Friday, July 29, 2005

The Looniness of the Long Distance Runner

Friday, July 29, 2005
After agreeing to sponsor a friend of his for the NYC Marathon, Russell Taylor decides that he would like to run that marathon the following year. Taylor is nearly 40 years old and is not a runner. "The Looniness of the Long Distance Runner" is Taylor's account of training for the NYC Marathon. The subtitle for this book covers exactly how crazy he is: "an unfit Londoner's attempt to run the New York City Marathon from scratch".

Russell Taylor is, apparently a humor writer, and so this book is filled with humorous observations on running, training, races, and why exactly he is doing this. Some of it is actually quite funny and I honestly found myself chuckling out loud a couple of times. Unfortunately, when I wasn't chuckling I was reading and hoping that something interesting would be on the next page. Often enough there wasn't. As a runner I am drawn to books about running and about marathons so I figured this book would be a natural fit, but it was a struggle to get through this one. Taylor includes a section of his training diary and that section was the single least interesting part of the book. It just dragged on and on and on. Sort of like this review.

Then Taylor gets to the races. As a part of his training Taylor ran several races and his racecourse descriptions and his feelings during the race (he made some interesting decisions as to which ones to run) were fascinating and funny. Once again I started enjoying parts of the book. The marathon itself seemed a little skimpy in the description.

I just can't recommend "The Looniness of the Long Distance Runner" to anyone. There are far better books about one man's journey to race (try "To the Edge" by Kirk Johnson for a more interesting book about an ultramarathon), and unfortunately when the humor stops there isn't much here to hold my interest. Pass on this one.


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