This is perhaps the best running book I've ever read. It is certainly on a par with Sir Roger Bannister's classic "The Four Minute Mile". It chronicles the 1998 Colorado Buffalo Cross-Country Team from early in training camp to the National Championships. This team included, Adam Goucher, one of the favorites for the individual championship. Halfway through the season, an unforeseeable tragedy strikes the team, and they must pull together to keep their goals alive. Mark Wetmore, a highly regarded coach, uses unique methods to train his team both physically and emotionally.
This book succeeds on so many levels. We see the different relationships between team members, and how they contribute to the overall goal. We understand what it takes for a top athlete like Adam Goucher to reach one of the highest peaks in his sport. We are taken inside the mind of Mark Wetmore to understand the basis of his training plans and how to deal with the emotional ups and downs of his athletes, not to mention the tragedy that threatens the team's season. Rarely, if ever, does a running book take on so many topics successfully and provide so many great insights.
This book could have easily degenerated into a "bus schedule" of race results, training times, and workouts, but Lear had full access to the entire team, and certainly the reader becomes an insider as well. Unlike other "writers turned runners", Lear is a good writer. My only small criticism is that more biographical backgrounds on the athlete would help. We have short histories on Adam Goucher and Oscar Ponce, which are quite interesting, but certainly other athletes had interesting lives that we would like to hear about.
But this is a small quibble. Anyone who ran on a cross-country team is going to love this book. And non-runners are going to develop a great appreciation for what they may perceive as a strange tribe.