The start of the Year 2014 brought fresh cheers for me as I got a surprise package from my blogger-friend Wandering Jouster last week.
Inside was a nice-looking gray Under Armour shirt. More importantly, a running book that I have been eyeing to have for quite some time came with it.
The book is “Going Long” and it is “an anthology of 30 unforgettable stories that explore what it means not only to be a runner, but to be human.” Edited by David Wiley, the book contains the best stories from Runner’s World with contributions coming from 1968 Boston Marathon winner Amby Burfoot, Munich Olympic marathoner Kenny Moore, Born to Run author Christopher McDougall, and 14 more exemplary writers.
A good running book is soul food for the runner in me and anthology of this calibre is akin to an eat-all-you-can lunch buffet in Spiral at Sofitel. Busog to the max. A sample of the excellent readings I have consumed from this book are the following:
1. “Duel In the Sun” by John Brant talks about the most thrilling Boston Marathon ever run. In April 19, 1982, the most electrifying runner of his generation (Alberto Salazar) and a humble farm boy from Minnesota (Dick Beardsley) battled stride for stride for more than two hours (2 hrs & 9 mins to be exact). Rare it is to have a wire-to-wire battle in a 42-km long sporting event.
2. “The Power And The Glory” by Michael Perry and “Pure Heart” by Burfoot deal with the stories of two Ryans - - - Ryan Hall and Ryan Shay, respectively. Both Ryan’s awoke on November 3, 2007 hoping to fulfill their Olympic dreams. They were both running at the U.S. men’s Olympic Marathon Trials, the quadrennial event that would produce America’s team for 2008 Beijing Olympics. The two are good friends (Hall was a Stanford teammate of Shay’s wife and Hall’s wife was the bridesmaid at the Shays’ wedding) and had a short jog together at the Trial’s venue in Central Park New York the Friday before. At the end of that fateful day, Hall would win in 2:09:02, breaking the Olympic Trials record set in 1980, and at age 25, became the 2nd youngest trials winner in history (after Frank Shorter who won at age 24 in 1972). The other Hall, Shay would be dead at age 28, having collapsed past the five-mile mark.
3. At age 4, finished already 48 marathons. This was after being sold before the age of 1 by the mother to a passing peddler for the price of 800 rupees. Such is the extraordinary story of Budhia Sing which is chronicled in the “Wonder Boy” by Bill Donahue. Born in 2002 to a very poor family in the Indian state of Orissa, Budhia came into the limelight when he ran a record 65 kms from Puri to Bhubaneswar in the sizzling heat of May 2006 in just 7 hours and 2 minutes. He was immediately dubbed a marathon prodigy and was also seen as medal prospect in future Olympics. Such extraordinary feats worthy of a Bollywood movie extravaganza. But is it?
4. No such ambiguity in the story of an amputee teenager who captivated the heart and soul of a huge country and “Following Terry Fox” by John Brant is an account of the attempt of the author to retrace the thousands miles route taken by Canada’s most-loved athletic figure. In March 1977, Fox, a cross-country runner at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia was diagnosed with bone cancer, and his right leg was amputated six inches above his knee. He came up with the idea to raise money for cancer research by running across Canada (5,000 miles+), with the goal of raising $ 1 Million. On April 1980, the “Marathon of Hope” started at St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada’s easternmost point with Fox dipping his prosthetic leg in the Atlantic Ocean and beginning his run toward Vancouver on Canada’s Pacific Coast. Fox health began to deteriorate as he passed the halfway mark of his run. On September 1980, he was hospitalized and doctor discovered that the cancer had spread from his legs to his lungs. Fox had run 3,339 miles in 143 days, about 23.3 miles a day. He raised more than $ 11 Million for cancer research in 6 months. In February 1981, donations hits $ 24 Million. On June 28, 1981, Fox died at the age of 22. The Terry Fox Run, held annually every September in Canada, has raised more than $ 400 Million for cancer research. Other Terry Fox Runs are held in more than 50 countries. Any Terry Fox Run in the Philippines?
25 more stories to nibble at. Masiramon asin bastante. In this present world of twitter and short attention span, we take the contrarian approach, and hunger for stories that are long (8,000 or 9,000 words) and deep, transcending running as mere sport in some way, and connecting it to larger themes such as fame, faith, family, and even life and death.
We want stories that move and inspire.