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Flanagan's Run [Hardcover]

Tom McNab


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Book Description

May 1982
Daunted by the prospect of running a marathon? The three thousand mile Transamerica epic race that is the subject of this novel puts it very much in perspective. It is depression-era America and notorious huckster, Flanagan, plans the ultimate race, reeling in contestants with the promise of a glittering jackpot prize. Two thousand audacious hopefuls line up at the starting line from every walk of life and all ends of the globe, each with something to prove. As they run themselves ragged across America, they come up against numerous hazards, including the precipitous Rockies, shady mobsters and crooked officials. Their different stories, ambitions and dreams converge through a shared determination which will inspire you to push on to the finishing line.
--This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: William Morrow & Co (May 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688011985
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688011987
  • Product Dimensions: 23.9 x 16.3 x 3.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 794 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,763,195 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

At the height of the Depression, in 1931, entrepreneur Charles Flanagan organises the Trans-America race, in which 2,000 runners from across the globe compete for a $150,000 top prize. But the sports establishment tries to scupper what they see as a threat to the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics. No less impressive than the fictional runners' gruelling three-month journey (50 miles a day through desert and mountains) is the pathos of the individuals' experiences which McNab creates - and Degas's treasure trove of accents bring to life. - Rachel Redford, The Observer Today's audiobooks are ideal for Easter fun-runners and long-distance harriers alike. Tom McNab lived and breathed athletics as competitor, coach and sports writer for 40 years before writing his marathon of a novel, Flanagan's Run, which was an instant bestseller on its publication in 1982. Set in 1931, in the depths of the Depression, it characterises the leading runners in a race from Los Angeles to New York. The prizes are vast but weather, Chicago chicanery and envious 1932 Olympics organisers seem set on destroying the adventure. Sprinters can opt for the abridged version, but I recommend the long-haul version. Both are read by the versatile and compelling Rupert Degas. - Christina Hardyment, The Times --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

About the Author

Tom McNab has experienced success as Olympic coach, prize winning novelist and Technical Director of the Oscar-winning film "Chariots of Fire". One of the world's leaders in sport, he has coached international athletes, the British Olympic Bobsleigh team and England's silver medal-winning squad in Rugby's 1992 World Cup. In the same year, he was awarded the British Coach of the Year. Tom has written several best selling novels, including Flanagan's Run which reached number 1 on the world's best seller lists, with fil rights taken by Disney. In 1982 he won the Scottish Novelist of the Year award and his repertoire of sporting films includes his work as script consultant and technical advisor for Chariots of Fire. He has been a commentator for ITV and Channel 4, a freelance journalist for the Observer, Sunday Telegraph, Times and Independent. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  19 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Running Classic Aug. 22 2002
By Bob Poulson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is a "lost classic" of the running book genre. Written in 1982, it's about a race across America in the 1930s, and is based on an actual race that occured in 1929. The cast of characters, including the unflappable promoter Flanagan, the veteran Doc Cole, the beautiful Kate Sheridan, the British Lord Thurleigh and more, all of whom have their own reasons for wanting to win, is very well drawn. Each of them is so interesting and likable that you're not sure who to root for. But best of all, the author, Tom McNab, a British Olympic coach, gets the running parts exactly right. I had doubts when I started to read it, but was pleasantly surprised. He captures the pain (physical and mental), the motivation, the commitment, and the satisfaction of running extremely well. Highly recommended.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book puts you in the race. May 6 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
It might be hard to believe but I heard about this book while playing cribbage on the internet with a prison warden from Canada! Having run across America myself, I was eager to read a book about the early transcon races that took place from LA to New York. This book is rich with wonderful detail to each character. By the end of the book, you are hoping that everyone makes it to the finish. This is the best work on a subject that is very hard to find stories about. The accuracy to what such a run is like, as well as appropriate ties to historical events is unmatched.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chariots of Fire's rambunctious little brother. Jan. 19 2009
By Tom Plum - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
First, let me say, as an endorsement of this book, I submit that I read a few chapters of it (7 and 8 in fact) serialized and in installments in the bi-monthly magazine "Marathon and Beyond": but I had just that one issue, Jan./Feb. of 2008 I believe and thought, wow! These two chapters are captivating reading, I've got to read this whole book! So I went to amazon and ordered it pronto and I'm glad I did. The serialized version in the magazine also contained illustrations adding to the story. That may have only been something the magazine did.

This is in some ways, the little brother of Chariots of Fire (Two-Disc Special Edition)and it is a very historic novel. As an example, I certainly did not know that in fact, there were Olympics games held in Athens in 1906, yes and that throws the 4 year timing of the normally accepted Olympics off; so in fact, those were not accepted as being Olympics but came to be called the "Intercalated games" (look it up) with the Olympics proper being held in St. Louis in 1904 and then there were the 1908 games held London. It all gets rather interesting, but little historic tidbits the book gives you sets your mind to wondering. Those games held in St. Louis in fact, were originally going to be held in Chicago. The 1904 World's Fair was in St. Louis, so somehow they moved the games there too, as Paris I believe had them both at the same time. Of course, I have pondered the meaning of the historic event mentioned most frequently in the book and that has to do with the 1908 Marathon with Dorando Pietri. It is quite famous in running lore and one should research and read it for oneself. Pietri led the Marathon but really broke down inside the stadium in the final laps and had to be bodily carried and did not win however, he is largely the face remembered for those Olympics. It is incredible that this key event now happened over a hundred years ago but it is the history of the Marathon and according to McNab, this heroism and event with Dorando helped fuel the whole Marathon boom!

Also, as is his right, the author I believe does take from real events that have happened, I've heard that a race like this, perhaps did take place during the depression years, however, I do need to research this more, however, let's say a sport icon in Great Britain would be the 1960s cyclist Tom Simpson, I personally believe there is one incident much modeled after him but I won't spoil it for anyone. Additionally, one of the main characters of the book is a Kate Sheridan, known uniquely as being one of the few women runners in the Trans-America race and so she is a bit of a pioneer in running long distances. I've got to think at times, she is reminiscent of Katherine SwitzerMarathon Woman: Running the Race to Revolutionize Women's Sports with the same initials, K.S., known to be the first woman who ran the Boston Marathon some years ago. As if all of this history was not enough that the novel takes from, there is a lot of running inspiration in this book, I was reading it and got a good run in and thought of the book. No spoilers and it is somewhat known, but olive oil on the muscles surely does have it's benefits and that's one remedy Doc uses; so there is practical information in it as well.

There may be a few turns that get a bit way out for me but the reviewer was correct in that it is episodic at times like a tv show and easy enough to roll with it, it's not all that implausible as a whole. And some of it is indeed, very real, the first half of the book in particular when there was strife and a migration of workers to the West Coast as in the dust bowl days and then, through the eyes of another character, comparing it to say Scotland during the same era with what seems to be the author's own unique Scottish background. Of the half dozen or so principle characters of the book, McNab gives us the background of each so we kind of understand what makes them tick. In this vein, in fact, I would surmise that Lord Thurleigh in this book is in fact, much the same character as Lord Andrew Lindsay from Chariots and that is in fact, very plausible as the original Lord in the Chariots saga was in fact, somewhat fictional but loosely based on the real Lord Burghley who did not consent to his character being strictly used. The other characters in Chariots are in fact, portrayals of real persons such as Olympians Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddle but from that movie, I very much envision the role of Lord Thurleigh as being much like the Lord in Chariots and basically from what I can tell, is the same person fictionalized since both participated in the 1924 Paris Olympics. As I said, there is a lot of detail and thank goodness for that. It is fascinating to study up on.

In the early part of the 20th century, track and field runners in the US shared much public attention with sports like American football, boxing and baseball. A poll in the 1930s showed that 6 of 18 of the most popular sportsmen listed were indeed track and field athletes (see the book Triumph: The Untold Story of Jesse Owens and Hitler's Olympics by Jeremy Schaap).

Politics with the Olympic committee is likewise examined. We often don't care to hear words like "boycott" associated with the Olympics and the Olympics should be above politics but on the other hand, the Olympic committee surely was harsh on athletes like Jim Thorpe in regards to amateur status in the past.

What a chance encounter that I read those two chapters in that magazine and had to get this book and it is one I return to every now and then. It is a real treasure and doesn't falter as a short read but is indeed a long relaxing story and has inspired me to read more on earlier history of Olympic sport, but it's best point is that it has to be that it is inspirational as other readers say.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a must for runners Aug. 26 2000
By eric - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
the book that made me run, and realise that NO PAIN NO GAIN read it when I was 19 and deep down, started running a few km, and found balance in my life............ 15 years after, I have a great life, I run ultras... and I reread the book once in a while...
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This review is for the audioook Dec 6 2010
By Jeanette Finan - Published on Amazon.com
I don't know how one can call an audiobook a page turner with a straight face but this recording was absolutely riviting. I stayed up late to finish it because I couldn't bear to stop. The reader, Rubert Degas did an excellent job of bringing the characters to life and that made it even more exciting. It's been a while since a book pulled me into it this deep. I am sure that had I read this book I would have loved it but this is a book that is enhanced by listening to Rupert Degas turn these characters into real people in my mind.

I woke up thinking about the characters and what became of them this morning. It told you about the main characters but there were almost a thousand runners who finished. I had to keep reminding myself that this is a work of fiction because I really cared what happened to these people after they completed such a huge event. If a book pulls me in like this on did I sometimes have a problem separating fictional people from non fictional people. What a silly person I can be. But anyway, a delightful, exciting read that's for sure. I am not or ever have been a runner but now, in my heart I am one.

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