Sunday, November 1, 2015

Review of "Two Hours"

It seems only appropriate to post a review of a book on marathon running today when the New York City Marathon took place.  This book gives a great "fly-on-the-wall" viewpoint of the sport. Here is my review of "Two Hours."

“Two Hours: The Quest to Run the Impossible Marathon” by Ed Caesar

Running, marathon, endurance, records

Publish date:
October 27, 2015

264 pages

5 of 5 stars (outstanding)

While running as a participatory sport has grown to new heights in recent years, the sport’s ultimate signature event for endurance, the marathon, has not enjoyed the same popularity as a spectator sport or as one in which there is much reading material. While there are plenty of books on training for a marathon and some biographies of runners such as Steve Prefontaine, there is very little written about the marathon that a reader can read much like a novel or story and learn about the event.

That void has now been filled by “Two Hours”, an excellent book on the quest by elite marathoners on attempting to break the barrier of running the 26-mile-385-yard event in under two hours.  Ed Caesar’s account of the world of marathon running, told through his interviews and stories of some of the best runners in the sport from Kenya, give a unique perspective of the sport that has not been available to readers before.  While the most prominent runner in the book is Geoffrey Mutai, the 2011 Boston Marathon winner, it is not all about him.

Just about every subject that is applicable to running the marathon is covered.  Whether it is the psychology of a runner, the question of doping in the sport similar to cycling, the training involved, the politics and money of the sport, or the evolution of shoes, Caesar covers it all in a manner that is not too technical for the reader. They all give credence to the belief that at some point in the near future, a runner will be able to break the two-hour barrier, much like Roger Bannister did to the four-minute mile barrier more than 50 years ago. Even if the reader is not a runner or follows the sport closely, he or she will be able to read the book at a leisurely pace and not get too bogged down with too many details. 

I was especially impressed with Caesar’s writing about the question of whether blood doping takes place in the sport.  He makes no accusations or assumptions one way or the other. It is written from knowledge and research, the facts are presented and the reader is left to make his or her own decision on the topic.

The other parts that were extremely well-written were the descriptions of what Mutai has endured, both in his life and in his running career.  The reader will certainly feel connected with the man and will be cheering on Mutai during the chapters on his races.

This is a book I highly recommend for anyone interested in marathons – whether as a participant in these races regularly or just curious to learn more about what makes these elite runners tick. No matter what topic draws one to this book, the reader will not be disappointed.

I wish to thank Simon and Schuster for providing a copy of the book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  

Book Format Read:
E-Book (Kindle)

Buying links:

No comments:

Post a Comment