"Running turned out to be more than therapy. It’s been a game changer."

When Drake received his diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease (PD), he was not surprised. His father and two siblings each had PD, and he knew their experiences. With a tremor being just one of his symptoms, he saw a neurologist for a diagnosis. The author’s suspicions were proven correct. Not realizing the advancements that science had made in treating PD, he had taken a number of years to act on his suspicions. His neurologist shared what he needed to hear: exercise was actually an effective treatment. A lifelong athlete who has trained for triathlons, Drake was happy to have confirmation that vigorous exercise is one of the positive, proven therapies for PD.

When Drake’s father was alive, they enjoyed running together, and the author continues to run with his family. He has experience in both the 5k and 10k runs, and at the age of fifty-eight, with more time to himself in retirement, he feels a new sense of purpose and begins to run more and further. Drake ran his first marathon and created a goal of becoming a Boston Qualifier (BQ). He is determined to go even further and become a Six Star Winner within the World Marathon Majors (WMM). With a great deal of motivation, he learns the difficulties that running full marathons in six different cities around the world will entail. In his work life, he had been an engineer, understanding detailed planning and strategy. This helps him to create a plan that will get him through each qualifying race and onto the next marathon.

The author’s writing immerses the reader in the camaraderie of the world of marathons. Runners encourage and support each other, forming bonds of friendship. His surprise and wonder are felt as he finds motivation in each city, along each route, seeing and hearing fans as they hold up signs supporting not only his racing efforts but also his association with Team Fox for Parkinson’s fundraising. Drake writes with purpose and passion. His description of the way exercise positively impacts those with PD is an inspiration.

Drake also shares his nutrition plan to hydrate, including proteins and carbohydrates, specific to the needs of Parkinson’s, and how they help him to avoid some of the excruciatingly painful muscle cramps that are a part of PD. He writes with confidence in his knowledge of Parkinson’s medications and the continued use of them during the marathons. An engaging storyteller, the author moves the reader through each step of the journey to BQ and then around the world and through each race. Not daunted by the disappointment and confusion that COVID caused, his determination to complete the full six races comes through each line. Readers can be assured they will cheer Drake on his way to completing each race until he has all six ribbons, feeling every footfall, gimpy stomach, muscle cramp, and knowing as well as he does when he is low on protein.

Photographs of the author’s smiling face moving through the WMM and at the end with all six medals adorn but do not overtake the book. Readers will enjoy this book for the pragmatic and inspirational take on a disease that Drake understands has, in many ways, set him free to fully pursue his life of running. But they will also appreciate it for the humor the author finds in situations that many would see as unbearable, as well as the insights into kindness, hope, and love shared by folks Drake has met along the way. One does not need to be a runner nor have PD to revel in the wisdom and understanding of the human condition the author shares.

A 2023 Eric Hoffer Book Award Health Category Honorable Mention

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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