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The Long Run: A New York City Firefighter's Triumphant Comeback from Crash Victim to Elite Athlete Paperback – August 16, 2011

4.7 out of 5 stars 166 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

When Long, a New York City firefighter with East Harlem's Ladder Company 43, was crushed by a bus while riding his bike to work one winter's day, he was transformed from a man who ran marathons to a man who might never walk again. Having recently completed the 2005 New York City Marathon, in just over three hours, Long was training for Boston. "Each day I was up and out, sometimes early, sometimes late, but always looking for something new to do. And one more finish line to cross." After the accident, and a prognosis he didn't want to hear (a slim margin for survival; likely paralysis), Long endured 40 operations and spent five months in the hospital, never taking his mind off the finish line at the end of the 2008 NYC Marathon. Completing the marathon after his recovery at 42 years of age was a major accomplishment, and it motivated him to begin speaking publicly, and to create the "I Will" foundation to help people recover from traumatic life-altering illnesses or injuries. Like Long himself, his memoir is full of the heartfelt can-do attitude sure to appeal to the Iron Man in everyone.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Three days before Christmas in 2005 New York City was embroiled in a bitter transit strike. So firefighter Long decided to ride his bicycle to work. A charter bus, making an illegal turn, collided with him, pulling him under the bus and inflicting injuries that nearly killed him on the spot. He survived, and made a slow and extremely painful recovery (although he’ll never have the same range of motion and physical abilities as he once did). This memoir, cowritten with an editor at Runner’s World, focuses on two key elements: Long’s physical recovery (dozens of surgeries to repair massive internal injuries) and his psychological recovery (as the firefighter, marathon runner, and Ironman competitor came to terms with the knowledge that he’d likely never work or compete again). The book ends on a high note: Long has brought himself back farther than anyone thought he could. But it’s the journey that’s important. The book is open and honest—at times, almost painfully so—and readers will be horrified by Long’s ordeal and inspired by his determination to get back as much of himself as he could. --David Pitt --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Rodale Books; Reprint edition (August 16, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1609611799
  • ISBN-13: 978-1609611798
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (166 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #412,823 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By John-something VINE VOICE on April 21, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I have been cycling thousands of miles per year for over twenty years and was never hit; then on October 2, 2010 I was hit sideways by a car in a crosswalk. I waited for the light, and managed to pass two stopped cars, while in the crosswalk, assuming I couldn't be safer, and the car came through their red light faster than they could possibly stopped in time, destroying my racing bike and both knees. On top of that, I had just finished my first full week of work at a new job, and then all of the sudden I was disabled--disabled from work, cycling, and all other normal activities.

My muscles atrophied, I gained a hell of a lot of weight, and most importantly for me I couldn't (still can't) enjoy the many benefits of being a lifelong endurance athlete. Quite literally, when I have a bit of trouble getting to sleep at night, I think my way through a day of bicycle riding, from preparation to the post ride beer.

So of course I needed a bit of help. I knew (know) I would be OK in a year, but in the meantime I'm pretty sure I will have lost my job or maybe even my career. And this book responded to those conflicting thoughts of motivation and doom rather well.

Matt Long was injured far worse that I was (am). He was run over by a bus. So while modern medicine and surgical procedures are miraculously good, it really takes the difference in the individual to change someone like me from being disabled for life, and driven to do the work necessary to a full recovery. This book will help anyone in a similar situation because Matt Long is one such individual and reading his story will help you with your own comeback.

And that's the way I think of it. I'm going to do a major comeback, a Lance Armstrong, and a Matt Long in getting back to doing the things I love to do most.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The next time you think you're having a bad run, think about Matt Long.

Matt Long was a New York Firefighter, a 9/11 responder, and a Boston Marathon qualifier when he was hit on his bike by a corporate shuttle bus making an illegal turn during an illegal transit workers strike. He went from being in the best shape of his life to a 5% chance of living, having been literally torn open as the bus ran him over and dragged him and his bike, ramming his seat post up through his body and crushing his pelvis.

Through the heroic efforts of surgeons, doctors, and nurses, he lived, but that was only the beginning of his struggle. He had to learn to walk again, a goal that many physical therapists told him was noble but unattainable. He didn't give up, finding therapists who believed that his competitive nature and his peak physical fitness at the time of the accident gave him an excellent chance of not only walking again, but running another marathon. Most remarkable, I think, is the amazing family of New York's Bravest who stand beside any of their comrades no matter if they were hurt on or off the job. I wonder if Matt would have been able to survive and recover without their support. He talks only briefly about his experience on 9/11, and only to give the context for some of the firefighters helping him recover and for the motivation he had to do right by the 343 firefighters and paramedics who gave their lives that day (a number he wrote on his arm as he competed).

Most of the book is about his recovery, which was slow and ponderous at times. Matt doesn't skimp on the medical details of his injuries or recovery.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I like a good, inspiring story to remind myself not to take things for granted. Despite interviews I had seen with Long, this really wasn't it. He seemed obsessed with telling the reader how awesome he was before the accident and how everyone just loves him. Really, though, he seems like a jerk most of the time. For example, we have all seen or known able-bodied people who will borrow an elderly relative's car and take advantage of the handicap parking tags. When Long is pulled over for driving with a handicap tag and having a racing bike on the car, instead of saying that he has a disability that makes it difficult for him to walk but still allows him to ride, he yells at the cop and acts very smug in telling the story. He spends so much time telling everyone how wonderful he is that he never talks about the journey. In one chapter, he can't lift his arm over his head, but in the next he is doing 200 chinups. It was just really bad story telling.
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I bought this book after reading a chapter published in Runners' World. That chapter made me believe that the book was about Matt Long's recovery from his accident, but it is not.

The book is well written, but poorly constructed. What I mean is that far too much of the book is the author recounting his childhood, his bars, his girlfriends, his lifestyle, and his family. These topics add something to the book, but could have been cut by 60%.

The book also spends very little time talking about his recovery. The reader jumps from his running a mile to his running a marathon, with little in between about how he trained. He then throws in a brief story of a triathlon as a kind of dessert. I'm sure Mr Long is an excellent athlete, but I was hoping for a book more about running and less about how he tries to be the life of the party.

The book is easy to read and is an interesting story, but it can be repetitive. I learned nothing about being a better athlete myself, and the inspiration I gained from the book I gained from the chapter published in the magazine. I'd like to sit down with the author over a beer, but not over the book.
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