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Posted September 28, 2012
‘Running Ransom Road, Confronting The Past, One Marathon At A Time,’ by Caleb Daniloff, is an incredible book where the author’s attempt to come to terms with the self-destruction of his past is experienced during the visceral, spiritual, and emotional maelstrom of running a marathon.
The result is perhaps my favorite book on marathoning. It is certainly the one with the most dog-ears on my paperback copy, and definitely the one which spoke most personally to my experience as a marathoner and recovering addict who is constantly running to stay just a few steps faster than the addiction demons nipping at my heels.
What is wonderful about the book is that Daniloff is a gifted writer first, or at least that’s what shines through, and his personality is one which has all of the interesting jagged yet fragile edges of an addict, and with all the determination and stubbornness of a distance runner. The metaphors he uses are tremendous, and I am thinking that a handful of writers could make a living off the scraps of metaphors Daniloff has come up with but never used.
And there isn’t a marathoner out there of all speeds who won’t connect with his writing descriptions. I’ve always felt if running could be fully described, then it wouldn’t be running but something much less, as it’s effects escape meaning that words can give. Daniloff describes the joys of running in a spectrum of phrases that came close, and more importantly, it was clear that he “gets it”- as running elitist as that sounds. The near stream of conscious running descriptions rival those of any running book, and are fresh, subliminal and poetic.
All of this, but you’ll also find the mundane yet near universal experience of navigating a pee in the bushes at the beginning of a marathon, the importance of body-gliding one’s nipples, and the constant runner’s math all of us do trying to push our body past the finish line in some arbitrary time trying to prove we’re worthy.
If you’ve read a ton of running books, you may not have read one like this, and if you’ve read a ton of self-discovery books, where there’s a final AA speech in front of a crowd, and you get your token, and then your spouse appears at the back of the room, and everybody cries, and true love lasts forever, and a REM song plays. No, this is not the one either. Illuminations and epiphanies sprinkle down during runs, and they are received with a questioning uncertainty of one who is always running to figure out who they are. This is what life is, this is especially what recovery is, and as the author states, “No longer do I run from my demons, but with them.” but the run must go on, since, “ you never outrun your demons, but if you maintain forward motion you might just get them to tire a little.”
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