Book Review: Cross Country 101, Dan Martinez

By Dan Martinez
Former University of Oregon Distance Runner

This is the most interesting running book I have ever read. It is so captivating that I stayed up all night reading it. It is a fictional story, but the book is full of details about real cities, real streets, real running routes, and I think Dan Martinez must have run in those cities and on those streets.

The story is about Eric Hunt, a freshman in a large high school.
His father expects him to go out for football but after being humiliated in a football scrimmage, decides to try cross country. He has some success despite being bullied by Beef and Crush during school. Eric, a slight-of-build frosh then determines -- against student and parental expectations -- to excel at it. He makes varsity squad as his rival Bryce, at Skyline High School, had already accomplished. One on the varsity, Eric struggles through animosity from the upperclassmen while trying to maintain good grades [his coach warns him that he will be dropped from the team if he doesn't get his grades up to a C average].
I think every runner, whether he/she competes in X-C or distance running, should read the book. As fiction, the book is entertaining, but it is full of tips about running. These tips are woven into the story in subtle ways. For example, the following tips are given. Ellie, a girl on the X-C team and the head cheerleader for the high school is waiting for the gun to go off. Eric notices that her shoe is untied, and he walks over to her and mentions that to her. She thanks him and double-knots her shoe. In a race, Eric trips, due to the runners being crowded close to together at the beginning of the race, and he falls down. He gets up, at the urging of his coach, and tries to catch the runners who have left him behind. He runs tangents when going around curves. Experienced runners will enjoy the story, and new runners will enjoy the story and the tips. The tips aren't explained in detail, and new runners may want to refer to tutorial web sites or books for explanations of some of the tips.

Cross Country 101, Running Entertainment, Glendale, CA 91209

ISBN-10: 0985181621
ISBN-13: 978-0-9851816-2-8

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