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Running All the Way: A Marine, a Runner, a Journey through Life (Full Color Edition) Paperback – November 3, 2013
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About the Author
Larry Dickerson holds a BS degree in Journalism from Northwestern University. As a Marine Corps combat correspondent in Korea, he wrote articles that were published in military and civilian publications. He is retired from Lockheed Martin Corporation and the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve. Larry has competed in more than 1,300 track and road races while running in all 50 of the United States.
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By: Douglas L. Kincaid, Sr. (Fayetteville, WV) December 8, 2013
I grew up in Kincaid, West Virginia which is about ten miles north of Oak Hill, West Virginia, the town that Lawrence Dickerson writes about in his book, Running All the Way. Larry was a 1950 graduate of Oak Hill High School and I graduated there seven years later in 1957.
This book brings back vivid memories of Oak Hill, WV in the 1950's and the teachers and coaches at Oak Hill High School. Larry talks about Shirley Thomas, Zella Bishop and Coaches Bill Moore and John Duda, all who were still there when I went to high school in Oak Hill. I too have those same memories of a great school that Larry describes in his wonderful book.
It is hard to explain how we West Virginians feel about our state; when we meet another West Virginian, no matter where we've traveled, it's as if both of us have come back to the hills. It's in our hearts! Larry has truly captured this spirit throughout his entire book.
Dickerson writes with a unique ability to express his life as a Marine and a life of running; about his dreams of succeeding in life from a Private to a Colonel in his beloved Marine Corps. It's the kind of territory where you expect to find the same old war stories from prior authors, but none of that is present due to the blazing speed of his brief chapters. The author wastes no time in leading you from chapter to chapter. Most chapters are no more than two or three pages. Each chapter reads like a compressed novel; a form that grabbed my interest quickly.
Growing up in Oak Hill, WV., Larry ran wherever he went. He ran to and from school. He ran on the football and track teams. He ran to and from Scarbro, WV. visiting girlfriends. He has continued to run his entire life. It is his therapy.
Larry is now a retired Marine Colonel, Reserves. He has just completed his bucket list of running in a race in all fifty states by running in the Snow City 5K in Anchorage, Alaska on Sunday, the 18th. of August 2013. He was the first and only finisher in the 80+ age group. Larry has now run more than 1,300 races while serving in the U. S. Marine Corps, graduating from Northwestern University and working forty years in corporate management, all the while running.
Larry leads you through his life's journey, page by page, chapter by chapter. The book is very readable as the action never lags and this reader was kept eagerly turning the pages. I highly recommend, Running All the Way.
Up front, let me say I am not a runner. Having done my share during 22 years in the Marine Corps I now feel that anything that might now cause me to run may have at it!
That said, I found Running All The Way by an old comrade-in-arms to be something much more than a how-to on rapidly putting one foot in front of the other. While Larry Dickerson has managed, beyond my comprehension, to compete in marathons or running events in all 50 states, this is really a book on growing up during the great Depression in the West Virginia coalfields and then finding himself as a United States Marine.
Like many of us in those days, Larry probably never heard the word impoverished. Like many of us who wanted to do and see things that cost money, he did find it necessary to develop an early work ethic. As he takes us through early financial travails of having to sell apples from his family's orchard in order to see movies; his paper route, and at the advent of World War II, working for Western Union and delivering the dreaded, but necessary telegrams, we couldn't help compare his upbringing with our own. Perhaps this is why we started reading this 175 page tome one evening and could not put it down until it was finished about 12 hours later. The book mirrored many of our own growing up experiences in Northwestern Pennsylvania; definitely a reminder of what life was really like in those pre-World War II days.
His decision for military service after high school graduation was, as he says: "partly an economic decision: military service offered a pay check." Korea had reared its ugly head and, perhaps that made his decision easier. In any event, he and several other Oak Hill pals made it together. He would become a Marine - and a man - a few short months later.
Our convergence began when he graduated from "boot" camp at Parris Island and, because of journalistic endeavors in high school, joined me in the Informational Services Office at Parris Island. I had about eight months seniority on him which enabled me to tab him with the early moniker: "Little Dicker," probably because he was shorter than I. Ironically, we last saw each other in mid-1951.
As a newly minted corporal I received orders as a combat correspondent to Korea with the 1st Marine Division in May 1951. "Dicker" would follow about a year later. As I was returning from what had been the coldest experience of my life, he was arriving. He too would serve as a combat correspondent. His tour was cut a bit short, however, as he had put in for an enlisted commissioning program before ordered to Korea.
He would become a second lieutenant of Marines and serve until the Korean conflict ended then enter the Marine Corps Reserve enabling him to achieve his ambition of getting a college education. He did this, and more, in spades; getting his degree from Northwestern University and, years later, achieving the rank of colonel and retiring from the Marine Corps. He would also enjoy success in the corporate world.
Along the way he married, sired three children, and developed a severe "hunger" for competitive running to break, as he says, a 20-year smoking habit. In this fascinating read you follow his progress beginning when he laced up his waffle-soled Nike's in 1978 and ventured into the realm of marathon running to his ultimate quest of running in all 50 United States.
After competing in various qualifying marathons, Dickerson made it to the "big dance," the Boston Marathon. At age 53, and on Patriot's day in 1984, he ran it in 3:21:33 becoming the 2,000th finisher in the 88th Boston Marathon.
As the years rolled on he developed his 50-state race "bucket list" and, on August 18, 2013 in Anchorage, AK, in one of his most fulfilling events, he joined his son in running the Snow City 5K run; winning it in his 80+ age group!
The book's forward, attributed to Sir Roger Bannister, could be a testimonial to the running life of this Marine:
"Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn't matter whether you're a lion or gazelle - when the sun comes up, you'd better be running."
...and so my old friend, Marine Colonel Larry Dickerson, did.
(Jack T. Paxton is a retired Marine "mustang" captain. He is currently executive director of the United States Marine Corps Combat Correspondents Association. He lives with his wife, Pat, in Wildwood, FL.)