A new review of Keep On Running – from crime-writer Peter Lovesey

“Keep on Running: The Highs and Lows of a Marathon Addict”, by Phil Hewitt, published by Summersdale Publishers, 46, West Street, Chichester, PO19 1RP, http://www.summersdale.com, cost £8.99. More than any other event, the marathon has inspired fine writing, and this outstanding book comes with endorsements from Jo Pavey (“A beautiful description of one man’s passion for the open road”) and Liz Yelling (“A wonderful and frank view of a first-time-marathoner-turned-running-addict”). The writer is the arts editor of several Sussex newspapers who freely admits that he has never troubled the likes of Gebrselassie and never will; indeed, his best time in some twenty-five marathons is 3:20:25. Yet as an insight into what it means to run the great courses, setting his own goals and finding joy in the most unpromising conditions, Phil Hewitt’s book pleased me as much as anything I’ve read since the classic Testament of a Runner, by W.R.Loader (1960). “I thought of the distance we had just run and I thought of what we had achieved in covering it. This is the way the common man smashes Shane Warne back over his head to bring up a triple century at Lords: this is the way we mortals smash home that FA Cup-winning penalty. This is the way we become heroes – if only to ourselves. Sporting glory is there for the taking every time you line up at the start of a marathon – and that’s the seduction.” London, New York, Paris, Amsterdam and Rome are there with lesser known courses, like the aptly-named Steyning Stinger over the Sussex Downs and “mud you could drown in” on the Clarendon Way from Salisbury to Winchester. As a writer, Phil Hewitt never stumbles. After all, this is a book about repeatedly flogging oneself for 26.2 miles, yet never once does he repeat himself. Each chapter is a fresh discovery, an inspiring insight into what it means to be dedicated to this exacting event. It is intimate, honest, entertaining and superbly written. “I was drunk on the whole damned thing, as drunk as I have ever been. It’s a world I love right from the nipple plasters through to the blackened toenails, right from the misery of the lonely long-distance training run to the adrenalin surge of the big-city finishing line.” Peter Lovesey

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