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Cross Country 101

Cross Country 101 - Dan Martinez, Stuart Calderwood, Liang Shan Originally posted on my blog Guiltless Reading.
Run your heart out!

The book in one sentence: A teenage boy finds his passion for competitive cross country running.

My two cents: Are you a runner? I used to run for exercise and I know what it feels to get a runner's high! And what can I say about the many health benefits, including my clothes fitting really well! Running is wonderful sport and any activity that will help teenagers develop their sense of worth, their determination, sportsmanship, and sense of team spirit ... I am all for it. Which is why I thought this rather low key book makes for some fantastic reading for teenagers.

Eric Hunt is a typical teenager; just going into highschool, he's awkward and doesn't quite know what to do with himself. His dad, who gained confidence in his own awkward high school days as a football player, is expecting Eric to do the same. But his heart isn't in it and he does it only to please his father.

Years of running from school bullies has made him a quick lithe runner. Ironically, while trying out for the football team, the cross country team coach catches a glimpse of Eric in action and encourages him to try out for his team instead. Little does he know that this would spark something in this young boy.

We follow Eric in his journey in discovering himself and his passion for sport. He contends with the older boys in the team, slowly gaining their respect and showing himself as a valuable team member. He pushes himself to excel not only in his sport but in his academics. He makes friends in the sport and outside of it. Eric also continues running despite his father's disappointment, and to his mother's unflappable encouragement -- who was also a cross country runner during her own highschool days!


I really liked the overall positivity of this book. Its message is quite inspiring and we need to hear more of it!

I found the details fascinating and learned quite a lot about cross country running in this book. This is because the author is a long distance runner himself and his experience provides credibility to the aches and pains associated with running, the mental stamina competitive running requires, as well as how runners strategize their runs.

While I found the content compelling material, the cover and artwork did not appeal to me and I doubt that it will appeal to teenagers. If this book is to reach out to teenagers and would-be runners, I think it deserves a cover and format that is hip and makes running look cool. At the moment, while the art is wonderfully rendered, the book format and look is academic.

Verdict: An engaging and fascinatingly detailed read of how cross country running can make a positive change in a teenager's life. A story of positivity that will get you and your kids wanting to break out those running shoes and cheer extra loudly during your kids' games! Highly recommended for parents, teenagers, and running buffs.


Random quote:
Hundreds of pairs of running shoes are crowded together behind the starting line in the California State Championship Cross Country meet. The shoes are many colors and sizes, but they're all made with an unusual economy of fabric and rubber. The uppers are featherweight nylon. The midsoles are a quarter-inch thick at the heel and decrease in thickness toward the toe--a streamlining that barely allows for cushioning. Tough leather trim holds the shoes together. The thin rubber soles are artfully designed to maintain traction over asphalt, dirt, grass and mud. These shoes are specifically constructed for speed and nothing else. - p. 1, Cross Country 101 by Dan Martinez

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.