The young man could see dim figures on the track even in this pale light, slowly pounding round and round the most infinite of footpaths. There would be, he knew, plump, determined-looking women slogging along while fleshy knees quivered. They would occasionally brush damp hair fiercely from their eyes and dream of certain cruel and smiling emcees: bikinis, ribbon-cuttings, and the like. And then, of course, tennis with white-toothed males, wild tangos in the moonlight.
And men too of various ages and levels of dilapidation, perhaps also grinding out secret fantasies (did they picture themselves a Peter Snell held back only by fat or fear as they turned their ninety-second quarters?).
The young man stood outside the fence for a few moments while moths attacked the streetlight dustily, leaving him in a dim spotlight of swirling shadows. He loved early fall in Florida’s Panhandle. Leaves would be turning elsewhere but here the hot breath of summer held forth. In the moist warmth there was a slight edge, though, a faint promise of cooler air hanging in the treetops and close to the Spanish moss. He picked up his small travel bag and went in the gate, walking clockwise on the track toward the white starting post at the head of the first turn. The joggers ignored the stranger in street clothes and he likewise paid them no attention. They would always be there.
The high-jump pit had been rearranged, a new section of bleachers added, a water jump installed for the steeplechase. But mostly it looked the same as it did four years ago, the same as a four-hundred-and-forty-yard oval probably will always look to one who knows a quarter of a mile by the inches.
The Games were over for this time around. He knew quite well that for him they were over for good. Four years is a very long time in some circles; in actual time—real-world time, as that of shopkeepers, insurance sellers, compounders of interest, and so on—it is perhaps not long at all. But in his own mind Time reposed in peculiar receptacles; to him the passing of one minute took on all manner of rare meaning. A minute was one fourth of a four-minute mile, a coffee spoon of his days and ways.
As with many of the others, he had no idea what he would be doing now that it was all over. It was such a demanding thing, so final, so cathartic, that most of them simply never thought beyond it. They were scattered around the world now, he supposed, doing pretty much what he was doing at this moment: thinking everything over, tallying gains and losses.
He was going to have to pick up the thread of a normal life again and although he did not exactly know why, he had to start by coming back here, back to the greenhouse warmth of the Panhandle, back to this very quarter-mile oval that still held his long-dried sweat. Back to September, the month of promises.
He put his bag down by the pole-vault pit, looked uptrack to make sure no one was coming, and then walked up to the starting line. God, he thought, one more time on the line.
In lane one he stood very still, looking down at his street shoes (joggers now going around him with curious glances) and tried to conjure up the feeling. After a moment a trace of it came to him and he knew that was all there would be. You can remember it, he told himself, but you cannot experience it again like this. You have to be satisfied with the shadows. Then he thought about how it was in the second and third laps and decided that the shadows were sometimes quite enough.
He was twenty-six years, five months, and two days old, and though as he stood there on the starting line he felt quite a bit older than that, the muscles that rippled up and down inside his trouser leg could have only been the result, biologically speaking, of more thousands of miles than he cared to think about all at one time.
He tried to focus blurred emotions, a metaphysical photographer zeroing in on hard edges to align in the center square. What was this he was feeling now, nostalgia? Regret? His mind double-clutched, asked the musical question: Am…I…buhloooo?
He could not tell. He realized again how adept he had become at not being able to tell such things. His emotions had calluses like feet.
The starter would tell them to stand tall, so he stood tall for a moment there in the night. There would be the set command and then the gun. He took a deep breath and began walking into the turn in the familiar counterclockwise direction, the way of all races, and thought: the first lap is lost in a flash of adrenaline and pounding hooves…
Revue de presse
“Part training manual, part religious tract, part love story, and all about running, Once a Runner is so inspiring it could be banned as a performance-enhancing drug.” —Benjamin Cheever, author of Strides
“By far the most accurate fictional portrayal of the world of the serious runner…a marvelous description of the way it really is.” —Kenny Moore, Sports Illustrated
“The best piece of running fiction around. Beg, borrow, or buy a copy, and you’ll never need another motivator.” —Dave Langlais, Runner’s World
"The best novel ever written about running."--Runner's World
Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)
326 internautes sur 352 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
Pure excellence, but with a disclaimer30 septembre 2004
- Publié sur Amazon.com
There are 87 other reviews here, so all I will do is offer the following breakdown for people interested in buying this book. Put yourself in one of these categories:
a) Competative runners: this is an increadible book, period. The best part about it is reading about a little tiny nuance in Quenton's running life and saying to yourself, "I know exactly what he's talking about, wow", which will happen literally hundreds of times. Your hopefully already-substantial appreciation for the sport will likely increase tenfold with this book.
b) The casual runner, recreational, or other athlete: this is an excellent book and is very highly reccomended. You probably will not appreciate it to it's fullest extent, but there are aspects of the story and how it is told that will be enjoyed by anyone with the capacity for excitement from sports or human physical endeavors.
c) The non-athlete: this book may not make sense to you. Not in the literary sense, but it may seem as though there is little direction in the story, and you might read it and then find yourself thinking that nothing interesting really happened, and you are not really to blame for this. There is still a good chance that you will find it enjoyable, but if you are looking for a piece of literature based on traditional merits (plot, character development, etc) there are likely better books out there for you to spend time on.
Clearly I thought this book was one of the best I've ever read. However, I hope this breakdown about who in particular might enjoy it the most was helpful.
66 internautes sur 77 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
The BEST book I've ever read!9 janvier 2000
- Publié sur Amazon.com
I'm a sophomore in highschool and I'm also a extremely dedicated cross-country and track runner. This book has changed my life! The inspirational story of Quenton Cassidy's runner career left me breathless! The first chapter gave me goose-bumps because it decribed the start of a race perfectly. I read chapters from the book every night before a big race. Reading about Cassidy's determination gives any runner a boost. This book has to have the most accurate description of a runners mentality ever written. This is the best book about running I've ever read!
49 internautes sur 60 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
Just wail on15 août 2005
- Publié sur Amazon.com
The book was great, easily one of the best I've ever read. The only times I ever put it down were to eat, sleep and run. There was one quote from Cassidy that i feel sums up the book, the main character, and competative running. I don't know how some one can read this and not be in the mood to run. "It's a simple choice: We can all be good boys and wear our letter sweaters around and get our little degrees and find some nice girl to settle, you know, down, with...take up what a friend of ours calls the hearty challenges of lawn care...Or we can blaze! Become legends in our own time, strike fear in the heart of mediocre talent everywhere! We can scald dogs, put records out of reach! Make the stands gasp as we blow into an unearthly kick from three hundred yards out! We can become God's own messenger delivering the dreaded scrolls! We can race dark Satan himself till he wheezes fiery cinders down the back straightaway! They'll speak our names in hushed tones, 'Those guys are animals' they'll say! We can lay it on the line, bust a gut, show them a pair of clean heels. We can sprint the turn on a spring breeze and feel the winter leave our feet. We can, by God, let our demons loose and just wail on!"
37 internautes sur 45 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
The Gold Standard25 novembre 2002
- Publié sur Amazon.com
Once a Runner is the best running book I have ever read. Unlike training guides or running stories that spend far too much time explaining the beauty of running and trying to introduce people to the wonders of jogging around, Once A Runner really goes into the life and mind of a runner (though the book uses fictional characters, they are easily recognizable and realistic). It describes the dedication, hard work, and goofiness that is required to be successful and what makes runners a very unique, though cetainly interesting breed. The story itself, of a young college-aged runner and his quest to run the fastest mile he could while in school and after he got kicked out, is extremely well paced and smootly written, just as a good race. It is a fantastic book and I would highly recommend it for beginners, enthusiasts, or someone who just needs a little motivation.
159 internautes sur 204 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
If you're thinking of buying this book because you like to run and think it will be about the love of running or anything even remotely like that, don't bother. I'm 38 and have run throughout my adult years after I stopped smoking in my 20's. Running has always represented so many different things to me - about goal setting, accomplishing what I thought wasn't possible, and about the meditative nature of the journey of the long run and being alone with my thoughts while purifying my body.
This isn't a book about any of that. This is a book about the elite runner and the near-mythic life they lead and the select group of running gods they surround themselves with (poorly written in a high-school-and-college-were-the-best-years-of-my-life kind of way replete with fraternal shenanigans and the smugness of the naturally gifted). People like me are dismissed in the first chapter as pathetic specimens using running to achieve some other ends that people like the author just can't comprehend.
I'm not knocking all of the work these elite athletes do, and realize it's not all just handed to them, but the tone of this book is just off. Instead of opening up that world and exploring, this book just has the feel of exclusion and exclusiveness. I'm definitely not inspired.