Book Review: The Long Run: A Memoir of Loss and Life in Motion

By Catriona Menzies-Pike
Penguin Random House, 2017 (US Edition)

Those wondering what it might be like to set a training goal and then actually go after it will likely enjoy this book.  Australian journalist Catriona Menzies-Pike began training for distance races in the wake of losing her parents in an aviation accident.

Some of the strongest passages describe how the runner's experience narrows to the moment. The Long Run layers such interiority (recovery from grief and engagement with running to find metaphysical flow) with exterior elements (shade trees, geckos, wallabies, steep trails, other runners). The author shares race day jitters and her particular mental prep routines for a big run. This book will likely appeal to anyone who savors personal challenge, either in the realm of sport or in other life-goals. This is definitely a memoir and not a "how-to-win-a-marathon" book.

The Long Run is most compelling when focused on the author's personal training and running regime and her personal life story. Interesting snippets about the history of women runners—as well as instances when women were excluded from competitions—are layered within the memoir narrative. For me, the historical elements distracted from the compelling story of Menzies-Pike’s personal quest. That said, I think the history and political/feminist details about running beg for a book of their own. This author has the determination to pull it off.

Catriona Menzies-Pike Penguin Random House.jpg
Karen Lewis