Peter Sagal and I have something in common. From what he writes in “The Incomplete Book of Running,” we both started running seriously at 40. I made a goal to run a marathon by that age. I ran two by then and have been running them for 17 years. He’s a successful NPR radio host for “Wait, Wait …. Don’t Tell Me!” and a popular columnist for “Runner’s World,” which I read. I’m married to an AJT editor. That’s where the comparisons stop.
On a scale of one to 10, I’m a two. He’s an eight. I may have run more marathons; he reported running 14. But he’s a top-tier marathoner for his age in major races.
One of the most powerful parts of this autobiography was his recounting of how he escaped the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, crossing the finish line moments before the explosion. He was a volunteer for a blind runner, tethered to his charge. If the runner hadn’t stopped to take a break, Sagal said he would’ve died.
He holds nothing back. Not about his divorce and how horrible it was. And not about the 2012 incident in which he was labeled a “bandit” for jumping in and out of the Chicago Marathon without registering. He said he innocently wanted to prepare for his next marathon, but, as a minor celebrity, he was widely criticized.
Sagal also shares how it’s difficult to find time to run in a busy schedule, but how rewarding the stress relief. He’s very realistic about the aches and pains, the wavering diligence. It makes “The Incomplete Book of Running,” a takeoff on “The Complete Book of Running” by James Fixx, very relatable to any runner.
Peter Sagal closes the Book Festival 7:30 p.m. Nov. 18.