Long Road to Boston: The Pursuit of the World's Most Coveted Marathon
What does it take to chase down a lifelong dream, even after you’ve failed three times? And why have thousands of people put the Boston Marathon at the top of their bucket list?
Long Road to Boston combines the history of the world’s most coveted marathon with the personal journey of one ordinary runner who seeks to fulfill his ultimate amateur athletic goal. Tracing back to the marathon’s roots in Greek mythology and sharing the stories of the many colourful and inspiring characters who have crossed Boston’s finish line, the book explores why modern runners challenge themselves with such ambitious goals and revels in the reward of a persistent dream achieved.
Since the first edition in 1897, more than 640,000 runners have travelled the hallowed path. The Boston Marathon isn’t just the oldest marathon in the world, but the most esteemed. Every year, thousands of runners across the planet try to meet its challenging qualifying times, dreaming of stepping into more than a century of history. Some make it, others fall short and try again. Since the devastating finish-line bombing in 2013, the reverence and demand for the Boston Marathon has only increased.
As the founder and back-page columnist of iRun magazine and the host of its radio show and podcast, Mark Sutcliffe has interviewed hundreds of runners who have chased Boston. And over the course of more than five years and more than a dozen marathons, he too closed in on his qualifying time, failing repeatedly, for one reason or another, before finally earning a place in the 2015 edition.
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Mark's book 'Long Road to Boston' is an excellent read, both as a historical account of some of the key races and colourful characters throughout it's rich history, and as a personal testimony of the struggles, heartache, frustrations and blood sweat and tears that anyone who sets the bar of achievement just beyond reach can relate to. I found myself reliving my own personal journey to attempt to qualify, and was motivated to get out and train every time I put the book down.
I just finished reading the e-book version on the weekend. I have read a lot of books about the Boston Marathon, but this one really spoke to me more than any other. Once I started reading it, I wasn't able to put it down. I am amazed at how many details of the course and the experience that Mark was able to retain on his first time running Boston. I have run Boston 16 times since 1991. I was so overwhelmed with the experience my first time running it that much of it was a blur. It wasn't until I went back and ran it again (and again and again) that I began to really appreciate what was going on out there.
Long Road to Boston captures it so well. What I really appreciated was that it was from a non-elite runner perspective. This will really resonate with anyone who has run Boston but has not broken the tape or left town with prize money in their pocket. And also with anyone who aspires to run Boston. Mark Sutcliffe has shown that anything is possible if you want it badly enough.
This book could have been called "Long Road to Hopkinton", as the author chronicles the drive, ambition and desire involved in getting to the start line of this iconic marathon. Getting to the finish line was icing on the cake.