I first learned about the 1982 Boston Marathon through listening to a podcast. I became very interested in the race once I learned a bit about the two main competitors in the race: Alberto Salazar and Dick Beardsley. It was an incredible race in and of itself, but the story behind these two men is just as interesting as the famous Duel in the Sun, as the 1982 Boston Marathon came to be called.
The book, Staying the Course is the autobiography of Dick Beardsley and his take on the famous race. While the race was a defining moment in his life, much of the book is focused on his overcoming substance abuse that controlled his life starting shortly after the race. Besides a focus on his drug problems and the victory he was able to achieve over them, the book is about his successful career as a runner.
The first half of Staying the Course brings the reader up through the '82 Boston Marathon. The second half is about his spiral into substance abuse and eventual recovery. It is an inspirational book. Though I have never had problems with any type of addiction, I can appreciate the fact that many people do struggle and reading a book about someone overcoming his addictions is refreshing.
Here is a bit more about the 1982 race which will give you an idea of the excitement that the story holds. Most people cannot imagine ever running a marathon-26.2 miles. But try to picture two men running most of that distance together while being separated by only a few feet the whole time. Both men are trying their hardest to run the other man into the ground. Neither one gives up. Another book that I read about this race never directly told who the winner of the race was, it only said which man "did not lose." One was crowned the winner, but the other was not a loser. It is a fantastic story.
One of the things that I immediately noticed when I was reading the book was that I was enjoying reading the story of a man who was bragging about himself and his accomplishments. His personality in the book is such that he is reporting facts, not bragging about what he has been able to accomplish in life. I have had the privilege of meeting Dick Beardsley and was struck by his humility-quite a contrast from many who write a book about themselves. I would not describe him as a boastful man, but he is confident, upbeat and positive.
I enjoyed the book as a whole even though there were times that the writing seemed to not flow as well as at other times. I noticed that when reading passages out loud to my family, the writing made more sense. It was almost as if it was written to be spoken instead of just read. I suspect that some parts of the book are transcriptions from speeches he has done.
Even though there are some parts of the book that were a bit hard to follow, I have to say it is a book that I will enjoy reading again.