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Once a Runner: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

John L. Parker Jr.
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (325 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.00
Kindle Price: $11.99
You Save: $4.01 (25%)
Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
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Book Description

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 book 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.


Editorial Reviews

Review

"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

From the Publisher

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

Product Details

  • File Size: 498 KB
  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; 1 Reprint edition (April 7, 2009)
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001NLKSRU
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #70,786 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
309 of 333 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure excellence, but with a disclaimer September 30, 2004
By Andrew
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
5.0 out of 5 stars The BEST book I've ever read! January 8, 2000
By A Customer
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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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a book every runner has to read July 1, 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I stoped running for over a year because of an serious back injury (from track)but then I came to the US as an exchange student and decided to go out for track again. My season didn't went very well, my times were way of the my PRs from home and i struggeled with injuries and asthma. in the middle of the season one guy from my distance team had the book in the bus to a meet and I started reading and took it home to finish....( I'm not a miler but still practiced with the distance team)This day, even I hadn't finished it yet, I ran my PR for this season and never felt better in a race. It didn't matter to me anymore if I would place or what my time would be. I just felt proud to be there and to do what I loved to do for many years but lately I didn't mean anything to me anymore. I ran for myself and not for the people watching.It motivated me so much that I finished the season although I was close to quit a lot of times.I don't know if I can ever run track competitive again but I'll always keep running. Every time I don't want to put on my shoes and go for my daily run I remember Quentin and his intervale workouts and that we have to work hard to get somewhere in life. Why not starting with something easy like actually getting up early and finishing the morning workout?.....for me this book changed my life...
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152 of 191 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not what I hoped. May 8, 2009
By Ppbp
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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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How Did I Miss This? 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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Love this book. Read it when I need to get inspired again.
Published 7 days ago by keegan williams
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book about running. Period.
The absolute best book about running. Ever. This book was out of print for so long, and I remember passing an old weathered copy of it around the cross team. Every word is poetry. Read more
Published 8 days ago by CrossRunner
5.0 out of 5 stars Exciting
Even though I'm not a runner, this tale was enthralling! The descriptive prose was marvelous and enchanting. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Published 10 days ago by Lisa
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
good short read
Published 10 days ago by Amanda Huston
5.0 out of 5 stars Best fiction running book.
Best fiction running book. A very inspiring and well written running book. It makes you want to run everyday. Thanks.
Published 11 days ago by Alex Brown
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing story
Not being a runner or even much of an athlete myself I suppose I've never experienced any of what it means to work so hard to achieve something so difficult. Read more
Published 12 days ago by Sheila G.
4.0 out of 5 stars Great race descriptions
Enjoyed the training and race descriptions very much. Thought that Cassidy's suspension was a somewhat contrived plot device. Read more
Published 21 days ago by MDSSTL
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome All-time Classic!
Awesome Classic, especially for a serious runner like myself!
Published 1 month ago by Scott Bang
4.0 out of 5 stars a runners book
Enjoyed the book because I run.
The story would not flow unless you feel the emotion of the character. The ending was good, even if it was predictable. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Terry Bray
5.0 out of 5 stars Real Runners Only
If you are real runner this is the best book ever written
Published 2 months ago by Tort Lawyer
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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.

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New edition
Looks like it is not coming out now until next year. I tried ordering it used on amazon when one seller dropped their price, but then received a note saying they were out of stock. I think they just took it off and jacked their price up. Oh well, their market will dry up next year.
Sep 12, 2008 by R. Phelps |  See all 3 posts
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