This is a book review by Jeff Benjamin. Jeff Benjamin is our longest-tenured writer. He wrote for American Athletics, American Track & Field, California Track & Running News, runningnetwork.com and runblogrun.com.
Jeff Benjamin is life long runner, and an American History teacher. Jeff has written about most of the major events in the U.S., contributed interviews of major athletes, is the most prolific texter of our 40 correspondents.
Jeff Benjamin loves the sport, and it shows.
Book Review – “What Mad Pursuit” by Rich Elliott
By Jeff Benjamin
If a group of 20 or so running/track nuts ranging from ages of 15-80 and from different parts of America were to gather together and socialize, one would be sure that their backgrounds and attitudes toward the Sport would all be quite different.
On the other hand, those backgrounds and attitudes would no doubt give someone a familiar territorial-like DÃ©jÃ vu feeling amongst those gathered. If there’s anything fellow runners can attest to is that there is a mystical bond that is shared on some level by others who are part of the sport as well.
In his new book “What Mad Pursuit” author Rich Elliott has not only promoted that bond of familiarity, but has also produced it for runners who need not gather, which is something unique and welcomed in the Covid world!
In a collection of short stories, Elliott brings to life unique events and people which one can say many of us have encountered throughout the years of devotion we give to the Sport, both positive and negative. Interwoven into these stories are not factual or steady tone narratives, but rather behaviors and certain challenges, both up and down (and at times bizarre!) , which are experienced by the characters as it relates to Running.
And while many characters seem to be fictitious (?), Elliott manages to inject familiar real-life people as well, notably Steve Prefontaine, but maybe not how readers have viewed him before, or maybe they have.
This off-balance approach also lends great weight to the book, in that the reader does not just emerge inspired from one story, but can feel humorous and/or dark after reading another story.
After all, Running lessons have also related to Life lessons as well.
We all can relate to it along with the different personalities, whether it’s Cora the high school phenom, the brother-sister combo of Jerry and Didi, the driven mind of Finn along with the overzealous coach Zeek McCutcheon, many runners can say that they have encountered these types of people in our journeys.
Reading through Elliott’s book is almost like doing interval work, where someone who’s going through it feels a variety of emotions while pushing the body to its limits, then backing off and then revving it up again. When the reader tackles “What Mad Pursuit”, one is also able to push the mind to its limits as well.
And just like interval work with its painful and pleasurable challenges, reading through this book you’ll find the drive to rev it up again and not stop.
“What Mad Pursuit” is available on Amazon.