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Once a Runner: A Novel Paperback – May 1, 1999


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Editorial Reviews

Review

"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 clich, 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

From the Publisher

Truly a cult classic. Now in its 8th Printing!
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Cedarwinds (May 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0915297019
  • ISBN-13: 978-0915297016
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (337 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #704,531 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John L. Parker, Jr. has written for Outside, Runner's World, and numerous other publications. He was the Southeastern Conference mile champion three times, and the United States Track and Field Federation national champion in the steeplechase, and was the teammate of Olympians Frank Shorter, Jack Bacheler, and Jeff Galloway on several championship cross-country teams. A graduate of the University of Florida's College of Journalism as well as its College of Law, Parker has been a practicing attorney, a newspaper reporter and columnist, a speechwriter for then Governor Bob Graham, and editorial director of Running Times magazine. He lives in Gainesville, Florida, and Bar Harbor, Maine.

Customer Reviews

It is the story of Quenton Cassidy and his quest to explore his physical and psychological boundaries of running.
Michael DENNISUK
Some parts of the book dragged on for awhile and other parts seem to be irrelevant but as the story unfolds each detailed piece of information is important.
Walter T. Paczko
In Once a Runner, John L. Parker, Jr. masterfully captures the collegiate running experience while following his main character Quenton Cassidy.
Dave Anthold

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

312 of 336 people found the following review helpful By Andrew on September 30, 2004
Format: Paperback
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.

-Andrew
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63 of 74 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 8, 2000
Format: Paperback
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!
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Robert L. Murphy on May 9, 2005
Format: Paperback
If you were a high school or college distance runner in the 70s or 80s, as I was, Once A Runner will provoke waves of nostalgia. Every character in the book will ring true and remind you of someone. As a runner since 1977 and a high school track and cross country coach for the past ten years, I'm not sure how I missed this gem.

Quenton Cassidy ran 60 440s in 63. Of course this is "not the way to train" in the words of one Amazon reviewer. Other manifestations of obsession and committment are not for us mere mortals either. I wouldn't reccomend climbing Mt. Everest . It is not the way to train for 99.9% of us. That is because most of us couldn't come close to accomplishing it. Bruce Denton, Cassidy's mentor, knew what it was all about. "Look, runners deal in discomfort. After you get past a certain point, thats all there really is". When he had completed the workout, Cassidy had learned some very important things about himself - things most of us will die without learning - but for those few seeking what Bruce Denton and Quenton Cassidy are seeking, essential things to know.

Once A Runner is the most useful and inspiring book on runnning out there. If you are a serious runner, you will find reassurance here. Your obsession will be validated. Let's face it, obsession scares us these days. We think of it as unbalanced. We all seek to be "well rounded". We need all the mental ammunition we can get sometimes to get through that 6 AM 23 miler in the rain. I want to thank John L. Parker for helping me to embrace my obsession and renew my commitment.
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154 of 195 people found the following review helpful By Ppbp on May 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
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.
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47 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Joe-sph on August 14, 2005
Format: Paperback
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!"
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