Book Review: Flanagan’s Run

In our interview with Dr. David Horton, the good doctor mentioned a book that had a big impact on his life.  That book was Flanagan’s Run (William Morrow & Co) by Tom McNab and listener Joey  was intrigued. He bought the book, read it, and shared this quick review with me. Thanks Joey!

From the Amazon description:  At the height of the Depression, in 1931, entrepreneur Charles Flanagan organises the Trans-America race, in which 2,000 runners from across the globe compete for a $150,000 top prize. But the sports establishment tries to scupper what they see as a threat to the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics. No less impressive than the fictional runners’ gruelling three-month journey (50 miles a day through desert and mountains) is the pathos of the individuals’ experiences which McNab creates…


“The athlete represents man at the edge of his limits in an area which few men glimpse, let alone inhabit. We identify with the athlete because we feel this sense that he is one of the privileged few who can go close to reaching his potential, while most of us spend our lives unaware that such a potential even exists.”

This was taken from the book Flanagan’s Run, a fictional story on a Trans-America race from LA to New York taking place during the Depression era. I first heard about this book in David Horton’s podcast on URP and was really interested in looking into it.

From the get-go I was sucked into the story. The author, Tom McNab who was the script consultant for Chariots Of Fire, did an amazing job with making me feel like I was part of the journey.

“I am a runner. I live as a runner. I eat as a runner. I see the weather, the road, the world as a runner. I have come to run fifty miles a day, six days a week.”

The runners run 25 miles in the morning, take a midday rest, then do another 25 in the afternoon. They are fed and sheltered by the race organizers. Simple. It makes you dream about such a life of just pure running. Where all you have to worrying about is the basic necessities in life. Wouldn’t that be nice!? It makes you believe you can run such a long and epic race.

UnknownReading the book, you can relate and almost feel everything they go through. Blistering heat, high altitude, loneliness, freezing temps, pain, togetherness, bliss, suffering, triumphs and the all around beauty of running.

Reading this was just like reading a race report. One that gets you excited for your long runs and one that inspires you to take on your next big racing challenge.

“The winner mustn’t think of three thousand miles, only of the next one. He must live in his own mind, defeating only one man ever day. Always. The same man- himself.”

It seems like whenever someone mentions a running book, it’s Born To Run, Once A Runner or Running With The Buffaloes. I was surprised I have never heard of this book and that no one talks about it. This one should be one of the most talked about running books out there. It’s filled with some of the best running quotes (I had a hard time just picking a few for this review. I have a ton underlined) and even though it isn’t a true story, I learned a lot reading this.

I had a hard time putting the book down and it was one of those reads that you couldn’t wait to get off work so you could continue on. Hopefully in the near future this will be talked about in a lot of running circles. “Hey, did you read Born To Run?” might finally be replaced.

Review by Joey Schricte. Joey blogs at

If you’re interested in purchasing this book, I’d ask you to consider purchasing the book or Audio Version through those links.  It’ll help drop a few nickels into the URP bucket. Thanks!


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