“100 MILES to DESTINY”, Willis B McCarthy, Hignell Book Printing, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, 2007, pp. 285
This is a total work of fiction but based in the running world realm. The author, Will McCarthy, is a long-distance runner with an impressive log of 100 mile ultras including, the Western States 100, Leadville and others. When I met him he was the coach at Serra High School in San Mateo (my alma mater) and selling this book literally out of his car (at his Crystal Springs Invite). It was interesting to talk to the author about his thought process and premise.
The premise came about after his experience at the 1984 Western States. It is the fictional story of an Olympic event, a 100 miler, on the Western States course. It is a story of running, ultrarunning, nationalistic pride and maybe a bit stereotypical. I think the premise of an Olympic 100 miler is novel and the fact that it follows the Western States map and the author’s experience really makes you feel like you are watching the event unfold in a very realistic way. However, not having run an ultra myself, this is pure speculation.
The writing, in itself, is not spectacular but the storyline was intriguing and the pace was very good. I think it will be an interesting read because of the author’s running experience. Overall it is an easy read and the story kept me captivated from beginning to end. The protaganists are mostly from Europe, Mexico, Russia, Japan and the U.S. The lack of African participants is due in part to the fact that it is set in 1984 and from the mid 70’s to the mid 80’s, European, American, Japanese and Russian runners were dominant in the distance events. This was also the period that preceded the end of the Cold War and that plays an obvious part of the storyline.
I think all runners will enjoy this book in the continuing quest for good realistic fiction about running and a running book written by a runner. (still looking forward to the next novel by Empire Runner Ty Strange). 100 MILES to DESTINY is a worthwhile and entertaining read although not on the level of the John L Parker series(“ONCE A RUNNER”, etc).
Not sure how one can get a copy although I think I saw it advertised in Running Times and/or Trail Runner mags. I, of course, have a copy which I am willing to loan out but would like back.
Rating: Story : 4.5/5 Writing: 3/5