Book Review: Staying the Course

Staying the CourseI read, and reviewed, the book Duel in the Sun a few years ago and learned about the 1982 Boston Marathon, which has gone down in the history books as one of the most exciting marathons of all time. Last weekend I did some volunteer work at a race where Dick Beardsley was speaking. Beardsley is one of the two runners involved in the duel of the ’82 Boston Marathon.

I got a chance to chat with Mr. Beardsley at length. He was signing books and chatting with the crowd. Because I was a volunteer there I was able to catch him when there was no one around. I really enjoyed my 10 minute conversation with him. I bought the book he wrote several years ago titled Staying The Course: A Runner’s Toughest Race.

Staying The Course is an autobiography of his running career and his involvement with and recovery from addictions. The first half of the book takes the reader through that famous Boston Marathon while the second half leads you through his spiral into substance abuse. Unlike Duel in the Sun though, this book has a much more satisfying conclusion. While Dick Beardsley’s story is not yet over, this book concludes with an air of certainty of where his life is headed. At the end of Duel in the Sun I was not sure that Beardsley had gotten in control of his addictions. Staying the Course removes my doubts.

If you ever get a chance to meet Dick Beardsley you will find that he really is as upbeat and positive as his book portrays him to be.

As I was reading the book I was struck by how much I enjoyed reading a man brag about his accomplishments. Of course he has to tell about what has taken place in his life, but you don’t feel like he is bragging. The man makes his living by going to races and talking about himself. He has learned how to talk about himself so that the audience does not feel he is being braggadocios. Therefore his memoir is readable and not boastful.

Signed my shoesThe writing style did not flow very well at times. Some passages had to be read over to understand what was being said. However, when I was reading those same passages out loud to the family, they seemed to make more sense. I think some of the writing was probably just a transcription of speeches he has given. It sounds good to the ears, but sometimes hard to read for the eyes and brain. People talk about being conversational in your writing style; this book may be a bit too conversational.

The book contains some swearing, which was a big reason I did not like Duel in the Sun and considered taking it back to the store. But the amount of foul language in this book was minimal. And, unlike Duel in the Sun, it was limited to direct quotes.

I highly recommend this book. My opinion of the book may be skewed because I have met the author and had a good experience with him, but that is part of the “Dick Beardsley Package.” How could I have a bad opinion of the man who indulged me enough to sign my New Balance running shoes?

Staying The Course by Dick Beardsley. 2002. University of Minnesota Press. 203 pages.

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