Book Review: My Best Race: 50 Runners and the Finish Line They’ll Never Forget Edited by Chris Cooper

If you’ve been participated in races for a few years, you’d definitely have a few memories to cherish. Your favourite race could’ve been the first marathon you’d completed or the small 5K to mark your transformation from a couch potato to an athlete. Or perhaps the race where you finally nailed that time goal you’d set 6 years ago. There are so many reasons why we run and continue to run, sticking it up to a debilitating decease, raising funds for a cause or simply just celebrating the feeling of continuous motion.

However, all too often we get too caught up with the excitement of going from races to races, the pursuit of personal agendas, to give pause and reflect on which race we’d consider to be our best, and was our finest or meaningful moment.

In My Best Race: 50 Runners and the Finish Line They’ll Never Forget, Chris Cooper gathered 50 runners of various abilities – from record breakers, Olympians to avid runners like you and I – and asked them to relate their side of the story. The stories are nothing short of inspirational, surprising and in the case of George Hirsch meeting his wife, whimsical. For example, it’s such a revelation to learn that for all his 136 sub-4 minute miles Steve Scott considers the crowd support and cheers he was lavished during the 1979 Drake Relays Mile to be the most memorable. Also never will we disregard a humble red duffel bag to be the greatest motivator and possession of Zola Budd Pieterse. Would you have guessed that Brian Sell’s best memory was a 2nd placed team race? Accounts that I found to be particularly moving were the recollection Donald Arthur, a heart patient, who completed the NYC Marathon with the brother of his heart donor and Jeff Galloway’s gesture in helping a fellow runner win a spot for the Olympics. A number of the elites’ stories weren’t even about their peak years – indeed many quoted their best moments being high school races!

Other contributors to the e-book include Kathrine Switzer, Kara Goucher, Scott Tinley, Amy Hastings, Marty Liquori, Craig Virgin, Weldon Johnson, Ed Eyestone, Keith Brantly, Jason Karp, Kim Jones, Don Kardong and Pam Reed.

Learning a hard lesson during a race, overcoming physical challenges, having one’s parents watching for the first time at the finish line are just a fraction of where inspiration can be found.

My Best Race: 50 Runners and the Finish Line They’ll Never Forget is a highly recommended read and is amongst my favourites in my running book collection. Chris Cooper has done a great job in collecting and putting together. You can purchase the e-book from this link. Major formats by Apple, Amazon, B&N, and Sony are supported.

About the Author
Chris Cooper is the author of Long May You Run: all. things. running. (reviewed here),  a collection of essays and observations to inspire, observations to inspire, encourage, and challenge runners to maintain their passion for the sport as long as they live. He has been a runner for most of his life, with numerous road race victories and a sub-three-hour marathon among his achievements.

A graduate of Pennsylvania State University, he is host of the blog “Writing on the Run,” and has worked in the fields of marketing and public opinion research for more than twenty-five years. Besides his interests in running and writing, Chris cultivates a passion for wine by working part-time at a local winery. He lives with his wife in West Chester, Pennsylvania.

Disclaimer: A review copy of “My Best Race: 50 Runners and the Finsh Line They’ll Never Forget” was provided to me by the author Chris Cooper, but the opinions stated in this review are entirely my own. Get to know more about the author and his work at his website.

Originally published: Sep 13th, 2013