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A Race Like No Other: 26.2 Miles Through the Streets of New York Paperback – September 22, 2009

4.4 out of 5 stars 43 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

New York Times sportswriter Robbins captures the world's ultimate marathon, the New York City race. Set during the 2007 marathon, the narrative follows several runners: male and female professional runners with more at stake than prize money (a recovering alcoholic trying to mend her family; a cancer survivor running his first marathon; a 67-year-old grandmother on her 12th New York marathon) as they make their way through the city's five boroughs. Robbins's journalist's eye is thorough as she intersperses stories of wheelchair athletes, volunteers, spectators and even the city workers who paint the course markers. Those who've read Fred Lebow's Inside the World of Big-Time Marathoning or Ron Rubin's book on the New York City marathon, Anything for a T-shirt, will appreciate the varied voices here. Using each mile to structure the 26.2 chapters, Robbins allows readers to experience the event without ever putting on a pair of running shoes. (Oct. 7)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Robbins, who covers sports for the New York Times, offers a vivid, winning portrait of the New York City Marathon, now the largest in the world with nearly 40,000 participants. “It’s like a Cecil B. DeMille movie because it’s on such a huge, epic scale,” said one former winner. Taking the 2007 race mile by mile, Robbins profiles each of the principal elite runners, including their training regimens and personal stories; describes each mile’s particular features; limns a large cast of supporting characters, from an aid-station volunteer to a gospel choir that performs inspirational music for the marathoners on the eighth mile; and gives a good overview of how the event is organized. Along the way, Robbins conveys an intimate sense of the physical demands the race places on the body, all the while building suspense—though we know the winners—that’s the equal of a good action movie. A quality piece of journalism from start to finish. --Alan Moores --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (September 22, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061373141
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061373145
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #236,471 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Thomas Howard on November 12, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I just returned home from running the NY Marathon. I am so glad that I read this book just before running. It is outstanding. I saw several of the various characters in the book, especially the accordian player in Queens, and felt like I knew him.

I would recommend this book to anyone, runner and non-runner alike. Hugely readable and very informative.
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I loved this book! Liz Robbins' narrative chronicles the 2007 NYC Marathon with fact and anecdote filled chapters for each mile as the runners travel through all five boroughs of NYC and over the finish line; she does indeed manages to transport you inside the race and capture the sprit of the event that makes it A RACE LIKE NO OTHER. Perhaps it will even inspire some of the many readers that this book deserves who believe that the challenge of completing a marathon is too daunting to change minds and undertake the training required to attempt running one. It certainly will delight those who have participated and inform the millions who as spectators have cheered on the runners along the course or watched it on television in their living rooms.

Before I proceed further with my enthusiastic review, I do need to offer a disclaimer. At the suggestion of the race organizers, I was one of the myriad of individuals who the author interviewed during her extensive research for this book. I am an individual who had no exhibited no previous athletic aptitude before starting to exercise after passing my thirtieth birthday during the 1970's. But my current reputation as a 65 year old streaker intrigued her, and she chronicles part of my journey as I complete this event for the 32nd consecutive year. Thus, my story is one of the many of those of us who revel in our chance to become athletes for a day.
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It was entertaining and engaging with the various runner stories but I was looking for a more in depth look at the course itself so wasn't exactly what I was expecting. I purchased both the Kindle and Audible versions and it was nice to bounce back and forth as I was able to listen and keep going with the book at times I wasn't able to actually read - like when I was running :)
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The book is well written but somewhat too ambitious. It tried to capture the stories of too many people, leaving too big a gap in between each story. I found myself flipping forward just to see what happened to Paula.
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I ran my first NYC Marathon this past year, the first of what I hope to be many, following my dad who had done it a few times when I was a child. A Race Like No Other captures the experience, from Staten Island though the finish line in Central Park (right down to the frustration of trying to get OUT of the park once the race is over!). The writing moves back and forth across several stories that are being told simultaneously, keeping you interested as the miles go by. The stories cover elite pro's to recreational runners to those who are running for a higher purpose. You will find yourself caring about each of the individuals described. What came through really beautifully and what is not really appreciated by those outside the sport, is the spirit of sportsmanship and sportswomanship that is so central to the sport. Particularly compelling as regards the elite athletes is the description of the battle between Paula and Wami for the woman's win, but it is framed against Paula's baby daughter being held by Wami's husband before the race, and being held by Wami herself after the race. This conjured up images of the great Grete Waitz, who lost first place in the olympic marathon, only to become Godmother to the son of her rival. In what other sport will you see this kind of class, honor, and mutual respect, particularly when prize money and endorsement deals etc. are on the line? A Race Like No Other set out to capture the spirit of the NYC Marathon, and succeeds.
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The author does a good job of profiling a wide range of runners: professionals from Kenya and England; older grandmas; cancer survivors; run of the mill middle aged; former substance abusers, etc.

I take one star off because there is no negative or critical angle. It is all positive description, no critique no downsides given.
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If I wasn't planning on running the NYC Marathon, this book would be pretty boring. It's Okay, and gives you a tiny glimpse into what each mile will entail. Some of the history included is interesting.
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By Ryun on August 15, 2010
Format: Paperback
I run marathons, along with those in my running club. Of all the books on what happens behind the efforts and determination of the individual runner, this book is so detailed in how a marathon on the magnitude of the the NYC marathon is done, I find it amazing that the author was able to succeed in her script with such success. I now know why it is so difficult to win a lottery position in the NYC - there are only 8,000 positions available for USA citizens (excluding those that are obtained via raising charity funds). If you run any marathons, or are a runner interested in the details of a marathon - this is the book. Along with the details of how the marathon is organized, the author took one race and went behind the scenes of the lives of not only the top runners but the average person: why they are runners, why they wanted to run the NYC. Such a good book, I have read it twice.
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