Running Writing ©
No. 17    December 1998
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Slinger Sanchez Running Gun
• Review of a Novel by Bruce Glikin •

     Just this August I was sitting high up in the magnificent timber stands of Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon. The occasion was the World Master’s Games in which my friend Gordon Nightingale was a competitor in the Steeplechase. I got to wondering about the many truly memorable battles of mind and body that had been witnessed on the Stevenson Track far below. The days when world and national records had been broken by athletes such as Henry Rono and Steve Prefontaine. Wondering what it would be like to see this great venue packed with fourteen thousand spectators cheering as the moves were made in a drama filled race. When you read Slinger Sanchez Running Gun the Hayward Field Stadium is breathed a life that is palpable in the dramatic opening sequence contained in Bruce Glikin’s running novel.

     The protagonist is Jesse Sanchez an unknown 800 metre runner from Houston, Texas and the happening is the US Olympic Trials for the 2000 Games in Sydney, Australia. It is Chapter 5 before Slinger’s race is over but by this time the reader is well and truly hooked by the characters and drama thus far revealed. Players such as Jesse’s life-time coach Kevin McClanahan - an ‘in-your-face’ Scotsman who truly cares for his athletes but doesn’t give a hoot if he rubs officialdom the wrong way. Kevin’s measured but expletive heavy talk goes with his blunt personality and he uses one four-letter word in a way that I won’t forget - ‘work’.

     We are also introduced to Jesse’s mother, Carmen Sanchez, who along with Jesse, suffered beatings from his biological father. The other characters in Slinger seem drawn from life which helps Glikin’s novel run with fluidity from beginning to end. You will find yourself racing the turning pages in an effort to keep pace with Jesse’s dramatic running life. It’s a life the reader will care about which should be no surprise as Slinger’s author is himself an accomplished runner who knows well many runners of world-class ability. Getting inside the head of a potential champion is the secret to good coaching. Understanding how a person thinks and what motivates them to be the best. Glikin takes the reader to this place with an authenticity that is almost surreal. You run with Jesse from the Rice University track and asphalt bike trails of Houston to the alleys of Barrio de Santa Cruz in Seville to the red tartan of track meccas such as Hengelo, Lucerne and Oslo.

     There is something special, awe-inspiring about a track & field world record. It means the fastest, highest or longest performance ever. The simplicity of these world records is evident to one and all. A watch. A tape. Black and white. I have personally witnessed the setting of ‘world records’ which are still standing. They were incredible at the time but subsequently clouded by revelations of systematic drug supply to athletes by certain countries. Drugs are an issue that is tackled in no uncertain terms in Slinger Sanchez Running Gun. Another reason to keep reading - will talent, work, mental strength and love prevail over deceit, laziness, cheating and hate?

     One of the big track meets in Canberra has always been the ‘Coca-Cola’ Distance Classic. This year it was held on November 27 and the 800 metres was one of the featured events. Jesse Sanchez’ race, the two-lap sprint. It wasn’t the men’s event but the women’s which to some in the know showcased what could be called the Running Gun spirit. A puff of white smoke and the crack of the starter’s pistol. A young woman taking the race out hard - 29 for the first 200. She had been sick and injured most of the winter - most recently with achilles tendinitis, the same injury that plagued Jesse Sanchez.

     Through the first lap in 63 and still leading the older more experienced women in the race. Overtaken at the 450 she was expected by most to fade but kicked again down the back straight in a shoulder to shoulder duel. Then in the sprint home she was still a chance but finished second in 2:10, nine seconds quicker than her best for the season. Talent and tenacity that is so evocatively portrayed in Bruce Glikin’s first novel - Slinger Sanchez Running Gun. If you’re a runner, read ‘Slinger’ - it’s totally engrossing. If you don’t run, read ‘Slinger’ - it’s a bloody good story!

- Ewen Thompson - November 98

Purchase Slinger Sanchez Running Gun Online

Publisher's Website - Amber Fields Publishing

Select for Large Image

Cover of Bruce Glikin's novel 'Slinger Sanchez Running Gun' [16k]


noah ngeny from kenya leads
Kenyan Noah Ngeny won the 1500 metres at the 1998 Canberra Optus Grand Prix [40k]


benita willis won the women's 1500m
Shortly after the start of the Women's 1500 metres at the 1998 Canberra Coca-Cola Distance Classic. The race was won by Benita Willis (far left) [30k]


julius kiptoo
Julius Kiptoo sprints to the line after the last barrier in the '98 Canberra Optus Grand Prix Steeplechase [28k]


women's 800m
Owen Heness does the lane draw for the women's 800 metre event at the Coca-Cola Distance Classic [25k]


800m victory to heath fitzpatrick
Heath Fitzpatrick wins the 800 metres at the Coca-Cola Distance Classic in 1:48.87. David Byrne placed second followed by Simon Rintoul. [29k]


bruce glikin

Bruce Glikin was born in Englewood, New Jersey in 1949 but moved to Houston, Texas at the age of four. He graduated from high school in 1967, and enrolled in the University of Arizona where he received a Bachelor's of Arts Degree in 1971 with a major in Journalism. He has been running for over 30 years, his strong suit the marathon. Seven of his twelve marathons were in the 2:40 range, his personal best time of 2:39:11. He was also a National Age Group Silver Medalist in the two-mile and the steeplechase. He is a member of the Houston Harriers, and currently classifies himself as a recreational jogger.


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