Once A Runner by John L. Parker, JR. is a fiction about a talented college Mile runner, Quenton Cassidy, and his becoming a world-class Miler in a rather accelerated fashion. The book cover quips ‘The best novel about running ever written. – RUNNER’S WORLD’. Though there are some moments that I was drawn into his training and racing, I disagree with the above-mentioned praise.
First of all, his vast improvement in his mile time over a short period of time seems unlikely. He was a good miler at 4:00.3 before he started working with Bruce Denton. Within less than a year after working with Denton, he clocked 3:52.5. I am no miler, but eight seconds is a huge improvement for runners at his level, and no matter how young and talented he was, I think it is too much (I could be wrong).
Secondly, I wish the author had Cassidy run more races instead of depicting characters that do not have major contribution to the story or talking about how tired Cassidy was after his training and meets. I enjoyed the parts where Cassidy went through hard training and raced against John Walton. Those parts really gave readers excitement and feel for what great runners go through. I think the author could not schedule any more meets or races during that short period of time.
Finally, the ending is not satisfactory after such a huge accomplishment. There is a big lapse of time between the big race and the ending, during which Cassidy apparently competed in the Olympics and won a silver medal. His quest to the Olympics and the process of getting the silver medal might have been an exciting and interesting story, but the author totally ditched it.
Overall, it is not a bad book. There are parts that kept me turning pages and characters are interesting. But for the reasons mentioned above, I hope this is the best novel about running ever written.[schema type=”book” url=”http://www.amazon.com/Once-Runner-John-Parker-Jr-ebook/dp/B001NLKSRU/” name=”Once A Runner” author=”John L. Parker Jr.” publisher=”Scribner” pubdate=”2009-03-12″ ]