The inspiring, untold story about a group of remarkable athletes and their groundbreaking coach who live and train in startling ways—and are redefining running excellence in the United States.
What would one call taking teens with no evident running talent and challenging them with boundless hill training combined with mantras from rock ‘n’ roll, techniques from Kenya, philosophy from Australia, and turning them into champions? Is it revolutionary? Or a risky rebellion against running—and teenage—norms?
Coach Bill Aris has heard both, but one thing is indisputable. Everything Aris does with his runners—male and female alike—is new and extraordinary, and he has created a new American running dynasty. The cross-country runners of Fayetteville-Manlius, or F-M, in upstate New York have dominated high school running for 15 years, sweeping boys’ and girls’ titles at the Nike Cross Nationals championships (NXN) in 2014 in an unprecedented achievement.
The girls’ team, empowered by Aris’ unique, unwavering brand of gender equity, has won 11 of the last 13 NXN titles, some by margins of over 100 points. The boys’ team has the best cumulative national record of NXN podium performances. F-M domination has shocked the sport for its defiance of accepted running principles and limitations. One year at NXN, the F-M girls defeated the all-star field of top teams by an average of 59 seconds per girl in the 5k race.
Another year, the girls ran faster than their teenage Kenyan counterparts, who competed in the Portland, Oregon event as an international showcase. Across the country, coaches awed by F-M and unaware of the team’s methods and discoveries, whispered, “How do they do it?”
From adopting long-forgotten “Stotan” creeds—combining the rigors of a Spartan and stoic lifestyle—to delving into teenage developmental psychology and gender-blindness in training, Amazing Racers is a must read for millions of runners and the millions more who strive for better performance.
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About the Author
Table of Contents
Prologue: Broadway Bound ix
1 Shared Suffering: 2014 Starting Line 1
2 Killer Eyes: Early 2000s 11
3 The Stotan Challenge: 2004 Season I 19
4 The Machine Is Born: 2004 Season II 28
5 Pain Is the Purifier: 2004 Season III 47
6 The White Moment: 2004 Season IV 65
7 Party Time in Portland: 2004 Season V 76
8 Earth, Wind, and Fire: 2005 Season I 88
9 Saturday Night Lights: 2005 Season II 101
10 Little Girls Grow Up: 2006 Season I 114
11 Comfortably Numb: 2006 Season II 131
12 Hard Rocks at Otter Creek: 2007 Season 148
13 Fits Over F-M Footage: 2008 Season 164
14 Pilgrimage to Portsea: 2008 Encore 183
15 Risking Failure: 2009 Season I 192
16 Sweeping Signals: 2009 Season II 202
17 Play Dates in Fairyland: 2010 Season I 211
18 Wings on Their Feet: 2010 Season II 222
19 Emotional Rescue: 2011 Season 232
20 Mud in Your Eye: 2012 Season 251
21 Remember the Alamo: 2013 Season 267
22 Poet Warriors: 2014 Season II 285
23 Here Comes the Sun: 2014 Finish Line 294
Epilogue I Human Sacrifice (2015) 313
Epilogue II Everyone Accountable (2016) 315
Epilogue III Their Finest Hour (2017) 319
Appendix I Fayetteville-Manlius and Nike Cross Nationals 325
Appendix II Where the Stotans Are Now (as of October 2018) 327