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CUP book

When Running Made History

20 November 2023

By Roger Robinson


February 2019
328pp, softback
230 x 150mm, 30 b&w illustrations throughout
ISBN: 978-1-98-850308-0

A front-row seat to running’s most inspiring and historic moments, with New Zealand in a major role.’
Nick Willis MNZM, two-time Olympic medallist, New Zealand record-holder 1500 m

Roger’s account of the global rise of women’s running is the best I’ve ever seen. I’m honoured that my win in the New York Marathon and Lorraine Moller’s in the Avon Marathon are central to his story.’
Allison Roe MBE, winner and record-breaker, Boston and New York City Marathons

Front cover of When Running Made History

Roger Robinson is uniquely placed to write this riveting memoir. Throughout the running revolution he’s been a world-class runner, commentator, broadcaster and writer. It is an insider’s view of running – intimate, persuasive and informative.’
Lloyd Jones, Hon DLitt, award-winning New Zealand novelist, Man Booker Prize finalist

‘When Running Made History has been rightfully acclaimed. It is among the most readable and rewarding works of sports history ever published.’
Geoff Watson, New Zealand Review of Books, Pukapuka Aotearoa

Roger Robinson has been witness to many great moments in the history of running, and to those when running made history in ways beyond sport.

As an excited child at the post-war London Olympics, an ardent spectator following the drama of Peter Snell and Murray Halberg at Rome, stadium announcer at the transformative Christchurch Commonwealth Games, TV commentator when Ben Johnson got busted, and more recently as a journalist reporting live on the Boston Marathon bombings, Robinson was there.

In a unique cross-over of literature, history and autobiography, Robinson tells of running in Berlin at the moment of German reunification and in New York’s Central Park the day the Twin Towers fell; he is on the TV microphone for Kenya’s first major running victory; and has to find words to help a stadium crowd mourn for the lives lost in the Christchurch earthquake.

When Running Made History is a superb depiction of the modern running movement. It provides a compelling, close-up account of the American running boom, the defiant emergence of women’s running, the glorious dawn of Africa’s ascendance, the sport’s redefinition of ageing, and its important role in environmental conservation. Robinson lets us run alongside as history is made by Emil Zátopek, Abebe Bikila, Ron Clarke, Dick Tayler, Allison Roe, Paula Radcliffe, Nick Willis, Meb Keflezighi and 85-year-old superstar Ed Whitlock.

Robinson brings to life the days when running shaped the world, and shows why so many millions love to run and why running is worth loving.

Roger Robinson, now Emeritus Professor, is remembered as an outstanding teacher of English at Canterbury and Victoria universities, and by a wider public as stadium announcer at the Christchurch and Auckland Commonwealth Games, and an acclaimed commentator for TVNZ. His books include Katherine Mansfield: In From the Margin, the Oxford Companion to New Zealand Literature and Heroes and Sparrows: A Celebration of Running.

Praise for the US edition of When Running Made History (Syracuse University Press, 2018)

A literary lion roars across the decades, with an academic’s clarity and a world-class athlete’s passion. Throw in wit and wonder, and it’s the best running book we’ve read this century.’
New England Runner magazine, USA

This book is like a fine malt scotch, it deserves to be relished sip by sip. But there’s nothing elitist about it, as it fies with energy like a great beer. Runners and non-runners will love its passion, reverence, and humour.’
Margaret Buttner, The Running Room, Canada

I may not have to read your book because my husband keeps reading so many bits to me.
Disgruntled runner, Ontario, Canada

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