"The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner"



“The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner” is a short story by the English writer Alan Sillitoe(1928-2010). The story was set in Irvine Beach, Scotland and it was published in 1959 as part of a short story collection by the same name. The work focuses on Colin, a poor teenager from a dismal home who has bleak prospects in life and few interests beyond petty crime. The boy turns to long-distance running as a method of both an emotional and a physical escape from his situation. The story was adapted for a film also with the same title. Sillitoe wrote the screenplay and Tony Richardson(1928-1991), the English theatre and producer, directed.

Richardson also directed [B]Look Back in Anger/B. The part of Colin was played by Tom Courtenay(1937-) who is still going strong after half a century. Courtenay received an honorary doctorate in 1999, the year I retired after three decades as a classroom teacher.-Ron Price with thanks to the online encyclopaedia Wikipedia, 3 October 2011.

I began my long distance running in ’59,
about the second week of October in a
small artist’s flat in Burlington Ontario in
the midst of the blazing colour of autumn
before the cold of winter set in and then,
when that film came out in the autumn
of ’62 I was just starting my long distance
running in an evening bigger way for the
little did I know and I, too, was alone in
many ways back then just like the guy in
the book and the film, but it was a very
different kind of aloneness, v/different.
And I am still running forty years later,
but life is quieter now and I am in the
evening of my days with, I hope & trust,
most of the slings-arrows of outrageous
fortune behind me. But one never knows
for sure in long-distance running even
when one has got one’s second wind.1

1 See David Hofman, George Townshend, George Ronald, Oxford, 1983, p.107. Difficulties may, indeed, increase but they will be less difficult to deal with. After one catches one’s second wind one can go the distance.

Ron Price
3/10/'11 to 22/1/'15.


Alan Sillitoe - Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1985, Hunter Publishing).epub (150.9 KB)