One of my favorite books in the whole world is “Duel in the Sun.”

Have you ever read it? It’s an incredible tale of the race between Dick Beardsley and Alberto Salazar during the 1982 Boston Marathon, where Alberto was named the winner by two seconds. John Brant, who also writes for Runner’s World, is extremely talented and knows how to build up the story to a remarkable point.

As I mentioned the other day, I love Dick Beardsley. He has gone through a lot — some may even say he’s gone to hell and back — and still has a smile on his face and a love for life. I was lucky enough to see him and Alberto speak at the Boston Marathon last April as they celebrated the 20th anniversary of Duel in the Sun, which was a defining point in each man’s career.

I recently read both of their autobiographies — “Staying the Course” by Dick and “14 Minutes” by Alberto. (yeah, we’re on a first name basis. nbd.)

Dick talks a lot about his running career and how he was continually shocked at where he was — after all, he was just a boy from Minnesota. I get that feeling in NYC sometimes, where it’s like do I really belong here? I’m just a small town girl! Which I think is another great thing about Dick, he is quite relatable.


For Alberto, Duel in the Sun was also defining as in some ways, it marked the peak of his career due to depression (which was not a common diagnosis at the time). In 2007, Alberto had a heart attack and was clinically dead for 14 minutes. For most people, this would mean they were, well, dead. For Alberto, he was able to come back and now serves as a coach to top elite runners, including Galen Rupp. However, even his doctors aren’t sure what caused his heart attack… was it genes? Or was it this race in the sun, where he could have done permanent damage from not drinking enough water?

Both men have gone on unique journeys through life… and both have unique ways of sharing their lives. After reading Dick’s book, I felt like he was a long lost family friend. Someone that I could meet in real life and pick up a conversation with no problem.

Alberto, on the other hand, left me feeling like, if I had the opportunity to meet him, he would be reserved and require some time to get to know. He seems to be a calculated man; one who would help you become a better person because he would inspire you to push your limits.

So, which one should you read? All of the above. Seriously, you won’t be disappointed with any of them and you will learn a great deal from each of them. I personally love “Duel in the Sun” the best and it is one of my marathon traditions to read it before the race for extra inspiration.


What’s your favorite running book? Have you read either autobiography?

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