Running with the Buffaloes: A Season Inside with Mark Wetmore, Adam Goucher, and The University of Colorado Men’s Cross Country Team

by Chris Lear

Running with the Buffaloes by Chris Lear

If you read this website regularly (and there is no guarantee that you do… I’ve seen my web page analytics), you know that I like to read running books as I consider myself a runner on sabbatical just waiting for that magical day when I am no longer birthing or breastfeeding humans and can devote time back to running. Good news, folks and fans, the end is in sight as I am pregnant with my fourth (and final!) tiny human, coming this fall. I hope to be running again sometime in the summer of 2018. These running books are intended to give me tips and motivation until that day actually comes when I can run instead of read about running. Sadly, this book did not do it for me.

This is a book about a nationally ranked cross country team in the late 1990s. I don’t follow college cross country though google just informed me that my own alma mater is ranked 4th! That is interesting news as it wasn’t ranked at all at the time this book was written. The Buffaloes (UC Boulder) are currently ranked 2nd, and they just go by Colorado in those polls… a little sports information for you. At the time Colorado was coached by Mark Wetmore (oh wow, google just informs me that he is STILL the coach, and his assistants are a bunch of people that were on the team when this book was written 20 years ago… how do you like that?). He had a fairly controversial coaching method which was just increase those miles, which flew in the face of the conventional coaching methods of the day which used a lot of interval training to increase dynamic speed. Fun running fact, while most running coaches now use a combination method, there is still a reliance on running intervals. And that is a little knowledge from yours truly, free of charge. Because Colorado could not offer the financial help to the big collegiate runners at the time (that may have changed, but I am NOT going to google anymore tonight, I promise) Wetmore cleverly used reserve runners who were not the stars of the track events to mould into distance runners. He had recruited locally almost exclusively, but during the 1998 season focused on in the book, there were a few hot shot runners from New Jersey vying for the squad. Chris Lear tagged along writing about the season because he had nothing better to do at the time. I am not sure if that is true, but he made it sound that way. He didn’t have any idea where the Buffaloes would end up in their quest to win the national title.

Lear’s book starts at the beginning of the season. He runs with the runners. He mingles with the coaches and staff. He has almost a friend relationship to the people he is writing about. As a reader, I have to wonder how objective this guy is because he appeared very close to his subjects. It doesn’t necessarily lead me to believe that he was dishonest in his narrative, but it makes me skeptical. What did he choose to edit out? Did he leave out portions that would shine an unfavorable light on either the coaches or the runners? How faithful is Lear to the truth? Lear starts in training camp and introduces the team a few times… I’m just going to interject here that a yearbook type picture page at the beginning of the book would have been much more helpful than the blurry snapshots that are featured at random spots throughout the book. So, future editions, if such things are in the works, please just do it. As we get to know the guys (not the girls, they are RARELY mentioned but I suppose the book is about the men’s cross country team…) some different personalities emerge as does the idea that UC is the scrappy underdog that doesn’t have the funding but knows how to utilize the talent. A huge focus is on Adam Goucher, who later became a professional (but not terribly successful) runner. This name might be recognizable to those who follow running. He was the undisputed star of the team and the benchmark that the other men measured themselves against. Injury stalks the season, and becomes a season ender for some, and then real tragedy strikes. One of the most well liked members of the team dies in a biking accident. Then the narrative doesn’t exactly shift, but there is a focus on loss, and how a team can stay cohesive and deal with that kind of trauma.

I won’t spoil the ending, check google and let the internet do that for you! I will say, that while the information was interesting, the narrative itself was cobbled together. It felt like the journal of a cross country runner rather than a cohesive story about the quest for a title. The subject matter was there. The writing wasn’t. In addition, Lear is a runner and understands the jargon and terminology. He makes no attempt to make this book accessible to anyone who doesn’t run. That is a disservice to a really interesting piece of history. Also, Lear doesn’t do overmuch in the setting of a scene. My husband is from the Boulder area, so I know the places that Lear spoke about and didn’t have to stretch my imagination. Someone who isn’t familiar with the geography might not come away with the same understanding of events.

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The Blooding: The Dramatic True Story of the First Murder Case Solved by Genetic “Fingerprinting”

by Joseph Wambaugh

The Blooding by Joseph Wambaugh

If you know me, or read this website, you know I like true crime. Maybe that is wrong. No one should like crime. Let us just say that I am always interested to read about true crime, or watch a documentary, listen to a podcast, etc. Read More »

The Zodiac Legacy: The Dragon’s Return

by Stan Lee and Stuart Moore

The Zodiac Legacy: The Dragon Returns by Stan Lee and Stuart Moore

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Assisted: An Autobiography

by John Stockton with Kerry L. Pickett

Assisted an autobiography by John Stockton

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by Marcus Sedgwick

Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick

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by Cary Elwes and Joe Layden

As You Wish by Cary Elwes

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by Neil Gaiman

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

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The Rosie Project

by Graeme Simsion

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

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David Spade is Almost Interesting

by David Spade

David Spade is Almost Interesting by David Spade

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by Robert K Wittman and David Kinney

The Devil's Diary by Robert K Wittman and David Kinney

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by Hillary Jordan

Mudbound by Hillary Jordan

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Running with the Buffaloes: A Season Inside with Mark Wetmore, Adam Goucher, and The University of Colorado Men’s Cross Country Team

by Chris Lear

Running with the Buffaloes by Chris Lear

If you read this website regularly (and there is no guarantee that you do… I’ve seen my web page analytics), you know that I like to read running books as I consider myself a runner on sabbatical just waiting for that magical day when I am no longer birthing or breastfeeding humans and can devote time back to running. Read More »

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by Nora McInerny Purmort

It's Ok to Laugh by Nora McInerny Purmont

Sigh… where to begin? Reviewing a book like this is a bit of a challenge. Purmort’s biggest claim to fame, and her reason for writing a memoir in the first place, is that her husband died of cancer. So, if you criticize a book like this, you come across as a jerk… So with that understanding, I am going into this immediately letting you know that I DISLIKED this book. Read More »

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by Tana French

The Trespasser by Tana French

French and I have had a pretty serious thing going on since I read one of her books while I was in the hospital delivering my first child in 2010. Then I read another in 2012 while I was in the hospital with my second child. And again in 2014 with my third child. Well, her new book came out and I was nowhere near having a kid, so I had to break our streak and read The Trespasser. I was initially pretty thrilled because I knew this book would follow Antionette Conway who I enjoyed in the last book and wanted to delve more into what a partnership between her and Stephen Moran would look like. Read More »

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by Amy Chua

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua

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Unfamiliar Fishes

by Sarah Vowell

Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell

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by Jasper Fforde

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by Jasper Fforde

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Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d

by Alan Bradley

Thrice the brinded cat hath mew'd by Alan Bradley

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by Hampton Sides

Americana: Dispatches from the New Frontier by Hampton Sides

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Patricia, the Beautiful

by Katheryn Kimbrough

Patricia the Beautiful by Katheryn Kimbrough

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by Katheryn Kimbrough

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Jane, the Courageous

by Katheryn Kimbrough

Jane the Courageous by Katheryn Kimbrough

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by Katheryn Kimbrough

Augusta, the First by Katheryn Kimbrough

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A Long Way Home: A Boy’s Incredible Journey from India to Australia and Back Again

by Saroo Brierly

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by Alwyn Hamilton

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by Rosalie Ham

The Dressmaker by Rosalie Ham

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by John Morelock

Run Gently Out There: Trials, Trails, and Tribulations of Running Ultramarathons by John Morelock

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by Sarah Vowell

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by Sue Grafton

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by Paula Hawkins

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