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Duel in the Sun: Alberto Salazar, Dick Beardsley, and America's Greatest Marathon
Synopses & Reviews
John Brant re-creates the tense drama of the 1982 Boston Marathon--and the powerful forces of fate that drove these two athletes in the years afterwards
"One was a humble farm boy from Minnesota. The other was the most electrifying distance runner of his time. In 1982, they battled stride for stride for more than two hours in the most thrilling Boston Maraton ever run. Then the drama really began. . . ." Thus John Brant sets the stage for the epic race that took place 23 years ago between Alberto Salazar and Dick Beardsley. Since Beardsley was only 26 and Salazar 23 at the time, everyone assumed that this would be the start of a long and glorious rivalry.
Instead Beardsley soon began a descent into drug addiction that brought him perilously close to dying. Salazar's decline was more gradual, his vigor slowly giving way to baffling symptoms that left him completely exhausted. Brant's portraits of the painkiller-addicted Beardsley and the depression-plagued Salazar are at once sensitive and hair-raising. The supporting characters are also richly drawn, from Alberto's father, Jose Salazar, a towering presence with a fascinating history and a former close friend of Fidel Castro, to Bill Squires, Beardsley's coach, a Casey Stengel-like figure whose oddball goofiness masks an encyclopedic knowledge of distance running. This elegantly written story is riveting nonfiction at its very best.
"In 1982, Alberto Salazar and Dick Beardsley ran the entire 26.2 miles of the Boston Marathon neck and neck, finishing within two seconds of each other. For both, it was the pinnacle of a running career cut short, for Salazar because of a mysterious malaise, and for Beardsley because of a drug addiction that developed after a farm accident. Brant, a Runner's World writer, weaves the tension of the race into the story of the decline of both runners. He's clearly a running enthusiast; few others would write of the race as 'one of the signature moments in the history of distance running — perhaps, in the history of any sport.' The story is sad yet triumphant; despite the end of serious running careers, both men made successes of their lives. Brant tells their tales reverently; his style creates distance instead of allowing readers into the runners' heads. While Brant's writing tends to be unfocused and melodramatic (when describing the women watching the marathon, he writes that they sounded 'like Zulu women ululating on the hot road to Durban, raging gleeful keening'), runners especially will enjoy the suspense of the race. B&w photo insert." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
The 1982 Boston Marathon was great theater: Two American runners, Alberto Salazar, a celebrated champion, and Dick Beardsley, a gutsy underdog, going at each other for just under 2 hours and 9 minutes. Neither man broke. The race merely came to a thrilling, shattering end, exacting such an enormous toll that neither man ever ran as well again. Beardsley, the most innocent of men, descended into felony drug addiction, and Salazar, the toughest of men, fell prey to depression. Exquisitely written and rich with human drama, John Brant's Duel in the Sun brilliantly captures the mythic character of the most thrilling American marathon ever run—and the powerful forces of fate that drove these two athletes in the years afterward.
Brant re-creates the tense drama of the 1982 Boston Marathon and the powerful forces of fate that drove runners Alberto Salazar and Dick Beardsley in the years afterwards.
About the Author
JOHN BRANT has written regularly for Runner's World since 1985 and has been a contributing editor for Outside magazine since 1992. His writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Rolling Stone, and National Geographic Adventure, among other publications. The Runner's World feature, on which this book is based, was included in Best American Sports Writing 2005. Brant lives in Portland, Oregon.
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