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Running with the Buffaloes: A Season Inside with Mark Wetmore, Adam… (edition 2003)

by Chris Lear

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1166104,032 (3.72)3
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Title:Running with the Buffaloes: A Season Inside with Mark Wetmore, Adam Goucher, and the University of Colorado Men's Cross-Country Team
Authors:Chris Lear
Info:The Lyons Press (2003), Edition: 1st, Paperback, 288 pages
Collections:Read before joining LibraryThing, Recommended Books
Rating:****
Tags:sports

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Running with the Buffaloes: A Season Inside with Mark Wetmore, Adam Goucher, and the University of Colorado Men's Cross- by Chris Lear

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I like this kind of reporting. It reminds me of "A Season Inside" John Feinstein's inside account of a college basketball season from inside the perspective of a number of teams and coaches. Of course, it isn't nearly as good as Feinstein's work, but there really is only one John Feinstein. The technique of 'embedding' a journalist (please forgive the term) with a team for a season works and I really like the personal perspective that we get on Colorado's 1998 Cross Country season.

I'm a running geek (but I like to read about it more than I like to do it) so I really liked some of the insight into Coach Mark Wetmore's approach to training his athletes. I like that they explain the influence of Lydiard on his training philosophy and especially the question of talent versus preparation in achieving the highest levels of success. These are really the strength of the book.

Where it starts to break down is in how the author presents the runners' personal thoughts and statements. For whatever reason, these come across as flat and boring, its as if the journalist paid too much attention to reporting their words and not enough to communicating the experience of being on an elite team of runners. On the other hand, I don't know how to really convey what it means to run multiple 100+ mile weeks in singles other than to do it, and that will never happen. Still, that is what I expect from a journalist or a running writer and this book did not really deliver that.

Overall though, I'm very happy to have read this book. I wish there was more out there, since I think cross country is a fabulous sport that deserves close attention and there is drama and meaning in the life of a runner that the literature has yet to capture. Running with the Buffalos has the advantage of being a non-fiction account, but still lags behind Once a Runner as a capturing of the essence of distance running with pen and ink.

I hope more people continue to contribute to this neglected field of literature. ( )
  nnschiller | Sep 18, 2014 |
Befriend the players and coaches of a top-five ranked athletics team, including their phenom destined for professional greatness, and chronicle their last season together. This is a recipe for a best-selling book. Usually, it features a football or basketball team, not a cross-country team. Chris Lear follows the training of the Colorado Buffalos men's cross-country team during the 1998 season when it starred Adam Goucher and was coached by Mark Wetmore. However, the idea of this book has far more promise than the finished product.

Running with the Buffalos is not organized as a typical history, but rather by training day with the date, time and place of training at the beginning of each chapter. Each of the short (2-3 pages) chapters is focused almost solely on the run of the day and its outcome. Occasionally, Lear delves into the pre-collegiate lives of a few of the runners. However, the narrative of that season proceeds in short staccato bursts. This organizational and writing style makes it a frustrating read lacking continuity or character development. Eventually, the runners become little more than their times and their injuries despite a traumatic event that occurs during the season.

Many recreational runners will buy this book to understand the training principles, workouts and team dynamics of serious competitive runners. If they are looking for more than a description, but also an explanation, I suspect they will be disappointed. Lear briefly discusses Wetmore's training principles, but little more. Towards the end of the work, we (and apparently Wetmore) are left on our own to understand why so many of his players became injured in that season. Recreational runners who want to understand why Wetmore assigns some of the workouts he does would be better off reading Brad Hudson's and similar works. ( )
  kahudson | Apr 10, 2011 |
This book's behind-the-scenes look at elite collegiate runners is interesting even to a non-runner. It's fascinating to read about what people will do to achieve athletic greatness. That said, many segments of this book are repetitive and uninteresting, merely describing the team's daily workouts and listing the runners' goal times and actual times. Maybe serious runners find this information interesting, but laypeople do not.

In addition, this book is one of the worst-written books that I have ever read. The writing ranges from sophomoric to downright wrong (typos, grammatical mistakes, etc.). The writing is so bad that it actually hinders understanding or enjoyment of the story. ( )
1 vote perzsa | Mar 8, 2011 |
As someone familiar with the dynamic of a cross country team, but unfamiliar with the University of Colorado's program, I found this book entertaining but somewhat limited. Following the difficulties -- including the tragic death of a teammate -- at one of the highest ranked running programs in the country was interesting because of the shared emotion that moved the team. It was limiting in that the book has little retrospection. The season is reported on in a journalistic fashion, which gets you the facts, but the book does little to advance one's thinking about large questions: is it really worthwhile to devote the enormous time and energy to this type of sporting effort (given the personal consequences and tradeoffs that occur)? Given the ups and downs of the season--some very dramatic--what lessons in life did the runners take away from it?

Overall, and interesting read, but not a fantastic piece of literature. (As an aside, I've heard good things about Halberstam's The Amateurs, and I may try to read that soon to see how it compares.) ( )
1 vote Joe24 | Aug 2, 2009 |
This book chronicles a season with the University of Colorado Men's Cross Country team and their pursuit of the NCAA National Championship. While the events of this book are now nearly ten years ago, the story is still very compelling. Author Chris Lear spent the entire season with the team, including coach Mark Wetmore and All-American Adam Goucher. It is a fascinating read that delves into the personal dynamics of a team made up of individual performances and how the team comes together during the worst kind of adversity during their season. One of the truly enlightening things from a runner's perspective is just how close to the physical edge runners at this level live and train - constantly walking a tightrope between doing everything they can to reach their maximum potential without incurring a season-ending injury. The frustration of poor runs and the exuberance of breakthrough performances exist in the same race. It is a seldom-seen look inside a very tight knit group that doesn't let outsiders in. I highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in competitive running or sports in general. ( )
1 vote csayban | Jun 16, 2009 |
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