Reviews for The Longest Race

by Kara Goucher with Mary Pilon

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A track-and-field star pulls the lid off the big money behind corporate sponsorship of sports. In 2015, Goucher made news when, with her husband, a fellow Olympian, she accused Alberto Salazar, their coach at the Nike Oregon Project, of violating anti-doping rules. The abuse she chronicles in this book goes further than that. Entering distance running only eight years after the women’s marathon was made an Olympic event, Goucher was immediately confronted by issues of body image, and she imposed self-destructive rules against such things as eating more than 700 calories before dinner. Following the end of her NCAA collegiate eligibility, she won Nike’s sponsorship as a professional runner, a contract that paid little (to women, at least) and involved a range of demerits as well as incentives. The money would come to be an issue. So would the training regime imposed by Salazar, who, Goucher alleges, abused her sexually and psychologically but who was held in such reverence—he founded the Nike program in the same year that he was inducted into the National Track & Field Hall of Fame—that it was difficult to raise objections and be believed. A helpful team doctor, meanwhile, discovered a demographically improbable streak of hyperthyroidism through the team roster, for which he prescribed an energy-boosting drug that was allowed under anti-doping rules. Later, Goucher used a battery of prescribed “supplements” that probably violated the spirit but not the letter of the regulations. Racism against African runners, sexism (“you were in a man’s world, subject to contracts written by men, for men”), high-tech cheats, and corporate “financial dominance”—all enter into Goucher’s list of charges. Though Nike has denied the author’s allegations, it’s telling that Salazar’s name has been stricken from a building on the company’s campus. Goucher makes a strong case against a powerful sports machine. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.