Rac­ing the Rain

Triathlon Magazine Canada - - FEATURES - CAELA FEN­TON

John L. Parker Jr. Scrib­ner

John L. Parker Jr.’s Rac­ing the Rain is the pre­quel to the beloved run­ning novel, Once A Run­ner, which chron­i­cled the ado­les­cence of fic­tional col­le­giate star Quen­ton Cas­sidy.

Rac­ing the Rain comes nearly 40 years af­ter Once A Run­ner, and the author is writ­ing it from the van­tage point of a man in his late 60s. I was cu­ri­ous to see how he treated the pre-teen Quen­ton Cas­sidy.

Cas­sidy is less of an ego­ma­niac than his older self. Parker de­serves credit for ac­cu­rately depict­ing a sit­u­a­tion that plays out in al­most ev­ery dis­tance run­ner’s life – their first sport­ing love and the tran­si­tion from that, to run­ning.

Rarely does a child jump into run­ning as their pri­mary sport. In Quen­ton Cas­sidy’s case, bas­ket­ball is the sport that he des­per­ately loves and is, in fact, the sport that’s fea­tured in the ma­jor­ity of the novel.

Read­ers don’t have to know much about bas­ket­ball to fol­low along. Parker de­serves credit for his abil­ity to cap­ture the sen­sa­tion of run­ning and rac­ing, and tak­ing read­ers onto the court. The run­ning comes later in the novel. While, un­like in Once a Run­ner, there is no chap­ter ded­i­cated solely to a ridicu­lous 60 x 400 m work­out, there is plenty to un­lock former high-school track and cross-coun­try run­ners’ mem­o­ries of suf­fer­ing. Parker’s hu­mour, wo­ven through­out the novel, oc­ca­sion­ally hits that per­fectly charm­ing note, such as Quen­ton’s first-ever cross-coun­try prac­tice: “Cas­sidy had never seen so many skinny guys in one place in his life.”–

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