In Apropos of Running, Charles Moore chronicles his quest to become a world-class marathon runner and his insights on being a black man in a white-dominated sport.
In 2015, the Detroit native living in New York City encountered the city’s marathon while enjoying a walk. Impressed by the runners’ energy and expressions of “victorious anguish,” he resolved to run the NYC Marathon the following year. He was 40 years old and hadn’t run farther than a 10K. Undeterred, the author began training for the 26.2-mile run.
For Moore, completing the marathon meant more than simply crossing the finish line. It proved to him that he was “man enough, tall enough, big enough, Black enough, [and] tough enough…” to compete. It also motivated him to run more than 20 marathons between 2016 and 2023 and complete all six of the World Marathon Majors.
Prior to Moore’s foray into long-distance running, he was unaware of the sport’s white elitism; admittedly, race never precluded his life’s achievements. However, during his second marathon in Philadelphia, he noticed he was one of the few black runners among a largely white group. After the race, Moore researched racial disparities, concluding that 1.6% of marathoners are black and that a tangle of personal, social, and cultural constructs perpetuates this inequity.
Moore shares his discoveries with a casual writing style. The candid information he divulges while journeying from novice to expert offer a valuable, accessible guide for would-be marathoners. For instance, Moore asserts that each time you run, you must “believe in your own invincibility” and cautions that “If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.”
However, frequent editing oversights — as in “Africa Americans” and “I’d turning in August” — and the overuse of “I had no clue” make the memoir feel rushed and repetitive.
Nonetheless, it delivers a cohesive and interesting rendering of Moore’s passion for running. The author’s authenticity is affirming, and readers will find much to consider here.
Also available as an ebook.