John L. Parker, Jr.’s first novel, Once a Runner, is the cult novel for runners. Self-published in the late 1970s, and for years sold out of the trunk of the author’s car at running events, it went on to sell over 100,000 copies and achieve legendary status among runners.
It perfectly captured the intensity, relentlessness, and sheer lunacy of a serious miler’s life. Kenny Moore of Sports Illustrated—himself an Olympic runner—called it “by far the best fictional portrayal of the world of a serious runner . . . a marvelous description of the way it really is.”
For over twenty-five years, fans of Once a Runner have wanted more. Parker has finally written the sequel, which begins in the early 1970s where the previous book left off. The protagonist of the first book, Quenton Cassidy, has lost his best friend and teammate from college, a helicopter gunship pilot who dies a horrific death after crashing in the jungle. Cassidy is plunged into a depressive spiral in which he is forced to re-examine his studiously carefree life as a young, single attorney.
Cassidy’s return to the world of competitive running is dramatic and revelatory both to Cassidy himself and to the reader, as is his desperate, all-out attempt to make one last Olympic team.
John L. Parker, Jr. is the author of the highly acclaimed novel Once a Runner. He has written for Outside, Runner’s World, Running Times, and numerous other publications. He lives in Tallahassee, Florida, and Bar Harbor, Maine.