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Friday, April 9, 2010

Book Review: The Perfect Distance: Ovett & Coe

I read a lot of running books and if you've ever noticed the right hand column of my blog I have a section titled "Favorite Running Books". A running buddy of mine, Paul Mainwaring (a cool chap from the U.K.) noticed the section and asked me if I ever read "A Perfect Distance: Ovett & Coe...and their record breaking rivalry?"...to which I replied..."well no!" I certainly remembered their battles in the '70's and 80's so I couldn't wait to get my hands on it. Paul asked me if he could borrow "Steve Scott: the Miler" so on our next run we swapped books. It was an interesting swap because Scott from Upland, Ca. use to always race against the two Brits. A book club was started...

I enjoyed the book immensely and it makes for an easy read when you are already familiar with a lot of the characters (runners). What was interesting for me were some of the expressions that the Brits use to express themselves. My experience with British dialect was Dr. Watson's famous question to Holmes..."are you going sir?" (Lord) Sebastion Coe was in a unique situation in that he was coached by his father...Peter, and that is what he called him when they were working out on the track. There are many memorable quotes in the book and the one that really hit home for me was from Peter Coe...

"People make a basic mistake: they train to train, they don't train to race!"

Busted! I felt at that moment that he was speaking directly to me. As for Ovett, he was extremely talented and competitive over a wide range of distances both over the country, the roads and of course, the track. The book focused a lot on both of the runners upbringing and parental support/influence. I point this out because it makes you appreciate a lot more of why people are the way they are...

Question: I will be heading to either Barnes & Noble, Joseph-Beth or Border's at some point this weekend to pick up a book. What running book do you recommend?


  1. 'The Gift': A Runner's Story

    'The Greatest' The Haile Gebrselassie Story

  2. Thanks Tim! I'm going to the store today to pick them both up. Not familiar with the first one and of course "Geb" was inspired by Miruts Yifter "the shifter". Looking forward to it...

  3. Maybe you can do book recap during one of our next Miner's Runs

  4. I would enjoy that! Having seen the races, read the stories and listened to the coaches of the various athletes, I feel as though I would be able to give a somewhat accurate assessment of what really happened (without having been there). Thanks!