Salazar had faced death before, but he survived that and numerous other harrowing episodes thanks to his raw physical talent, maniacal training habits, and sheer will, as well as—he strongly believes—divine grace.
In 14 Minutes, Salazar chronicles in spellbinding detail how a shy, skinny Cuban-American kid from the suburbs of Boston was transformed into the greatest marathon runner of his era. For the first time, he reveals his tempestuous relationship with his father, a former ally of Fidel Castro; his early running life in high school with the Greater Boston Track Club; his unhealthy obsession to train through pain; the dramatic wins in New York, Boston, and South Africa; and how surviving 14 minutes of death taught him to live again.
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About the Author
John Brant has written regularly for Runner's World and Outside magazine. His work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Rolling Stone, and National Geographic Adventure among other publications. Duel in the Sun, on which this book is based, is Brant's first book.
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Excerpted from "14 Minutes"
Copyright © 2013 Alberto Salazar.
Excerpted by permission of Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony/Rodale.
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Q&A with Alberto Salazar, author of 14 MINUTES: A Running Legend's Life and Death and Life 9781609613143 Hardcover $25.99 April 10, 2012 on sale
Why are you writing this book now? You don't fear that another 14 minutes are about to happen, I hope.
Thanks for the concern. But no, I feel fine, my docs tell me I'm in good shape, I haven't weathered any kind of cardiac event for a while, thank God and knock on wood. I wrote this book now because I felt like it was necessary. I wanted to go back over my near-death, take stock of it, see if I could determine its meaning. Anyone who comes back from death like I didand every year, thanks to advances in medical science, those numbers are growingis profoundly changed by the experience. Some people might just feel extremely lucky, others feel they've been singled out by an impersonal fate, and others, and I'm one of them, sense that God saved them for a reason. I wanted to work out what that reason might be, and this book is my way of exploring that question.
So 14 minutes is primarily a religious book?
I wouldn't put that label on it, but I can't separate my faith from my roles as a father, husband, son, athlete, or coach, so I guess the answer is yes. I don't bill myself as any kind of spiritual guide or authority. I was a runner, and now I'm a coach. That's how I'm known, and that's the story I have to tell. But that said, I think 14 Minutes honestly portrays a man's struggle to enact his faith in this time in America, without preaching but also without apology. That's what I'm most proud of about this book, and I hope it can help other people as they work out the meaning in their own lives.
In the book, you tell great stories about your marathonsyour victories in New York City and Boston. For years now those races have been dominated by athletes from the East African nations. You are known as the last great American marathoner. What do you think about that role?
Well, I don't think it's accurate. We've had a number of wonderful American marathoners emerge since my dayJoan Benoit Samuelson, Meb Keflezighi, Deena Kastor, and Ryan Hall, to name a few. As I write in the book, my stardom was largely a matter of timing. I hit my peak at the peak of the first running boom in the early 1980s, when the marathon seemed new and magical. You can't consciously re-create or manufacture that magic. It just happens. I was lucky to be a part of it. But I'm also confident that the next great American marathoner will soon appear. My professional goal, as coach of the Nike Oregon Project, is to help that runner appear. I don't look back. Apart from writing about them in 14 Minutes, I hardly give my past races a thought.
So running remains crucially important to you, but after going through your 14 minutes and coming back from death, you realize that it's not important at all.
Yeah, I know, it's a paradox. But what else is our time here on Earth but a paradox? Giving so you can receive, loving so you can be loved, losing your life so you can find it. I don't pretend to have that one figured out. That's why we read and write books, isn't it?