The Looniness Of The Long Distance Runner
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The Looniness of the Long Distance Runner is one comparatively unfit 39-year old Londoner's humorous account of his attempt to run the New York marathon from scratch. (He chose the pre-Thanksgiving race in the Big Apple to avoid adding to his ordeal by having to train during the British winter.) Inspired by the charity running of friends, Russell Taylor set himself the challenge of doing what Pheidippides first had done. But to spare himself the post-event trauma of trying to extract money from the reluctant grasp of his sponsors, he decided to write a book about his experiences and donate the royalties to charity instead. This book follows our intrepid road-runner from the treadmills of a north London gymnasium via his first tentative fun run to the mean streets of the Bronx, Queens and Manhattan. Along the way, we encounter indescribably tasteless isotonic drinks, sweaty singlets, sports injuries, personal bests, split times, anxious queuing for the public toilets and an unfeasibly large quantity of bananas. We also discover what lurks within the breast of the endurance athlete: an unreasonable hatred of his fellow runner (except the nubile females of the species), a contempt for the idiocy of stadium announcers and a strange fear of spectators who line the route inanely shouting "Keep Going!" by way of encouragement. The narrative is interspersed by jocular reviews of films about running - not least The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner - and a tongue-in-cheek description of the history of the marathon from its Ancient Greek origins to its modern-day revival as an Olympic event. Written with considerable panache and a self-deprecating sense of humour, this illuminating tale of obsessive and foolhardy sporting endeavour will make entertaining reading for (in descending order of athletic accomplishment) manic ultra-marathon runners, dedicated pavement pounders, occasional joggers and the simply curious alike.