Racing Past

The History of Middle and Long Distance Running

Racing Past Book Reviews


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Showdown at Shepherd's BushDavis, David

...I make this point about the focus so that those interested in this book will know what they?re getting. But I don?t want to discourage anyone from buying it. Showdown at Shepherd?s Bush is one of the best running books to appear so far in this century. Davis has clearly put years of work into research. He has consulted 24 archives and libraries and provides 17 pages of endnotes,10 pages of bibl...

Book Review: Bannister and BeyondDenison, Jim

...  Jim Denison, Associate Professor at the University of Alberta, finds it ?a strange omission of history? that ?few records or statements exist besides Bannister?s own literary account of 1955 of how it actually feels to break four minutes for the first time.? In this book, he aims to redress this omission by interviewing 21 four-minute milers. As well as getting detailed accounts of their firs...

Running: A Global HistoryGotaas, Thor

...Although there is some material on Jesse Owens and references to Wilma Rudolph and Usain Bolt, this book is about distance running. About a third of the book deals with running up to the first Olympic Games in 1896. In this part of the book, Gotaas?s training as a folklorist  comes through. He provides fascinating material from all over the world from the Pharaohs of Egypt to the monks of Japan...

Plimsolls On, Eyeballs Out: The Rise and Horrendous Fall of Marathon Legend Jim PetersHadgraft, Rob

...One obvious question arises from this incredible breakthrough: How did he do it? Hadgraft answers this question clearly and in detail. In a chapter entitled ?Goodbye to Proper Lunches? (Hadgraft likes zany titles like ?Jack Has Been Stalked!?), we learn how Peters and his coach Johnston dismissed the prevailing ?even-paced slow and steady running? prescription for marathon training that had bee...

The Landy EraJohnson, Len

...  In the first Olympics back in 1896, Australia began well when Edwin Flack won both the 800 and 1,500. But in the next 50 years, according to Johnson, ?virtually nothing happened.? The best that Australia did was to have one middle-distance finalist in each of the 1928, 1932 and 1936 Olympics--hardly the basis for an emerging middle-distance culture. However, what was promising was ?a flourish...

Conquerors of TimeMcConnell, Lynn

...The structure of this book is well conceived. With the two Olympics as the book-ends, Lynn McConnell fills the middle with chapters on Lovelock, Beccali, Cunningham, Bonthron, Wooderson and Venzke, each chapter focusing on a race in which these main characters competed. The races between the two Olympics heighten the interest in the big race to come, the Berlin 1,500. Before we get to his thoro...

55 Years RunningOxlade, Edwin

...  There must be lots of people in the British running community who know the name Edwin Oxlade. Not that he was a top-level runner. In fact, he was a good club runner with times of 49:52 for 10 Miles, 1:05:57 for a half Marathon and 2:24:24 for a Marathon. For a long time he was deeply involved with the UK club scene, and he has now decided to put all his memories and opinions into print. ? I l...

Four Million FootstepsTulloh, Bruce

...It became even tougher as he reached the desert: ?the run became a personal battle, with the sun as my enemy?. When things got bad I would think of green and peaceful England.? Still he managed to keep up his 40+ miles schedule for the next four days, walking much of the time. And he was confident that after two to three weeks, he would ?become adjusted to this continuous exertion? and be able ...