Ken Norton’s first novel, When Legends Run Free, is a must-read for anyone who has participated in, coached, or has been associated in some way, with the sport of cross-country. The author, who was a Division II All-American at Southwest Missouri and was coached by the legendary Chuck Hunsaker, captures the true essence of the sport and the dedicated athletes who participate in it.

His descriptions of the races, the warm-ups, grueling interval workouts, and long Sunday runs on crisp fall mornings, will truly bring back many wonderful memories of similar experiences that we have all had.

     The story follows a team at Twain State, a fictitious university, in its quest of a third national title in six years. The commitment of the coach, his family, the team, and a group of supporters is similar to reading a historical novel; unfortunately, the school’s president and the athletic director do not share this passion. The attitude and personalities of these two figures are, regrettably, accurate descriptions of many of their non-fictitious counterparts in today’s institutions of higher learning.

     In the final three chapters, the Hall of Fame Induction of the coach and one of his star athletes takes place 20 years after both men left the program. The meaning of the impact and importance of being a part of the program is captured in a way that will also rekindle many memories for the readers and may even bring tears to their eyes.

     This is a book for all those who love the wonderful fall sport, but it will especially touch a nerve for former athletes and coaches at Ohio University, Bowling  Green, Western Michigan, Marshall University, The University of Akron, and many others who have seen cross-country and/or track and field discontinued at their schools. When the final page of When Legends Run Free is completed, the reader will understand the emotions that a team experiences on a journey through not only a tumultuous season, but for the remainder of the runners’ lives.

Yours in track,

Rod O’Donnell

Read more of Coach O’Donnell’s Keeping Track articles on www.runohio.com

2022 Thoughts By Rod O’Donnell  https://www.runohio.com/index.php/news-features/features/341-keeping-track-2022-thoughts-by-rod-o-donnell

Life Lessons from Cross-Country - http://runohio.com/index.php/news-features/features/10-life-lessons-from-cross-country-updated-2020  

Marshall University add Men’s Track & Field - https://www.runohio.com/index.php/news-features/news/336-keeping-track-marshall-university-add-men-s-track-field-by-rod-o-donnell

Critical Time for Cross Country and Track & Field - http://www.runohio.com/index.php/news-features/features/96-track            

Keeping Track - https://www.runohio.com/index.php/news-features/features/289-keeping-track-by-rod-o-donnell

Football and Track & Field - http://www.runohio.com/index.php/news-features/features/78-keeping-track-football-and-track-field           

Two Book Reviews - http://www.runohio.com/index.php/news-features/features/263-keeping-track-two-book-reviews-by-rod-o-donnell

Keeping Track – Remembering – http://runohio.com/index.php/news-features/news/211-keeping-track-remembering-by-rod-o-donnell

Facts - http://www.runohio.com/index.php/news-features/features/100-keeping-track-fact s       

Track - http://runohio.com/index.php/news-features/features/67-keeping-trac          

2021 Track & Field - http://runohio.com/index.php/news-features/features/200-keeping-track-2021-track-field     

Keeping Track - http://runohio.com/index.php/news-features/features/173-keeping-track-2    

2020 OHSAA State Cross Country Championships - http://runohio.com/index.php/news-features/news/134-keeping-track-by-rod-o-donnell-2020-ohsaa-state-cross-country-championships  

COVID 19 and Sports - http://runohio.com/index.php/news-features/news/120-keeping-track-covid-19-and-sports-by-rod-o-donnell     

Marc Bloom’s Amazing Racers - http://runohio.com/index.php/news-features/features/43-keeping-track-marc-bloom-s-amazing-racers-by-rod-o-donnel      

Ohio Men College Runners – https://www.runohio.com/index.php/news-features/news/235-keeping-track-ohio-men-college-runners-by-rod-o-donnell 

College of William & Mary – http://runohio.com/index.php/news-features/news/121-keeping-track-college-of-william-mary-by-rod-o-donnell      

Have a Healthy, Happy and Safe 2023!

I hope to see you at a race soon.

Matt McGowan