Menzies-Pike’s engaging book braids together feminist and literary theory, cultural criticism, history, and a moving personal narrative that explores the ways in which physical movement can lead to transcendence in the face of tragedy. After her parents’ plane crash immobilizes her with grief, Menzies-Pike, editor of the Sydney Review of Books, returns home from wandering the world to run on a treadmill. As she trains for her first race, she recounts the challenges early female runners faced. Violet Percy ran a marathon (and set a record) in short heels at a time when women were told running would imperil their fertility. In the 1960s, “women in the United States were forbidden from racing any distance over a mile and a half.” Men tried to drag early female Boston Marathon runners off the course. Ultimately, the narrative is one of reserved success. Women’s running has gained wider acceptance, though some women worry about running alone at night, and running remains largely a sport of the privileged. The frequent transitions between memoir and criticism can be jarring, but this is still an important and fascinating record of women’s running experiences. (May)
Elegant and erudite….The most resonant parts of [Menzies-Pike's] narrative deal with her own personal loss, and how tightly it becomes interwoven with her experiences as a runner….Gorgeously written and extremely moving.” —The Atlantic
"Satisfies in every way." —Oprah.com
“Menzies-Pike’s engaging book braids together feminist and literary theory, cultural criticism, history, and a moving personal narrative…Important and fascinating.” —Publishers Weekly
"You don’t have to be a runner to appreciate The Long Run....Engrossing." —Bustle
"Honest, funny, and moving." —Kirkus Reviews
“This engaging memoir navigates the complexities, misconceptions, and the oppression of female runners in film, literature, and art throughout history. It will leave an impression on women and runners alike.” —Library Journal
"In The Long Run, Catriona Menzies-Pike illuminates one of running’s great contradictions: incredible restoration found through repeated breakdown. Drawing on her own journey from grieving daughter to confident racer, as well as the experiences of female pioneers who paved the way, The Long Run offers a convincing nudge for all of us to get out there and let the open roads work their magic."
—Becky Wade, professional marathoner and author of Run the World: My 3,500-Mile Journey Through Running Cultures Around the Globe
“Catriona Menzies-Pike’s narrative opens up the possibility that we can redefine our world through running. She seamlessly and brilliantly weaves history with her own life in a way that feels both personal and accessible, shedding a unique light on the sport and the women who have pursued it.”
—Alexi Pappas, creator of Tracktown, essayist, and Olympic athlete
"Running is about so much more than exercise: running is about freedom, healing, introspection and community. It is about using your soles to search your soul—and this wonderful book captures that feeling so well. Running through these pages with Catriona Menzies-Pike is as rejuvenating as a dash down the trail where your burdens can be, if not left behind, at least carried more easily. This is a book of rebirth, effort, courage, and caring—the qualities few runners expect but the lucky ones find." —Tom Foreman, author of My Year of Running Dangerously
“The Long Run weaves the rewards of a running life with the sport’s rich history. An educational, entertaining and soulful journey through the miles.”
—Deena Kastor, American Record holder and Olympic medalist, marathon
A decade after her parents died in a plane crash when she was 20, Menzies-Pike (editor, Sydney Review of Books) went for a run. In a cloud of grief, she could hardly recall the beginnings of her running exploits; however, several years later she has gone from self-destructive behavior to finding a healthier way to manage her sorrow. It started out as a belief that she could run the City2Surf race on her home turf of Sydney and led to training for a marathon. Along the way, she discovered a fascinating yet tumultuous past regarding women runners (or lack thereof). Women in history were often restricted from such exercise; sweating and overexerting themselves was considered unfeminine, not to mention the dire physical consequences a female would endure from running. As recently as 1984, there wasn't even a women's marathon category in the Olympics. VERDICT This engaging memoir navigates the complexities, misconceptions, and the oppression of female runners in film, literature, and art throughout history. It will leave an impression on women and runners alike.—Melissa Keegan, Ela Area P.L., Lake Zurich, IL
A memoir of running, endurance, and overcoming grief.When Sydney Review of Books editor Menzies-Pike's parents were killed in a plane crash, she didn't know how to handle her grief. At age 20, she was suddenly faced with being the oldest in the family, in charge of her siblings and the estate, but all she wanted to do was run away from the responsibilities. It took 10 years, time spent in school, traveling, and making bad decisions, before the author laced up her shoes and started running on a treadmill to figure out the next phase of her life. In this honest, funny, and moving memoir, which also serves as a meditation on the place of women in the running world, Menzies-Pike reveals how she worked through her fears and found her own rhythm amid the clamor of running long-distance races. Beginning with a half-marathon wasn't easy, but the author explains how she navigated the training one run at a time and gradually found the ability to run outside, ignoring the catcalls and many fears about being attacked, slipping, or being too tired to get back home. Interspersed with her personal reflections is an interesting history of the female pioneers who first entered the sport of running, of how they overcame the stigmas of their time and gradually forced competitions to accept them in races, which in turn provided a gateway for product development of shoes, sports bras, and clothing for female athletes. For anyone contemplating running a half or full marathon, the author's thoughts on the physical toll these types of runs can take on a body, as well as the joy she experienced after successfully completing them, are highly useful. An authentic account of surviving devastating loss through the art of running.