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26 Miles to Boston: The Boston Marathon Experience from Hopkinton to Copley Square Paperback – Mar 1 2003

4.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Lyons Press; First edition (March 1 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585748285
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585748280
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 15.3 x 1.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 340 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #410,968 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"26 MILES TO BOSTON offers a unique look at the event and what it means to runners and the Boston community as it has never before been chronicled."
--Boston Athletic Association

"26 MILES TO BOSTON puts you in the race. Through each chapter, mile after mile, my imagery and heart rate moved along the Boston Marathon course as if I were actually back on it."
--Jean Driscoll, Seven-Time Women's Wheelchair Champion

From the Back Cover

26 Miles to Boston is a colorful and moving portrait of what it feels like to run the Boston Marathon - and it puts readers squarely into the running shoes of anyone who has attempted the world's most prestigious long-distance race.
From the suburban town of Hopkinton to the center of metropolitan Boston, here are the mile-by-mile sights and sounds that confront the runners, and firsthand accounts - including the author's - of the pain and exhaustion they endure as they battle both the elements and the course's demanding terrain.
Here also is a rich and inspiring history of the marathon and of the men and women of varying skills and abilities whose own struggles, small victories, and personal triumphs have colored this magnificent event.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I bought Michael Connelly's 26 Miles to Boston as a Christmas gift for my husband. I was aghast to read that the author had run the race as a bandit (i.e. not registered--either by qualifying, as part of a charity program or any of the other ways to LEGALLY run without qualifying). This one fact all but ruined what otherwise would have been an entertaining and interesting book about one of the world's greatest running events. In particular, his tirade against Marty Liquori, who had the temerity to suggest on-air that unregistered runners respect the Boston Athletic Association's rules and decline from taking advantage of the many course amenities for which they didn't pay (in Mr. Connelly's case this included the expertise of medical staff after the race), reduced my respect for him as a "runner" to the point that I couldn't enjoy the book. I suspect other runners who do respect this great race may have similar feelings. It took me several years to get to the point that I could even consider trying to qualify for Boston; Mr. Connelly decided six months ahead of time to begin a running career and had such a sense of entitlement as to feel that the world owed him the privilege of running the Boston Marathon right off the bat. This would have been a much better book without the inclusion of Mr. Connelly's self-righteously conceived, ill-advised personal experience.
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By A Customer on March 16 2004
Format: Paperback
Never has a book captured the essence of not only running Boston, but mararthoning as 26 Miles to Boston has. The author's account of his run humanizes the event - and puts a face on the Boston Marathon like never before. In my mind any concerns with the runner's running status (non-qualified) are put to rest by the fact that the three greatest runners ever to run the Boston Marathon support the book with personal endorsements in the form of forewords. Also the Boston Athletic Association lends their own quote to the cover of the book further endorsing the author's account of the Boston Marathon. In my mind the Boston Marathon is the greatest race in the world. People come from all over the world to run in this event - some are qualified some are not. What makes it special is the fact that all are provided the opportunity to compete in the "Open" event. The Boston Marathon is not just for "elite" runners, but runners of all levels, nationalities and backgrounds. I love the way 26 Miles to Boston captured the special qualities of the race and intertwined the author's account and the champions' accounts of the race. I would recommend this book to all runners, marathoners and fans of the Boston Marathon, the elite and non-elite alike.
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Format: Paperback
Mr. Connelly provides an entertaining back-of-the-pack point of view of his first marathon, the centennial running of the Boston Marathon. Although the book is not a training manual, it is a great account that should be read by first time marathoners. Experienced marathoners, on the other hand, will be able to relate to mental highs and lows described by the author during his run. Most amazing, but not covered in depth, was that the author was dedicated enough to train for the marathon, as a "bandit", during one of the worst winters recorded in New England. That perseverance carries over to pages of Mr. Connelly's book.
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Format: Paperback
Mr. Connelly gives us a unique and entertaining account of the Boston Marathon. He presents to us with a multi-layered telling of his running of the most famous of all races. He tells us his story but also gives us an entertaining history of the race and those who have run it. He also introduces us to the merchants and spectators who line the course each Patriots Day. This was a very enjoyable read!!! Highly recommended.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9e7b2468) out of 5 stars 24 reviews
45 of 51 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa078b69c) out of 5 stars In defense, sort of, of bandits . . . Dec 1 1999
By Christopher C. Smith - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I read this book as someone looking forward to doing his first Boston Marathon (20th overall) next April. I can't imagine a better introduction to subject. It is rich in history, anecdote and illustration. And its mile by mile "feel" for the course brings the event alive. I suspect it is the closest thing to a definitive book on the subject. But particularly I want to address the criticism (in one of these reviews) that it is written by a participant who didn't qualify for the event -- i.e., a "bandit." I agree (with the critic) that achieving a qualifying time is an important part of the experience. Doing a 3:42 marathon in Portland (Ore.), after my most diligent training ever, brought me my greatest thrill as a runner (at age 65!). But as a first-time marathoner, Michael Connelly conveys a delightful naivete and sense of wonder that by definition a "qualifying" marathoner couldn't. I found myself particularly looking forward to the italicized paragraphs begun with his initials "MPC:". Secondly, whether the Boston Athletic Association or any of the official runners likes it or not, "bandits" constitute a regular part of the landscape. It seems significant that the BAA, on the book's jacket, offers an endorsement of "26 Miles to Boston." One more thought: Three-time winner Uta Pippig of Germany, quoted throughout, comes across as such a classy, wonderful athlete and human being that her spirit ought to be bottled.
97 of 120 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f112588) out of 5 stars Warning: False Advertising, Insulting -- You'll Feel Cheated Feb. 18 2005
By Boston_Qualifier - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The author ran the race as a "bandit", a fact that you don't discover until you buy the book (it is not stated anywhere on the book cover, reviews, etc.) In fact, Amazon states: "About the Author ...MICHAEL CONNELLY competed in the 1996 Boston marathon." This is simply a false statement. Legitimately qualifying for Boston is an integral part of competing, and the author did not do that. He did not "compete" in the Boston marathon any more than I "competed" in the U.S. Open by playing golf as a tourist at Pebble Beach (a frequent U.S. Open site). This taints the entire book and made me (as someone who has legitimately qualified for Boston) feel cheated (I am going to request a refund from Amazon on the basis of false advertising).

Now, I recognize that the BAA has more or less allowed bandits to run the course over the years. As such, it might not have been that bad if the author had simply stated something along the following lines: he respects the talent and effort it takes to qualify and he recognizes that, since he has not done so, his participation is not the same as a legitimate qualifier, but he is nevertheless giving his experiences as a first time marathoner, not as someone who has properly trained and qualified for Boston. But, the author makes no such statement.

In fact, the author berates Marty Liquori for suggesting that bandits should not be allowed to run. Here's an excerpt from the book (p. 43):

"Listen Marty, you're our guest. So mind your manners, pick up your check, and watch the race. When I cross that finish line some twenty-six miles down the road, not with a number but with the storied history of the Boston Marathon in my blood, then I will consider myself qualified! (By the way, Marty, a little fun fact for you: You and I are tied with the same number of Boston Marathon championships.)"

Give me a break. This statement is not only completely obnoxious, it also embarrasingly demonstrates a complete ignorance of running, as Marty Liquori was a middle distance runner (and an outstanding one at that), not a marathoner. Here's fun fact for Michael: your claimed time of 4:30 (p. 237) was more than an hour slower that the qualifying standard for your age. (I guess, by Michael's logic, when I completed the 18th hole at Pebble Beach, I qualified for the U.S. Open.) If there was any doubt before, that should be enough for anyone to reject the book.

But wait, it gets even worse. After completing the course, the author states the following (p. 261):

"I had arrived home safe and sound. Twenty-four hours before, I had walked out of that door a different man. Now I was the proud owner of a Boston Marathon medal and all the physical and mental benefits that come with it."

That is a flat out lie (or the author is delusional), as everyone knows that only legitimate qualifiers (who finish) are given medals, and again is highly insulting to all legitimate qualifiers/finishers.

If anyone is still considering buying the book, there is one other thing that you should be aware of. A good part of the author's description of his "experience" in running the course involves describing how he faced excruciating pain and/or a nearly overwhelming urge to quit at numerous points in the race, but someone he managed to overcome those and keep going to the finish, and how he was suffering after the finish (e.g., "As I walked down the street, with two mylar blankers taped around me like capes, a well meaning girl offered me a PowerBar. I fel like saying 'I don't need a PowerBar. I need to be read my last rites!'")

First of all, after a while, this stuff just becomes constant whining. More importantly, all of this "pain and suffering" was likely due to insufficient training on the part of the author. Apparently, up to six months before the race, he had done essentially no running and not a whole lot of exercise of any type (p. 7). Then, in late October 1995, he had heart surgery and apparently nearly died (p. 11). He then starting limited training in about mid-November (p. 12). Plus, the winter in New England was particular severe that year (p. 43). How could he have possibly done the proper amount of training to run Boston in April 1996? It appears that the author simply had no business running the course and, thereby, "suffered" more than a properly trained runner. Yet, he never admits to his lack of proper training. (Note: he claims to have run 4:30, but he provides no evidence to support that claim.)

Again, this ties back to his being a bandit. As a bandit who had not properly trained, his "experience" is simply not representative of the experience of a properly trained, legitimate qualifier.

You wouldn't buy a book about running by Rosie Ruiz. Don't buy this one either.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9edd00cc) out of 5 stars A must read before you run Boston April 26 2010
By Kevin Sheen - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I just ran the 114th Boston Marathon, and I can tell you that my experience was much enriched by having read this book.

The author takes you through the course mile by mile - talking through the landmarks, history and even technical discussions of the course itself. I have to say that after reading the book, I felt even more honored to participate in the race (and a little nervous). The author does a wonderful job of capturing how this just isn't a race, it's an event that stretches through over a century of history - not only of the course, but of distance running itself.

Reading it before hand, made the course more alive and familiar to me while I ran it. Recognizing the landmarks and knowing the history behind each one gave me something to look forward to each mile (and in the later miles keep my mind off the suffering). And finally, it gave me a sense for the spirit of the event itself and the personal stories that are inextricably linked each year to it.

I did read a few reviews that admonished the author for running as a bandit, I respect that perspective and don't condone bandit'ing the race.

However, the author's real value in this book isn't his running prowess (as he readily admits time and time again). Rather, it's the hard work and research he obviously invested to bring all of this history to the reader. I can't think of a better way to personalize the 'data' than to relate it to an actual running of the course. True, it would be ideal if the author was also an elite runner who had qualified - but barring that intersection, I think it would have been a shame to not have this author share his research in the way that he did. That's what I believe the review should be rated on.

Hope you found this helpful. I strongly recommend this book and think it should almost be a required reading for anyone signing up to run Boston.

You'll be happy you read it!

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0f282b8) out of 5 stars A Fun Book to Read Sept. 12 2009
By Y. Jessup - Published on
Format: Paperback
A quick read. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, especially historical happenings during the Boston Marathon races on a mile by mile basis. I wish I would have purchased and read the book prior to running this race, (twice)=D
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f0c0660) out of 5 stars 26 Miles To Boston - The Boston Marathon Experienced From Hopkinton to Copley Square April 4 2008
By Alan - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When I qualified to run my first Boston Marathon I was given a copy of this book. I had never been to Boston prior to the race.

I used this book to write my plan on how I should run the race. Each mile the author describes the rich history or the area, runners and insight on how to run the race.

This is a must read for first time Boston Marathon runners!