Originally self-published in 1978 and now in hardcover for the first time, Once a Runner is by far the most accurate fictional portrayal of the world of the serious runner... a marvelous description of the way it really is.
Once a Runner captures the essence of what it means to be a competitive runner, to devote your entire existence to a single-minded pursuit of excellence. It has become one of the most beloved sports novels ever written. Originally self-published in 1978 and sold at road races out of the trunk of the author's car, the book eventually found its way into the hands of high school, college, and postgraduate athletes all over the country. Reading it became a rite of passage on many teams, and tattered copies were handed down like sacred texts from generation to generation. It ranked as the number one most sought-after out-of-print books in the United States in 2007.
Once a Runner is the story of Quenton Cassidy, a collegiate runner at fictional Southeastern University whose lifelong dream is to run a four-minute mile. He is less than a second away when the political and cultural turmoil of the Vietnam War era intrudes into the staid recesses of his school's athletic department. After he becomes involved in an athletes' protest, Cassidy is suspended from his track team. Under the tutelage of his friend and mentor, Bruce Denton, a graduate student and former Olympic gold medalist, Cassidy gives up his scholarship, his girlfriend, and possibly his future to withdraw to a monastic retreat in the countryside and begin training for the race of his life: a head-to-head match with the greatest miler in history. This book is a rare insider's account of the incredibly intense lives of elite distance runners; an inspiring, funny, and spot-on tale of one man's quest to become a champion.
2010, paperback, 304 pages.
"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, of Sports Illustrated
"I hate to use a cliche, but I couldn't put it down." -- Joe Henderson, Runner's World
"I'm jealous. This is very close to the kind of book I've wanted to write for years... Parker has shown an ability to find that vein that runners have within them, and write about it better than anyone ever has." -- Don Kardong, of Runner's World
"I've read Once a Runner ' six times and still enjoy it immensely. It continues to renew my heart to 'go after the fire, not the smoke." -- J.A. Sandoz, Olympia, WA
"My 17-year-old son was transfixed with Once a Runner '..." -- Jon Boon, Columbia, MD
"Perhaps the best novel ever written about running. There are parts of Once a Runner that are pure poetry. I have never read descriptions of what it is to run and race as accurate and compelling as Parker's." -- Tom Jordan, Track & Field News
"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
"There is a remarkable parallel between the pacing of this novel and a well-run race." -- Ed Ayres, Running Times
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