Read Kings of the Road: How Frank Shorter, Bill Rodgers, and Alberto Salazar Made Running Go Boom by Cameron Stracher Online


Winner of the 2015 Armory Foundation Book Award from the Track & Field Writers of America For fans of The Perfect Mile and Born to Run, a riveting, three-pronged narrative about the golden era of running in America—the 1970s—as seen through running greats, Frank Shorter, Bill Rodgers, and Alberto Salazar It was 1978. Jimmy Carter was President; gas prices were soaring;Winner of the 2015 Armory Foundation Book Award from the Track & Field Writers of America For fans of The Perfect Mile and Born to Run, a riveting, three-pronged narrative about the golden era of running in America—the 1970s—as seen through running greats, Frank Shorter, Bill Rodgers, and Alberto Salazar It was 1978. Jimmy Carter was President; gas prices were soaring; and Americans were hunkering down to weather the economic crisis. But in bookstores Jim Fixx’s The Complete Book of Running was a bestseller. Frank Shorter’s gold medal in the 1972 Olympic marathon had put distance running in the mind of a public enamored of baseball and football. Suddenly, the odd activity of "jogging" became "running," and America was in love. That summer, a junior from the University of Oregon named Alberto Salazar went head to head with Olympic champion Frank Shorter and Boston Marathon champion Bill Rodgers at the Falmouth Road Race, losing in the last mile to Rodgers's record-setting 32:21, nearly dying in the process, and setting the stage for a great rivalry. In Shorter, Rodgers, and Salazar, running had its conflict and drama like boxing had Ali and Foreman, like basketball had Russell and Chamberlain. Each man built on what the other achieved, and each pushed the other to succeed. Their successes, in turn, fueled a nation of coach potatoes to put down the remote and lace up their sneakers.Kings of the Road tells the story of running during that golden period from 1972 to 1981 when Shorter, Rodgers, and Salazar captured the imagination of the American public as they passed their figurative baton from one to the other. These three men were American running during those years, while the sport enjoyed a popularity never equaled. As America now experiences a similar running boom, Kings of the Road is a stirring, inspiring narrative of three men pushing themselves toward greatness and taking their country along for the ride....

Title : Kings of the Road: How Frank Shorter, Bill Rodgers, and Alberto Salazar Made Running Go Boom
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780547773964
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 240 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Kings of the Road: How Frank Shorter, Bill Rodgers, and Alberto Salazar Made Running Go Boom Reviews

  • Martin
    2019-06-25 15:25

    Comments based advanced reader's copy - thanks Houghton Mifflin. Exceptional history of the great American distance runners, their impact on the sport, their many meetings in the Falmouth road race, and the rise and fall of American distance runners as world class athletes. For an older reader like myself it depicted the golden age of American running; when race entry fees were under $10 and you could run shoulder to shoulder (for a few yards)with the best in the world and share a beer with them after the race. The author depicts just how good the likes of Shorter, Rodgers, and Salazar were in advance of scientific training methods, dietitians, and performance enhancing drugs - when training to be a world class athlete meant running more and faster, and repeating the process, and doing so without being an over paid prima donna. Recommended to distance runners and especially recommended to those interested in sporting history, and the study of sport in society. I hope the publisher positions this author for some ESPN and NPR interviews before the Boston Marathon which is about the time that this book is coming out. I hope the publisher buys into the Falmouth road race mailing list to promote the title too.

  • Justin
    2019-07-17 13:17

    Would have really enjoyed this book if it were not for the author's criticisms throughout the book. Out of nowhere and for no reason he critiques barefoot running and hated it. He dislikes the increased popularity of running and finds it a reason for th the end of the boom- If only women, Kenyans, and penguins would get off the course and not race (his critiques not mine). Otherwise this would have become a favorite of mine.

  • Audrey
    2019-07-07 19:31

    Like so many others I found the author's attitude dimmed my overall enjoyment of the book. As one of those slow, noncompetitive runners he so disdains, I disagree with the idea that mass participation has killed the sport. Long distance Running is never going to rise to the level of pro football or basketball because it simply isn't visually exciting. Those who are super competitive about running will be so whether the rest of us are there or not. People who don't run just don't care and I don't see that changing. Maybe the author forgets that whenever there's a boom - oil, gold, running - there's a bust.

  • Rui Carlos da Cunha
    2019-07-01 15:41

    I finished this book the other night. Absolutely amazing writing from start to finish. Horribly sad the release coincided with the tragedy of the 2013 Boston Marathon, but I believe it will do well if enough readers give it positive reviews. Having run cross-country and long-distance track for a couple of years at Edison High School in Huntington Beach, CA, this book, Kings of the Road, spoke to me of the grace in victory and the agony of defeat.I gave the ARC to my co-worker, Angelica, who runs the marathon here in Chicago, but then realized that I needed to ask for a copy from the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt rep after I saw a copy of the book at the bookstore.Stracher is wonderful at contextualizing and presenting historical moments in riveting prose, in addition to giving the reader information about anatomy and physiology so necessary to know in terms of understanding injuries.That said, I wish Stracher would write more on the American women's runners movement and the African runners' background & lifestyle.But truly, this book is a winner from beginning to end and back again. I guess if you write about winners of road races in a compelling fashion you can't help but write a great book.

  • Chalky
    2019-06-24 13:37

    I really enjoyed this book. I must have, I finished it in a day. As a youngish runner, who completed my first marathon in 1986 in NY, many of the runners names were familiar from the old ( well my young) days. The book was well written and clearly well researched.I was tempted to give it a 5 but felt held back by two factors, the very abrupt ending to the volume ( it would have been great to have been bought up to date on Shorter, Rodgers and Salazar as well as some of the other characters). I was also puzzled by the authors seemingly negative views on the current state of long distance running in the USA. While he was right in saying how dominant African runners are, this seems more a testament to them, than an indictment on American running ... But he certainly knows more than me. It would also have been good to have a chapter, albeit not about the Kings, on the Queens too.Anyway, a good and recommended read.

  • Jasmine
    2019-07-01 18:12

    This is a history of the great American distance runners from 1972-1982. The author writes about how good Shorter, Rodgers, and Salazar were and their rise to become world class athletes. I would recommended this book to distance runners and those interested in sports history. I really enjoyed seeing the rivalry that developed and how these men in turn made each other better by striving to be the best themselves.

  • Donlon
    2019-06-23 14:28

    Very well written and entertaining but I do not agree with all of the author's views.

  • Sarah Logan-Reynolds
    2019-06-23 17:39

    A quick fun read for anyone who has athletic thoughts, this book is informative in an interesting way. No you don’t have to be a runner to enjoy it!

  • Liz DeLise
    2019-07-06 18:40

    this was a good history of the sport of running.

  • Kyanne Ruth
    2019-07-14 13:37

    "Kings of the Road" was an instant hit for me. It automatically intrigued me and then Stracher drew me in with his knowledge about running. There were, of course, parts of the book that were confusing. I had to reread a few sections because Stracher talked about so many runners and I couldn't remember who won this race, and lost that race. The names of the runners started running together. Besides the confusion of the runners the book was outstanding. I would definitely read this book again and recommend it to anyone who has questions about anything related to running.

  • Ben
    2019-06-27 16:17

    Although Cameron Stracher in, "Kings of the Road", writes about the American running boom which occurred in the 1970s many of his arguments about the sport are still pertinent to this day and age and not just in the States.It is a fascinating look at the nascent period of running before it turned into the boom of the eighties and which, although Stracher disagrees, continues to this day. Stracher places the development in its historical context as the more innocent free loving America of the sixties gave way to a darker introspection as the country struggled with Civil Rights, Vietnam and gender equality. Indeed up until the early 1970s many people still regarded long distance running as harmful to women's health.Stracher brings out the rivalries and very different backgrounds of his three main protagonists very effectively and shows how the rise of running dovetailed with the development of better equipment and training methods. It was also an era still overshadowed by the conflict of amateurism and professionalism which Stracher argues was part of the problem when the boom turned to bust.According to Stracher long distance running entered the public's consciousness in February 1978 when Jim Fixx's, "The Complete Book of Running" became the number one best selling non-fiction title. That he dropped dead of a heart attack in 1984 aged 52 was used by some to mark the end of the running boom. However becoming a runner, after being an overweight heavy smoker before, probably added to his life expectancy. There are a lot of interesting digressions along the way such as Stracher's dismissal of bare foot running saying that today, "only a fool or fanatic would train for a marathon in bare feet, and the number of elite athletes racing barefoot is exactly zero."As interesting as the book is I disagree with Stracher's overall theme that the running boom also inevitably led to its downfall. Stracher's main contention in conclusion is that the growth of running has slowed the median pace in a typical race and that commercialization has `ruined' the sport as it has become more about the mass participants than the elite runners. As more people enter races then the average pace will be slower. It is true that some marathons such as London have become too commercial in the amount of charity places available and there has been controversy over payment to some athletes to take part. There are plenty of races that promote the taking part rather than the running with their emphasis on goody bags and on site retail. There are also plenty of running clubs that put on small scale no frills events as well which are about the running.Does this mean that the boom is over though? Surely in this sedentary age any form of running is to be encouraged and applauded and as Stracher himself says in his final paragraph;"In the end, running fast is not about fame or fortune. It is not even about winning. It is about pushing the human body to the limit...It is about staring at death and beating it back, kicking it hard to the other side of the road. `No, not today. I've got a race to run.'"

  • Kate
    2019-06-25 17:11

    I've been reading this book I gave to my dad several father's days ago about when running "went boom" in the 1970's. Specifically, the book is about Alberto Salazar, Frank Shorter, and Boston marathon champion Bill Rodgers. Stracher writes that in the 1970's, "running was both a symptom of Sisyphean despair and the antidote to discontent and torpor. One foot in front of the other, a meaningless activity, and yet the most profound." I also liked how he points out that distance runners often share the following traits: asceticsm, introversion, neurosis. He writes: "You could not run mile after mile at a sub 5 minute pace without a bizarre dedication to self-abnegation." Interesting! I can be a little neurotic about my running when I am into it, and I know lot's of other runners who are or were the same way (my dad included). Once you know you can do 6 or 13 miles at a decent pace, you want to go out and do that every time.Another interesting quote on page 68: "Running is also an evolutionary imperative. Human beings may not be the fastest animals on the planet (in fact we are slower than wart-hogs, grizzly bears, and the ordinary housecoat), but we are one of the few animals built to run long distances. Our feet are rigid, with an arch for propulsion and shock absorption. The tendons in our legs store energy and release it efficiently. Our thin waists and relatively large butt muscles help keep us upright and stable. More important, our hairlessness, two million sweat glands, and ability to breathe through our mouths enabled our fore bearers to stay cool as they hunted prey over long distances, literally running it to the ground." So human beings evolved to be good at distance running for "endurance hunting," and eventually pleasure!Stracher was not a proponent for barefoot running (82): "Although it is fashionable to ignore the advances in footwear technology and to run barefoot, there is little evidence that running without shoes reduces injuries or increases performance. Barefoot runners take shorter strides, and the increased frequency of foot strikes results in the same cumulative imp ace on their body as shod runners who land on their heels. In addition, according to a recent study, barefoot running may increase 'tensile stress within the plantar flexors' and 'contact pressures on the metatarsals.' In other words, running without cushioning hurts out feet and can lead to injuries." I have always been skeptical about barefoot running too.I couldn't believe Rodgers' training where he ran repeat miles or three-quarter miles at a pace of 4:40 to 4:50 per mile, with a two-minute recovery between them Then doing an "easy" run of ten to eighteen miles in the afternoon. Averaging 30 miles a day with a weekly average of around 120 and as high as 151. Insane!!!!!!!Finally, I liked how this author stressed not to go out too fast in races, or even everyday jogs. My dad has been telling me this for years, and it really is true. You've got to pace yourself.Good read!!!!!!!! Thanks, dad. I wish I could talk to you about it.

  • Matthew
    2019-07-21 17:23

    Kings of the Road is the story of running in its golden age in America, its rise in popularity and growth told through the lens of one race—the Falmouth Road Race from 1973 to 1982. In that decade Falmouth was dominated by three men—Shorter, Rodgers, and the youthful Salazar—who rose from obscurity to become national heroes. Falmouth was the brainchild of Tommy Leonard, an eccentric bartender from Boston, and high school coach John Carroll. In 1973, at twelve noon, the first “Falmouth marathon” was run—a seven mile race between two bars in Cape Code. There were 93 participants. In 1976, just the fourth running of the race, Shorter, Rodgers, and Salazar lined up among more than two thousand runners officially registered for Falmouth. (Another five hundred would run unofficially.) The running boom was well underway. Frank Shorter’s 1972 Olympic medal had sparked America’s love affair with running and introduced the sport to the Reagan generation optimistic about “morning again in America.” Just a few years later, in 1975 Bill Rodgers would became the first American to run a marathon under 2:10 and is still the only runner to win both the New York City and Boston Marathons four times. And in 1981, Alberto Salazar set a world record, running the New York City Marathon in 2:08:13. In Shorter, Rodgers, and Salazar, Stracher’s narrative finds its conflict and drama. Like the races they ran, the story is compelling and fast paced. Shorter is the veteran, Rodgers the challenger, and Salazar the student eager to surpass his mentors. Their exploits weave the fabric of this narrative as they rewrite record books and inspire a whole generation to lace up their running shoes for the first time.

  • Kristi Mangan
    2019-06-25 12:29

    This was fascinating to me because I'm an avid runner and because I heard many of these names and stories from my dad, who idolized Salazar and ran the famous 1980 NYC marathon recounted here. The colorful history of the late 70s running boom is interesting and the contrasts between race organization then and now are striking (elites running around spectators on the course, the fact that the first NYC marathon was run down stairs in one section because the city refused to close roads ...). Stracher's description of running mechanics and the breakdown in a runner's physique over time were riveting (and, well, super depressing). He did lose points with me, though, for his sometimes snobbish tone and criticism of average-Joe runners for watering down current-day competition. A good history of an era of running for runners.

  • Dustin
    2019-07-16 11:39

    I once met Bill Rodgers at a running store while picking up my bib for a local race. He was there signing autographs and most people didn't have a clue who he was. It was sort of sad. I was thinking this guy won the Boston and NYC marathons 4 times, and people were more interested in the shoe sale rack and their goody bag. I had a great conversation with him about training and his racing career. I was the only person wanting to talk with him.I share that story to say that this book will not appeal to many people. Many today don't have any idea what these guys accomplished in the running world. Many people could care less. They were not super stars who made millions of dollars. A non-runner would probably not enjoy it, but runners will like learning about the history of our sport. This was my first summer read for 2015. Great Book!!!

  • Sam Gross
    2019-06-30 14:41

    Fascinating story of names I'd heard of but people with whom I was not familiar from an age before the African powerhouses took over long distance running. I have mixed emotions though about the author's concluding comments; that the boom in running as a mass participation activity coincided with a downturn amongst elite performances. I accept the premise but feel that argument fails to acknowledge the wonder that is mass participation running events today. The feeling of camaraderie amongst strangers at the beginning of a modern day race lifts my heart every time I experience it - and I feel that the world might be an even darker place were it not for such uplifting moments. That said, anyone interested in running and it's rise in popularity during the 1970s should definitely read this book about its pioneers

  • Wesley Ward
    2019-07-18 13:14

    Stracher wrote this book not from the tradition stand point: basing performances off of the marathon (usually Boston), but off of the founding of a race in Cape Code, the Falmouth 7-miler.The book was well researched and a fast read, that I really enjoyed. Gave great insights to the founding of the NYC Marathon, Falmouth, and race management, with a section near the back of the book talking about the sport today and the issues that we face. It lacked extraordinary writing or moments in the book to leave a stronger impression.For the serious runner, a suggested read. But not as strongly as other more classic books (Once a Runner, Running With The Buffaloes)

  • Bridget
    2019-07-13 18:31

    Some interesting facts about the rise of running in the era of Shorter, Rodgers, and Salazar. But as a runner who participates in races as a way to have fun and stay healthy, I found the author's pessimism about the future of running in the U.S. to be frustrating. Race participation does not hinder an elite group from focusing on performance. I believe the author's frustration about running in the U.S. is misplaced. There may be a failure of our institutions to support elite runners, but that is largely unrelated to the average runner and I see no reason why he should disparage people who are just trying to get out there and do something good for themselves.

  • Mike
    2019-07-06 18:18

    Great to relive those heady running years of the 70s and 80s, this book has a Boston-centric view of running, which is fine with me since I knew least about the east coast running scene. It's amazing the running boom ever happened but was it really as popular as the author made it seem? I'm not sure. It's certainly true that American runners no longer dominate and I think the author is right when he says the decline is due in part to the lack of clubs, or groups where top runners can congregate and train together or at least share training ideas with one another

  • Heather Durick
    2019-06-26 16:18

    I really, really wanted to like this book. I liked the history and how the author attempted to weave the stories of these three greats together. Somehow he completely failed and ends up with disjointed narrative which doesn't really help tell the story of the running boom. What really kills this book is the author's snarky, know it all commentary sprinkled throughout and in the epilogue. He seems to think that the rise of the recreational marathoner has killed the competitiveness of US marathon runners and has an especially irritating tone regarding the slow pace of women runners.

  • kyle pellét
    2019-06-28 16:41

    There are a lot of errors in this book, many of which should be obvious to any runner with a knowledge of the sport's history or any person who can use Wikipedia. Those errors are the whole reason I bothered to write this. They're super distracting. To name a few: Heartbreak Hill is one of the Newton Hills and not the four hills together, Rodgers didn't win the Boston Marathon four times in a row, Onitsuka Tiger wasn't bought by Asics, and Salazar doesn't coach Ryan Hall.

  • Rob
    2019-07-11 18:40

    It was good to learn that Frank Shorter has not been known for his warmth. The author's anecdote regarding this: "According to a friend, once while he [Shorter] was running with his girlfriend, she stumbled and fell, and rather than helping her up, he simply told her to watch herself." Page 101I met Frank Shorter once as a 17-year-old kid and was able to get a half-hearted, on-the-go handshake. I definitely noticed his lack warmth, and yet loved him all the more for it.

  • Joseph
    2019-06-26 19:37

    One of the top books on American distance running I've read. This was the era that influenced me as a runner and brought back tons of memories. I like the author's take on how road races have become dumbed down and are no longer viewed as a sport but more party for gym rats, all at the expense of the elite runners.

  • Tom Sakell
    2019-07-23 18:35

    ugh. A good topic -- how 3 elite road runners rose and faded -- for a short book, this book is written so ... poorly. Is he a bad writer, was it written in 2 weeks, was it rewritten by a bad editor or totally rewritten from a good editor reading cocktail napkins? The best story is on Alberto Salazar, and neatly explains his 2 near-death experiences in road races, running beyond exhaustion.

  • Sean Branson
    2019-06-27 11:11

    As I gear up for another marathon, I thought it was only fitting that I read this new book about the history of the sport. Cameron Stracher gets into the birth of the road running craze and touches upon the roots of the New York Marathon. That being said, although this reads like a regular history book, I don't know if anybody other than the hardcore runner would really find it entertaining.

  • Andrew Kiluk
    2019-07-20 18:18

    Great synopsis of a special period in distance running in America. I was in middle school in the late 70s and ran cross country and track - never any good , I none the less , lived to run and followed the exploits of Rodgers , Shorter , and Salazar the way some people following NASCAR. A great trip down memory lane, well written , concise- will make you want to hit the pavement.

  • JDK1962
    2019-07-22 12:20

    Ok, nothing special. Especially disliked the snarky tone of the epilogue (sorry Cameron, the vast majority of us aren't elites and are running only against with it). Briefly covered the careers of Shorter, Rodgers, and Salazar, but poor to middling coverage of the "boom."

  • Ted
    2019-07-02 17:28

    These stories are well known to most running fans, but it's nice to see them all in one book. Great photos, too. "Duel in the Sun," John Brant's book about the 1982 Boston Marathon, has a more perceptive explanation of the running boom.

  • Tim
    2019-07-15 12:15

    A well written narrative of the '70s running boom. I really appreciated the drawn out stories of particular running duels and the suspense Stracher depicts. Most writing about running does not emphasize the competitiveness of the sport like this.

  • Vance J.
    2019-07-03 18:28

    Real nice review and analysis of the people who were responsible for launching the running boom in the US. I recommend this book to serious runners who are curious about the time when long distance running became popular on a large scale.