The American Marathon is the first in-depth study of the marathon as a cultural performance that has as much power to unite communities across lines of race, ethnicity, class, and gender as it does to empower individuals. This book encompasses more than a century, from the fledgling days of the footrace in the 1890s to the popular contemporary marathons that have become corporate-sponsored institutions. Besides examining the ethnic influence on marathoning, Cooper also explores the impact of the Cold War on this sport, when fitness and endurance became matters of national pride. She shows how the Road Runners Club of America first brought women and large numbers of participant runners into long-distance footraces and, finally, how corporate sponsorship and direct payments to athletes profoundly changed the nature of this once-amateur sport.
Pamela Cooper writes for, and serves as historical advisor to, Runners World magazine. She has published articles on the marathon footrace in the Journal of Sport History and the International Journal of the History of Sport.