Rachel Toor was a bookish egghead who ran only to catch a bus. How such an unlikely athlete became a runner of ultramarathons is the story of Personal Record, an exhilarating meditation on the making—and the minutiae—of a runner’s life. The food, the clothes, the races, the injuries, the watch—and Rachel loves her watch—are all essential to the runner, as readers discover here, and discover why.

A chronicle of Rachel Toor’s relationship with the sport of running—from her early incarnation as an Oreo-eating couch potato to her emergence as a marathon runner par excellence—this book explores the sport of running, the community it brings into being, and the personal satisfaction of pursuing it to its limit. Alternating with Toor’s account of becoming a runner are the stories—meditations, examinations, celebrations—of how runners become a pack. An homage to running, a literary take on how an activity can turn into a passion, and how a passion can become a way of life, this book runs all the way from individual achievement—a personal best—to the world of friendship and belonging, the community that runners inevitably find.

“Until I read Rachel Toor’s marvelous book, Personal Record, I never understood the great passion of long-distance runners. She takes you on a grand tour of the running life, which goes from hobby to one of the purest forms that fanaticism in sport can take—ultramarathons. As any great running book deserves, Rachel Toor’s writing is swift, disciplined, sinewy, and indomitably strong. It is also hilarious. The story she tells is a marvel.”
—Pat Conroy

“In an unconventional, inspirational and loving account of running, really well done and funny as heck, Rachel Toor shows how this simple activity is so powerful it sweeps us off our feet into friendships that endure. I’m a fan.”
— Bill Rodgers

“I couldn’t put it down. It’s insightful-funny, and passionately real and personal.”
— Bernd Heinrich

“Rachel Toor is very brave, as a runner and as a writer. She sees things down at the cellular level and doesn’t hesitate to tell you Difficult Truths. And, if it weren’t for the fact that she confesses to breaking down and crying every so often, you might even think it was easy.”
— John L. Parker

“How do I love thee, running? Let Rachel Toor count the ways — over land, with her body, alongside horses, with her closest friends — the endless, wonderful ways.”
— Kathrine Switzer

“If you believe that there are 60 seconds in the unforgiving minute, then believe me as much as you do your stop watch when I say, you’ll enjoy Rachel’s story as much as you do a perfectly paced tempo run.”
— Coach Roy Benson

“In this gem of a book, Rachel Toor shares her thoughts and emotions as she tiptoes, trots and eventually races into the quirky world of running. Toor’s journey is a personal adventure, intimate and sometimes confessional, and runners of all abilities will enjoy traveling along with her.”
— Don Kardong