Running Tide

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Growing up with three brothers, Joan Benoit--not surprisingly--led the life of a tomboy. Her enthusiasm for sports developed at an early age during family ski trips. A skiing accident at the age of fifteen ended her secret dream of becoming a world-class skier: Her broken leg healed, but her confidence as a skier was permanently shaken. Ironically, this injury helped propel her running career.

Under Benoit’s demure demeanor is a very driven woman, unwilling to abandon her goals, often to the detriment of her health, and she offers painfully learned and valuable training advice to young woman athletes. In turn, she pays a tribute to the long-distance women runners of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s--the pioneers who, in spite of sexual discrimination, persisted in order to make competitive running fair and equal.

Indeed, while Benoit is rightfully proud of her accomplishments, she takes very little credit for them, instead praising the many people who have helped her directly and indirectly over the years. Yet Benoit has a tremendous will of her own, a very sound philosophy that steers and motivates her. Her writing style is easy and upbeat. There is no sense of distance between author and reader. She remembers her childhood with such fondness and paints such an idyllic picture of Maine that the reader wants to pack up and move there.

Benoit embodies refreshing qualities not often found in professional athletes. She does not appear jaded from either her victories or defeats and has maintained a playful sense of humor through it all. A modest person who respects and takes pleasure in other runner’s accomplishments, Benoit knows and lives the dedication required to compete as a runner. She runs and competes simply because it is what she enjoys most.