Running for The Hansons, by Sage Canaday: RBR Book Review by Jeff Benjamin, note by Larry Eder

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book cover of "Running For The Hansons"

Our own Jeff Benjamin reviews the new book, Running for the Hansons, by Sage Canaday. Overall, Benjamin recommends the book.....
 
So what do you do if you ran a 4:30 high school mile, go to Cornell and get coached by LetsRun.com's Robert Johnson, who helps you reach the NCAA XC Championships and earn an Ivy League 10k Championship? Why try to run an Olympic Trials qualifying time in the marathon (attempted twice!) with the coaches' blessing! Sage Canady achieved all of this, and competed at the 2007 Olympic Marathon trials as the youngest competitor, a race he did not finish. But he wanted more. His subsequent decisions about what to do to try and develop  a national, world-class career is written about by Canady in his inspirational, blunt, and humorous autobiographiocal account Running For the Hansons.
 
Like may post-collegians, Canaday had to make decisions about whether to pursue job opportunites or test for himself what he could get out of his running. Canady's philosophy unfortunately reflects the options, stress, and economic woes which have continued to plague our American distance runners since the birth of the modern Olympics.

The most important factor to this day--Lack of Support-- plagues Canady just as it had Bill Rodgers, Frank Shorter, Steve Prefontaine, Tom Fleming and others. If you are new to the sport, you have to wonder in astonishment how one of the richest countires on earth, with it's reputation for fielding great Olympic Teams, lets it young talent fend for themselves economically while trying to train properly.

If you've been around, Canady is sadly speaking for the current generation of hungry, young, motivated distance runners who are experiencing deja vu all over again! Canady writes, "I've always tried to be a realist. But what does a 2:15 marathon get you these days? Not much in anything in terms of financial incentive. I guess it is a matter of self-exploration, curiosity derived from trying to find out where your body's limits are and then testing them...I think that's why we keep doing this shit." Bill Rodgers could not have said it better.
 
Like these runners before him, Canady does not let this deter him. He eventually is invited to join the nationally recognized Hansons-Brooks Distance Project and moves to Michigan to be trained under the duo of Kevin and Keith Hanson, who have nobly and successfully attempted to fill the void by supporting post-collegiate distance runners in their dreams. Canadys' ultimate dream--the 2012 US Olympic Marathon trials.
 
While a little jumpy in some sections of the book (where he goes off on a few tangents), Canaday's book is a MUST-READ for any distance runner curious about the next level. SACRIFICE, COMMITMENT and DEDICATION are the major components of this book.

One cannot help but admire the qualities of the athletes and coaches, who attempt to rise to the next level, often at the expense of giving up years of their lives and future to pursue something which is not guaranteed in the quiet, low key lifestyle of Rochester Hills, Michigan . Add to that the tough winters as well!

The book is also filled with great training ideas, as well as little bios about fellow Hansoners' Desiree Davilla, Brian Sell, Clint Verran and others.It is also replete with photos, training logs, and solid training advice. The support and training given by the Hanson Brothers and Brooks is very evident as well. Canady's social and body issues also add hilarity and realism to the book as well.
 
But the book keeps playing the same theme over and over, which notes  the sacrifice and the time given up by athletes like Canady and others as they pursue their chance for glory. Even among the Hansons, one must work in their stores, and though it is a much more supportive environment than the average 9 to 5 bustle, it can also take a toll, as Sage writes about when he discusses the departure of 2:13 marathoner Nick Arciniaga.
 
One would hope that this book would resonate not just with our fellow runners, but also with the general public who might come to appreciate the devotion of countless hours that Canady and other athletes have trained in their pursuit of the 2012 Olympics. Has the Hansons Project helped Canady? Well, he qualified for the trials by running a 1:04:32 1/2 marathon and  also dropped his marathon PR by 3 minutes to 2:16:52!

With the unpredictability of the marathon, one cannot help but root for him as he attempts to put all his training and inspiration into pursuing his dream!  As he writes, "This was it...you are only young once! I was willing to make some sacrifices to pursue what most in society would view as a silly and selfish pipe dream. But I did not care. I had lived the last decade of my life obsessing about running...plus the 2012 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials loomed."

Well said Sage, and good luck!!

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