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26 Miles to Boston: The Boston Marathon Experience from Hopkinton to Copley Square Paperback – March 1, 2003

4.1 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"26 MILES TO BOSTON offers a unique look at the event and what it means to runners and the Boston community as it has never before been chronicled."
--Boston Athletic Association

"26 MILES TO BOSTON puts you in the race. Through each chapter, mile after mile, my imagery and heart rate moved along the Boston Marathon course as if I were actually back on it."
--Jean Driscoll, Seven-Time Women's Wheelchair Champion

From the Back Cover

26 Miles to Boston is a colorful and moving portrait of what it feels like to run the Boston Marathon - and it puts readers squarely into the running shoes of anyone who has attempted the world's most prestigious long-distance race.
From the suburban town of Hopkinton to the center of metropolitan Boston, here are the mile-by-mile sights and sounds that confront the runners, and firsthand accounts - including the author's - of the pain and exhaustion they endure as they battle both the elements and the course's demanding terrain.
Here also is a rich and inspiring history of the marathon and of the men and women of varying skills and abilities whose own struggles, small victories, and personal triumphs have colored this magnificent event.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Lyons Press; 1st edition (March 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585748285
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585748280
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,224,547 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Christopher C. Smith on December 1, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I read this book as someone looking forward to doing his first Boston Marathon (20th overall) next April. I can't imagine a better introduction to subject. It is rich in history, anecdote and illustration. And its mile by mile "feel" for the course brings the event alive. I suspect it is the closest thing to a definitive book on the subject. But particularly I want to address the criticism (in one of these reviews) that it is written by a participant who didn't qualify for the event -- i.e., a "bandit." I agree (with the critic) that achieving a qualifying time is an important part of the experience. Doing a 3:42 marathon in Portland (Ore.), after my most diligent training ever, brought me my greatest thrill as a runner (at age 65!). But as a first-time marathoner, Michael Connelly conveys a delightful naivete and sense of wonder that by definition a "qualifying" marathoner couldn't. I found myself particularly looking forward to the italicized paragraphs begun with his initials "MPC:". Secondly, whether the Boston Athletic Association or any of the official runners likes it or not, "bandits" constitute a regular part of the landscape. It seems significant that the BAA, on the book's jacket, offers an endorsement of "26 Miles to Boston." One more thought: Three-time winner Uta Pippig of Germany, quoted throughout, comes across as such a classy, wonderful athlete and human being that her spirit ought to be bottled.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The author ran the race as a "bandit", a fact that you don't discover until you buy the book (it is not stated anywhere on the book cover, reviews, etc.) In fact, Amazon states: "About the Author ...MICHAEL CONNELLY competed in the 1996 Boston marathon." This is simply a false statement. Legitimately qualifying for Boston is an integral part of competing, and the author did not do that. He did not "compete" in the Boston marathon any more than I "competed" in the U.S. Open by playing golf as a tourist at Pebble Beach (a frequent U.S. Open site). This taints the entire book and made me (as someone who has legitimately qualified for Boston) feel cheated (I am going to request a refund from Amazon on the basis of false advertising).

Now, I recognize that the BAA has more or less allowed bandits to run the course over the years. As such, it might not have been that bad if the author had simply stated something along the following lines: he respects the talent and effort it takes to qualify and he recognizes that, since he has not done so, his participation is not the same as a legitimate qualifier, but he is nevertheless giving his experiences as a first time marathoner, not as someone who has properly trained and qualified for Boston. But, the author makes no such statement.

In fact, the author berates Marty Liquori for suggesting that bandits should not be allowed to run. Here's an excerpt from the book (p. 43):

"Listen Marty, you're our guest. So mind your manners, pick up your check, and watch the race. When I cross that finish line some twenty-six miles down the road, not with a number but with the storied history of the Boston Marathon in my blood, then I will consider myself qualified!
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I just ran the 114th Boston Marathon, and I can tell you that my experience was much enriched by having read this book.

The author takes you through the course mile by mile - talking through the landmarks, history and even technical discussions of the course itself. I have to say that after reading the book, I felt even more honored to participate in the race (and a little nervous). The author does a wonderful job of capturing how this just isn't a race, it's an event that stretches through over a century of history - not only of the course, but of distance running itself.

Reading it before hand, made the course more alive and familiar to me while I ran it. Recognizing the landmarks and knowing the history behind each one gave me something to look forward to each mile (and in the later miles keep my mind off the suffering). And finally, it gave me a sense for the spirit of the event itself and the personal stories that are inextricably linked each year to it.

I did read a few reviews that admonished the author for running as a bandit, I respect that perspective and don't condone bandit'ing the race.

However, the author's real value in this book isn't his running prowess (as he readily admits time and time again). Rather, it's the hard work and research he obviously invested to bring all of this history to the reader. I can't think of a better way to personalize the 'data' than to relate it to an actual running of the course. True, it would be ideal if the author was also an elite runner who had qualified - but barring that intersection, I think it would have been a shame to not have this author share his research in the way that he did. That's what I believe the review should be rated on.

Hope you found this helpful. I strongly recommend this book and think it should almost be a required reading for anyone signing up to run Boston.

You'll be happy you read it!

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Format: Paperback
A quick read. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, especially historical happenings during the Boston Marathon races on a mile by mile basis. I wish I would have purchased and read the book prior to running this race, (twice)=D
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