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(Audio)book review: The Long Run by Matt Long March 14, 2011

Posted by shwaldman in Fitness, Society.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

People run for many reasons. It is a very personal sport or hobby for those who participate. I consider myself a runner, even though I often go a few weeks (or rarely) months without running. So, I have taken to listening to various books about running lately. But I have to say this book wasn’t as much about running as it was about life. It was about what a person can do when faced with adversity. In this case, the word “adversity” does not even begin to describe what Matt Long went through. On the morning of December 22, 2005, this New York City firefighter was cycling to work (due to the illegal transit strike) when he was struck by and sucked under a charter bus making an illegal turn (chartered by a large well-known financial institution).

Long goes into excruciating detail about the injuries he suffered, the heroic efforts that doctors performed and his painful recovery. Long received amazing support from his fellow firefighters, New Yorkers and of course his whole family and friends. It was a moving story of pain and obstacles overcome. It is one of those stories that I say I hope I would be able to be that strong if I was ever faced with such a horrific accident. Long had a goal of completing an Ironman triathlon (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run) which is a difficult challenge for even the healthiest of people. That goal was the driving force of his recovery.

With all that is going on in this world today, I was moved even more by this story for a very different reason. Long was a fit runner (having completed the New York City Marathon) two months before the accident in an impressive (and Boston qualifying) 3 hours 13 minutes. He was also preparing to complete his first Ironman triathlon. Even with this, when Long arrived at the hospital, the doctors initially gave him a 5% chance of surviving. While his training may have caused the accident, his fitness gave his body the extra chance to survive, it was the drive that he held to compete athletically that gave him the power to more than just survive.

But (and I am sure this could be misintrepted, so keep reading…) I think the thing that gave Long the greatest advantage was his position as a public service employee. We have recently had incredible public debate about healthcare reform in this country. And many states are debating the “merits” of the cost vs benefits of tax payer funded public employee benefits. I have a couple of points here, so please bear with me. When the rescue team arrived at the scene, there was a need to save a person trapped under a bus. When that person became a firefighter, one of their own, everything changed. I am not a doctor and I was certainly not there, but it seemed in listening to this story, that the doctors went beyond what they normally would have done for an average person. But that isn’t even the point. In listening to this story, I do not recall more than once that Long described money as an object. He went through 40 surgeries and spend months of time in the hospital and rehabilitation. Long is a business owner and a fireman. He is a working class man. Financial strains of medical problems much less than this one have destroyed people of much more wealth. Of course, I do not know if there was any sort of financial settlement was made by the city, bus company or any other party. My main point is this… Every person in America should have the opportunities that Matt Long had. It is clear though, the Long’s determination is unmatched.

This book is inspiring – plain and simple. Matt’s goal was about running and competing, but the point is more that set one and made a decision to achieve it. It was a magnificent story listening to him work to that end. I highly recommend.



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