“When Running Made History”
Reviewed by Tony Farmer
I saw this book reviewed a few weeks back in a weekly Newsletter and when I read the magic word RUNNING, I felt I had to go and purchase my copy.
How worthwhile it was. I can usually tell from reading the first chapter of a book, if I am going to enjoy it.
The author is a very likeable guy, not only in the running sense, but also as an academic in earlier times, at Canterbury and Victoria Universities.
Some of the sports great moments across the decades
Without giving away too much of the book he starts with his background in England. He has hopped around USA and has homes in England and New Zealand. I could particularly relate to kicking around as a child on the bombsites and then going through to the Cold War problems which still existed.
Nevertheless, the sport of running prevailed and he refers to the amazing 1954 race between Christopher Chataway and Vladimir Kutz, a Russian middle distance runner.
I can remember being huddled around the black and white television at home (we were one of the few to own one), watching this amazing duel. I suggest you do what I did last weekend watch it again on YouTube – I still can’t believe the finish!!!
The book really is a journey, of competitive running and how races began as simply turning up, paying your couple of pounds entry and then heading home after the race, compared to the huge city races today with over 40,000 competitors.
Changing the lives of people and communities
There are many upbeat references to how running has changed not only individual’s lives, but whole communities.
On the flip side Roger relates the sad problems of the Boston Marathon bombing in 2014.
However, Roger then relates how after the events not only the local community got together, but also running communities worldwide, to show that terrorism will not win and running will continue to survive.
There are other excellent references particularly to the advent of women’s running and how difficult it was at first for women to be accepted. Roger’s wife was a forerunner in starting the Avon Women’s running movement – which first got my wife Maureen into running.
Septuagenarians will also enjoy the last chapter relating to running in your old age and the many health and mental advantages. There is an amazing lady, Libby James, who has run a 5K in 25.30 at age 80 !
So keep on running and walking – you know it makes sense.