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Once a Runner: A Novel [Paperback]

John L. Parker Jr.
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 18.99
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Book Description

April 6 2010
Originally self-published in 1978, Once a Runner captures the essence of competitive running—and of athletic competition in general—and has become one of the most beloved sports novels ever published..

Inspired by the author’s experience as a collegiate champion, the story focuses on Quenton Cassidy, a competitive runner at fictional Southeastern University whose lifelong dream is to run a four-minute mile. He is less than a second away when the turmoil of the Vietnam War era intrudes into the staid recesses of his school’s athletic department. After he becomes involved in an athletes’ protest, Cassidy is suspended from his track team. Under the tutelage of his friend and mentor, Bruce Denton, a graduate student and former Olympic gold medalist, Cassidy gives up his scholarship, his girlfriend, and possibly his future to withdraw to a monastic retreat in the countryside and begin training for the race of his life against the greatest miler in history. .

A rare insider’s account of the incredibly intense lives of elite distance runners, Once a Runner is an inspiring, funny, and spot-on tale of one man’s quest to become a champion..

Frequently Bought Together

Once a Runner: A Novel + Again to Carthage: A Novel + The Perfect Mile: Three Athletes, One Goal, and Less Than Four Minutes to Achieve It
Price For All Three: CDN$ 41.82

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Product Details

Product Description


“Part training manual, part religious tract, part love story, and all about running, Once a Runner is so inspiring it could be banned as a performance-enhancing drug.” —Benjamin Cheever, author of Strides

“By far the most accurate fictional portrayal of the world of the serious runner…a marvelous description of the way it really is.” —Kenny Moore, Sports Illustrated

“The best piece of running fiction around. Beg, borrow, or buy a copy, and you’ll never need another motivator.” —Dave Langlais, Runner’s World

"The best novel ever written about running."--Runner's World

From the Publisher

Truly a cult classic. Now in its 8th Printing! --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Runner's Dream... Aug. 9 2003
I believe that "Once a Runner" is the authors dreamscape. It is a past he wishes on some level he had lived. Quenton Cassidy is the authors archetype of the ultimate runner. Dedicated, single minded, intellegent and most of all filled with boundless potential. The novel is peopled with running greats such as thinly vield John Walker and Jack Bachelor as well as the American running icon Frank Shorter. Once a Runner is every truly competitive runners ultimate fantasy. The question always crosses the runners mind..."what could I do if I really trained myself to the sharpest point possible? What would I be capable of? Once a Runner gives one possible answer to these questions. It is fiction, but contains vast amounts of reality. Read it and go run 10 miles. You'll know what I mean. It is the greatest running novel ever written.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than a 3:50 mile... July 19 2003
By A Customer
If your family and friends don't understand your running ways, get them this book. They may disown you, but they'll have an idea what it's like. "Once A Runner" is a great story, very well-written, funny and with an amazing climax and wrap-up. There's nothing bad about it. I don't re-read books, but I've re-read this one. As I runner, it inspires me and reminds me there are other people out there who are like me. Really, there are. It's the best book I've ever read. I only wish I knew about it before this summer. It has my highest recomendation. I'd give it six stars if I could. Or more. A great piece of writing even non-runners should enjoy. I don't know why it's not a movie. Oh, wait, yes I do. That'd ruin this little-known, cult classic gem.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Truly Inspiring Novel June 30 2003
I was lent this book by a friend and fellow runner, and he's obviously read it many times. I am planning on buying my own copy, because this book is so inspiring. It's simply and elegantly written, and it captures the heart and soul of a true distance runner. I can't recall a more inspiring passage in any book on any subject than the 400 workout in Once A Runner (you'll know what I mean when you read it). Perhaps this novel can only be appreciated by serious runners, but if you are a runner, I encourage you to buy it and read it, again and again.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good book Jan. 29 2004
By A Customer
This was a good book and I did a book report on it. I liked it, but I the true stories in Running Forward, Looking Back better. I'm going to get more running books.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
A great book for former (and probably current) competitive runners. Good for all ages but especially if you ran in the 70's and can pick up on some of the historical details. Really takes you back into the mind and fun of a distance runner. Probably not as interesting to a non runner who can't relate to the experiences as described in the book.
Great vacation reading.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Gold Standard Nov. 24 2002
Once a Runner is the best running book I have ever read. Unlike training guides or running stories that spend far too much time explaining the beauty of running and trying to introduce people to the wonders of jogging around, Once A Runner really goes into the life and mind of a runner (though the book uses fictional characters, they are easily recognizable and realistic). It describes the dedication, hard work, and goofiness that is required to be successful and what makes runners a very unique, though cetainly interesting breed. The story itself, of a young college-aged runner and his quest to run the fastest mile he could while in school and after he got kicked out, is extremely well paced and smootly written, just as a good race. It is a fantastic book and I would highly recommend it for beginners, enthusiasts, or someone who just needs a little motivation.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A simple must July 2 2004
By d z
This book changed me from a recreational runner who also raced, into a motivated, mileage crazy hermit. If you are ever ran or plan to start running competitivly this book is your gaurenteed motivator. Personally I believe the best chapter is chapter 17. Breaking Down. This chapter clearly removes the competitive runner from all other types and holds the best explanation for why we run.I have read this book as many times as I have had the opportunity to. It serves as a great race day motivator. There is also a sequel coming out soon named, Return to Carthage.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book for the serious runner June 1 2004
John L. Parker does a fantastic job of capturing the mindset of a serious runner. Anyone who has blacked out in the home stretch, or performed the self mutilation of a twenty mile run will be able to relate to Quentin Cassidy, the book's protagonist.
Only one aspect of the book was obviously unrealistic. While running injuries plagued some of the supporting cast, Cassidy himself never got so much as a shin splint. However, this triviality in no way takes away from the dead on descriptions of the world of balls-out distance running.
Great book for anyone more than mildly interested in the sport.
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