The Long Run

by francine Hardaway on August 20, 2011

Runners before the race at Verrazano-Narrows B...

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I first heard about “The Long Run” one night on The Daily Show. I rarely watch Jon Stewart long enough to see his guest, but when Matt Long,  a limping bald guy, came out on the set, I wondered only briefly what he was doing there before I was riveted. Yes, like many of Stewart’s guests, Long was on a book tour. But in the ten minutes he spent with Jon, you could see Stewart’s respect for him. Long only had time to recount the basic outlines of a terrible story:  how he, a firefighter, got hit by a bus while riding his bike on the way to work, and how during the long recovery he despaired of ever being a whole human being again. That is the subject of his book, and it isn’t just any book.


Because it sounded like an inspiring story, I downloaded “The Long Run” from Audible. Inspiring doesn’t begin to describe it. t finished listening to the book in two days; I haven’t read a more gripping book in years, even though I knew the story in advance. Matt Long wasn’t only a fireman who owned three bars in Manhattan and  had helped save a life on 9/11, he was a marathoner and a tri-athlete. After the bus hit him, he was also an anonymous man tangled in the wreckage of a bicycle under a bus, impaled on the bicycle seat. Rescuers had to saw him apart from the bike, lifting the bus first.


As someone who never quite got the hang of swimming, but ran eight marathons and saw a friend finish the Lake Taupo Ironman in New Zealand, I identified a lot with how Matt’s life went before the accident — the camaraderie of training buddies, the long runs, the permission you give yourself to eat as much as you’d like, the beers and the endorphin highs.


What I couldn’t imagine was his life after Chapter 2, when he qualified for the Boston Marathon in 2005. In the first chapter, Long was talking about his big Irish family, and in the second about his training regime and the New York City Marathon he ran to qualify for Boston. He finished New York in 3:13. My best time? 3:27.


But I gently aged out of marathon running after more than twenty years. In Matt’s case, by Chapter 3 of “The Long Run”, he was violently ejected from running and virtually everything else in his past by his own  blood and guts (literally), more than sixty blood transfusions, forty-odd surgeries, and a colostomy bag. When he was brought to the hospital on the day of his accident, he was given a 5% chance to survive. He spent about five months in the hospital and in rehab.


The doctors told him that if he hadn’t been so physically fit at the time of the accident, there was no chance he would have lived. Between the amount of blood he lost, the extent of his injuries, and the time he was in a coma, almost anyone else’s heart would have given out. But Matt Long was, ironically, trained for his accident.


The story of his way back is amazing. It involves the love of his family, the commitment of his friends, and the culture of the New York City Fire Department. It also demonstrates that there is meaningful life after near death and partial dismemberment. and it does it with brutal honesty. ‘The Long Run” is no walk in the park — not to live through, and not even to read.








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Voyance August 29, 2011 at 10:20 am

The blog was absolutely
fantastic! Lots of great information and inspiration, both of which we all


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