Review of Running Away: A Memoir by Robert Andrew Powell

It is amazing the impact of a father’s love, or lack thereof, can bear on a person’s life. I just completed reading a poignant chronicle about one year of an unsettled man’s life in middle class America. Robert Powell attempts to find himself living in the shadow of his father’s giant footsteps. In sharing his painful journey, we can appreciate his brutal honesty regarding his own faults and failures, and by the end of the year, see how far he has come in his emotional journey.

Powell’s memoir details the year 2007-2008, when he sold all his possessions and took off from Miami to the city of Boulder, Colorado to begin training to run in a marathon. All his life, he had been dogged by his own underachievement in the light of his father’s great success, both as a runner and as a businessman. Looming large in his mind always is his father’s successful attempt to qualify for the Boston Marathon in one try and the big newspaper story that followed.

Powell did a great job pulling at emotional heartstrings, drawing me into the story as I read about his multitude of mis-steps, and how this seemed to be his last chance at finding self-esteem. For anyone who may have struggled in a shaky relationship with their father, chances are good that you would be able to relate to him in some way.Kudos to him for sticking with his running program when he plain out admits that he got no pleasure from running. He meets new friends in Boulder, and acquires a trainer, whom he really thought cared about him.

The climax of the story occurs when Robert and his running partner, Carl, travel to Florida for running their own marathon. I will not give away what happens there but to me, was the highlight of the book and made the reading worthwhile. Also woven into the story is how the author met the famous Olympic marathon gold medalist Frank Shorter, and interviewed him while in Boulder.

I would not mind reading a follow up book just to find out what happened to him since.There is some foul language and talk about marital infidelity, which the author regretted in the long run.


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Filed under family relationships, memoir, running

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