Algonquin Books Better Faster Farther: How Running Changed Everything We Know About Women
Algonquin Books Better Faster Farther: How Running Changed Everything We Know About Women

Better Faster Farther: How Running Changed Everything We Know About Women

By Maggie Mertens


Publication Date: June 18, 2024

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Award-winning journalist Maggie Mertens uncovers the story of how women broke into competitive running and how they are getting faster and fiercer every day—and changing our understanding of what is possible as they go.

More than a century ago, a woman ran in the very first modern Olympic marathon. She just did it without permission.

Despite women proving their abilities on the track time and again, men in the medical establishment, media, and athletic associations have fought to keep women (or at least white women) fragile—and sometimes literally tried to push them out of the race (see Kathrine Switzer, Boston Marathon, 1967). Yet before there were running shoes for women, they ran barefoot or in nursing shoes. They ran without sports bras, which weren’t invented until 1977, or disguised as men. They faced down doctors who put them on bed rest and newspaper reports that said women collapsed if they ran a mere eight hundred meters, just two laps around the track. Still today, women face relentless attention to their bodies: Is she too strong, too masculine? Is she even really a woman?

Mertens transports us from that first boundary-breaking marathon in Greece, 1896, to the earliest “official” women’s races of the twentieth century to today’s most intense ultramarathons like the infamous Spine Race, whose current record holder is a woman. By a lot.

For readers of Good and Mad, Born to Run, and Fly Girls, Better Faster Farther takes us inside the lives and the victories of the women who have redefined society’s image of strength and power.

About the Author

Maggie Mertens is a writer, journalist, and editor located in Seattle. Her essays and reporting have appeared in The Atlantic, NPR, Sports Illustrated, ESPNw, Deadspin, VICE, The Cut, Glamour, Pacific Standard, Refinery29, and Creative Nonfiction, among others. Her work has also appeared in The Year’s Best Sports Writing 2021 (Triumph Books), Women and Sports in the United States (The University of Chicago Press), and has been nominated for the 2021 Dan Jenkins Medal for Excellence in Sportswriting. She earned a B.A. in English Literature and Italian Studies from Smith College, and an M.F.A. in Creative-Nonfiction Writing from The New School.

Format: Hardcover

Length: 304 pages

Publisher: Algonquin Books

Publication Date: June 18, 2024

ISBN: 9781643753355

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