Book Review: ‘A Race Like No Other: 26.2 Miles Through the Streets of New York’

It seems the only time either of us really get to dive into a book is when we travel. But I think that makes the time spent even sweeter because each book is then linked to an experience. During our cross-country flight to Boston last month I read “A Race Like No Other: 26.2 Miles Through the Streets of New York” and truly had a hard time putting it down.

Written by Liz Robbins, a veteran sports writer for The New York Times, the book chronicles the 2007 New York Marathon through the eyes of elites and amateurs, marathon junkies and first-timers. And it truly resonated with me because I remember 2007 as the year I really felt like a “runner.” It was the year of my first half marathon, the year I began my Runner’s World subscription, the year I joined a local running group in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and the year I pounded out hundreds of miles during the months I spent researching and writing my master’s thesis.

A Race Like No Other

Robbins dedicates each chapter in the book to a mile of the race, and follows the struggles and triumphs of a handful of that year’s participants, from the elites with hopes of securing a TOP finish to a cancer survivor running his first marathon whose only goal was TO finish.

Now the world’s largest marathon, the New York race was initiated in 1970 with a pickup group of 127. More than half of today’s runners come from overseas, and the city takes in an estimated $200 million each year. Though entry to the marathon is achieved by the world’s elite athletes, by lottery or running with a charity, there is still something incredibly poignant about a race that travels through all five boroughs of the city and is a bucket list item and lifelong goal for so many. I highly recommend this read to anyone in any stage of their relationship with running. It will absolutely change you for the better.

I never meant to become a runner. My high school didn’t have a track team, and I grew up in an area of the Deep South where exercise wasn’t a priority in school or at home. I became a runner for extremely vain reasons, but fell in love with the sport and can’t get enough of the community, the way dedicated training constantly changes me, and how it feels to cross the finish line on race day.

It’s something we’ve discussed quite a bit, but reading Robbins’ mile-by-mile account of what it’s like to be part of the New York City Marathon pushed the decision even more: We have decided to enter the lottery for the 2014 New York Marathon. Wish us luck!

If you’ve run the New York Marathon, we’d love to hear your feedback and advice!

Have a wonderful week,


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