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Reviewing the Running Stuff Out There

By Philip McGoff

This month: Once a Runner, a novel by John L. Parker, Jr.


This 1978 novel is a cult classic that follows a miler, Quentin Cassidy, from his college running days up to his world class running breakthrough.  I first read this book about ten years ago.  It was an uneven book that had several exhilarating and insightful moments.  A few years after I read it, I happened to start graduate school at the University of Florida in Gaines

ville, where the novel is set (though in the book it is Southeastern University in Kernsville, Florida).  After moving to Gainesville, I had meant to reread the book to see if I could find the local references.  Since the book was still with a former girlfriend (I won't go into the details of the custody battle), I never quite got around to it.  Recently, I happened across a copy of it at my local Border's bookstore, so I immediately picked it up.
I had remembered three key scenes in the book that

make it more than worth while.  After passing the first scene and knowing that the others were far away, I put it down for a while.  Honestly, the first half of the book seems to be little more than a disconnected series of stories from college running days.  Imagine that your regular running buddy was a really good runner in his college days.  Imagine that he really likes to tell you stories from his college days, most slightly humorous.  That is pretty much the first

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