The club for runners in Saratoga Springs, NY

Book Review: Racing the Rain by John L. Parker

20 Jan 2016 6:57 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
In typical Star Wars fashion, Racing the Rain is the prequel to John Parker’s 1970’s cult classic, Once a Runner and his much later follow-up, Again to Carthage.  All trace the fortunes of a fictional Quenton Cassidy one of the south Florida running heroes of the Frank Shorter era.  Having lived there myself for a brief period of time, it is a mystery to me how such great runners could emerge from the sticky, humid swamps, but then I guess if you could deal with those conditions, you could deal with almost anything.
    Once a Runner leaves you almost as breathless as Cassidy as you experience the beyond-arduous workouts he endured in his quest for the Olympics.  As a miler, he covers as much weekly distance as today’s typical ultra runner.  The follow-up, Again to Carthage, discovers a considerably older, corporate version of Cassidy as he attempts a “what-if" comeback bid for another Olympics.  Disappointingly, the sequel, while true to form in its race sequences, seems to lack the spirit of the original.
    Not so for the prequel which profiles Cassidy and his friends growing up wild and independent, exploring their South Florida landscape---the way kids used to be allowed to do before today’s current helicopter parents arrived on the scene.  Cassidy is fortunate in his friendship with his mentor Trapper Nelson, a real-life character who made his living off the land.  Trapper not only taught young Cassidy survival skills and values but reached back through his past to hook his young friend up with some top-level coaches.  Cassidy, in turn, must decide whether to attend the all-important state meet or support his friend when things get tough.  
    Once more, Parker is back on track, capturing the intensity of training and racing as well as illustrating the mental toughness and personal fortitude that complement the true hero in this coming-of-age novel.
Reviewed by laura clark

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