The legendary long-distance runner details his historic victory in the 1975 Boston Marathon that launched the modern running boom
Within a span of two hours and nine minutes, Bill Rodgers went from obscurity to legend, from Bill Rodgers to "Boston Billy." In doing so, he instantly became the people's champ and the poster boy for the soulful 1970s distance runner. Having won the Boston Marathon and New York Marathon four times each, he remains the only marathoner to have appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated twice. Winning the Holy Grail of marathons in an unthinkable record time changed Bill's life forever.
But his dramatic breakthrough in Boston also changed the lives of countless others, instilling in other American runners the belief that they could follow in his footsteps, and inspiring thousands of regular people to lace up their shoes and chase down their own dreams. In the year before Rodger's victory at the 1975 Boston Marathon, 20,000 people had completed a marathon in the United States. By 2009, participants reached nearly half a million.
Thirty-seven years later Bill Rodgers still possesses the same warm, endearing, and whimsical spirit that turned him into one of America's most beloved athletes. In Marathon Man he details for the first time this historic race and the events that led him there.
Rodgers's energy and self-regard never flags in this bombastic sports memoir. The author was a long-distance track superstar in the 1970s; he won four Boston and four New York marathons, and in the book he recalls how his feckless existence of partying and dead-end jobs gained meaning through the discipline of 150-mile-per-week training regimens in an era when running was an eccentricity. (Luckless opponents discovered that he would "keep pushing harder and harder, increasing the severity of your pain, until I'd annihilated your soul, your spirit, your body.") There's flab in Rodgers's narrative, with its interminable step-by-step account of his 1975 Boston Marathon win, its mystic bromides "the marathon is the essence of the unknown transforming into the known" and its tireless recounting of accolades, from the fulsome ("the greatest runner in the world and the history of the world") to the celestial (" literally reached out and touched people, like God on Michelangelo's Sistine chapel"). Still, readers with stamina will find an absorbing portrait, shaped by coauthor Shepatin, of the grueling stress and subtle strategizing of long-distance races, and of the plucky, slapdash subculture of marathoning in its salad days. Photos.
Bill Rodgers' story is really nothing short of phenomenal. Years of commitment, training, and single minded purpose are spelled out in detail. The only thing bigger than Rodgers' ambitions are his heart and love for others. A great man.