Thursday, September 14, 2017

Review: The Long Run by Catriona Menzies-Pike

Have you ever driven down the street when it's raining or snowing or it's blistering hot and you see someone out running? Unless you are a runner yourself, you probably write that person off as completely crazy. You might even write off as crazy a runner out on a perfectly temperate day if you aren't a runner yourself. So why exactly do people run? Why do women in particular run? Catriona Menzie-Pike looks at the larger culture of women running through history as well as how she herself came to running to overcome a decade of grief. Her thoughtful and intelligent memoir, The Long Run, is a personal, political, and social history of running.

When Catriona Menzies-Pike was just twenty years old and starting her adult life, her parents were killed in a plane crash. Ten years after that, she started running. If that makes the two sound unconnected, it shouldn't. Running became a good and healthy way for her to find her path through the grief that still sat heavily on her and it also became a way for her to learn about herself and the women who ran before her. Menzies-Pike calls herself a complacent runner rather than a competitive one but even a complacent runner is transformed by the freedom of movement. She stumbled into running a half marathon and found herself while out on the roads and paths she trod. She ran into any number of road blocks on her way to her many races but through it all, she persevered. Woven in with her own personal journey, is the history of the marathon and specifically women's place in that history. She looks at the advances of women in running as a mirror of the growth in feminism, changing social perceptions of women's abilities and place in the world, and the ongoing long run towards equality. The narrative can veer off on tangents and some chapters feel more like essays than through narrative so this is definitely not a traditional memoir but over all it works. Runners, those interested in running history, and feminists will find much to enjoy here. And maybe it will inspire some non-runners to lace up running shoes for the first time and to stride off into the rich history of women running.

Thanks to the publisher and LibraryThing Early Reviewers for sending me a copy of the book to review.

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