Long Road to Boston: by Mark Sutcliffe
The Long Road to Boston is a must-read for anyone who is either aspiring to run the Boston marathon, or who has ever run it. Having ran my first Boston marathon this spring, I learned so much throughout this book that I wish I had known before the race. Mark Sutcliffe, weaves his personal tale of struggle and triumph in qualifying for the Boston marathon after several failed attempts, interwoven with stories on the history of the marathon; its quirky past, and fun facts about the course.
In particular, this book gave me a greater understanding of just what it is that makes Boston so special. While I had heard about certain sections of the course like Heartbreak Hill, there were other areas I had heard nothing about (the story behind the Cemetery of Lost Hope, and the Haunted Mile). The entire history of the original marathon, and Boston, is briefly described throughout the book, including the first women who raced the Boston marathon, the subsequent qualifying times that were imposed in the race, and how a race that was meant for a select few has turned into the most recognized event in the world. I found there were a lot of great insights about why we run, the struggle that is the marathon itself, and how frustrating it is to run your heart out to ‘come up short’.
With the Boston Marathon now being so popular that running your age-group qualifying time is no longer enough to guarantee your entry, it was really incredible to see how much training, perseverance and dedication Sutcliffe put into achieving his goal of running Boston. Like many of us, Sutcliffe started out as your average person trying to get back into shape, who slowly increased his race distances, and started running marathons to see if he could. It wasn’t until he had a few under his belt that he even considered trying to run a ‘fast’ one and qualify. Mark Sutcliffe shows us with determination, a good coach, and supportive family, anything is possible.
The books reads like a conversation with a good friend you might have on your long run. Sutcliffe discusses everything including running and injury, eating, training programs, and balancing time away from family to run. I really enjoyed how Sutcliffe draws parallels between running and life, and how the emotional benefits of running are much more numerous than the physical ones alone. He talks about the thousands of dollars he, and others have raised through racing for numerous charitable organizations. He thanks the volunteers and spectators (there is a full chapter of ‘thanks’), which in a sport such as running, is really critical to its success.
This book was relatable, fun, and easy to read. A must-have holiday gift for the runner on your list!