA, United States 03-01-12
    Denise Northridge, CA, United States 03-01-12
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    "For real runners only"

    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.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 15 results PREVIOUS12NEXT
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  • Colette
    ValeGuernsey
    7/31/10
    Overall
    "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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Janet
    Preston, United Kingdom
    1/9/12
    Overall
    "Simply Lovely"

    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:-)

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • edward
    Swineshead, United Kingdom
    7/19/10
    Overall
    "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...

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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