In Search of Al Howie
About the Book
The story of Al Howie is a remarkable and at times unbelievable adventure into the heart of the longest races in the world with one of modern history’s most eccentric ultra-marathon runners.
If you ran 2225 kilometres from Winnipeg to Ottawa, you’d be crazy. If the day after you arrived in Ottawa you showed up to a 24-hour race and started knocking back beers, you would be stupid. If you then ran the 195 kilometre, 24-hour race, won it, and ran all the way back to Winnipeg, you’d be a true freak of nature. If later, at 46 years old, you ran 7200 kilometres across Canada in the world-record time of 72 days, 10 hours, and then followed it up two weeks later by breaking another world record (which happened to be your own) in the longest certified race on Earth, you’d be a mega-distance alien. In all of this, if you were forever broke, using fake names and aliases, teetering on the edge of sanity, and doing it all in racing flats, you’d be Al Howie.
Based on interviews with Howie himself during his final two years (he died in 2016), Jared Beasley’s book takes the reader into the incomprehensible distances of a legendary runner and the amazing and complex world of an astounding figure in modern sports history.
“Al Howie came to Canada in the early 1970s on the run from Interpol, with a three-packs-a-day cigarette habit, a thirst for drugs and booze, and a son he brought across the Atlantic during a custody dispute. His story so fascinated New York author Jared Beasley, who stumbled upon it by accident, that he put it all down in his new book, In Search of Al Howie.” – CBC News
“A quirky, captivating biography. If the author described a smoke-filled bar, they’d smell it… the pages fly by, like the miles beneath Howie’s feet.” – Kirkus Reviews
“[In Search of Al Howie] is recommended, not just for runners, but for anyone who may be fascinated by the stories of the lives of people who accomplish unbelievable feats. Al Howie’s life story as chronicled by Beasley is a legend of incomprehensible focus and determination.” – Athletics Illustrated
“Jared Beasley sketches a soulful portrait of an embattled figure who, fueled by fish n’ chips and beer and instinct, won dozens of mega-distance races in the 1980s and ’90s, inspiring many with his working-class heroism and singular devotion to mileage.” – Adventure Journal
“In Search of Al Howie will leave you yearning for a recent yet distant unplugged era in human-powered adventure, when a free spirit kindled righteous pursuits of endurance as a way of life.” – Adventure Journal
“Probably the most accomplished ultrarunner Canada has ever seen.” – Canadian Running Magazine
“Solid research and entertaining from a non-runner perspective… character, persona and what the 70s, 80s and 90s represented in many ways.” – Joe Fejes, American 6-day record-holder
“An in-depth exploration of surely [Canada’s] most perplexing sports hero.” – Podium Runner
“…a colourful look at a true eccentric.” – Western Mariner
“Solid research and entertaining from a non-runner perspective… character, persona and what the 70s, 80s and 90s represented in many ways.” – Joe Fejes – American 6-day record-holder
“Howie excelled at exploits bordering on the preposterous. He had an appetite for adventure that proved insatiable, and he spent his life running away from his demons and towards an elusive dream.” – The Shakeout Podcast
“An energetic work that chases the legend and captures the life story of premier Canadian extreme-distance runner Al Howie.” – Kirkus Starred Review
“Beasley…writes in a cinematic fashion, interspersing flashbacks between chapters with third-person snapshots of Howie’s signature Trans-Canada run.” – Kirkus Starred Review
“The book…reveals the relationships, personal demons, and twists of fate that shaped Howie, rendering the legend fully human—fearful and driven, flawed but likable.” – Kirkus Starred Review
“This book is one of those “can’t put down” reads” – Outer Edge Magazine
“It’s a crazy ride, and one well worth reading.” – Outer Edge Magazine
“Al Howie’s story is one that richly deserved telling, and Jared Beasley does a commendable job in bringing it back to public attention.” – Ormsby Review
” He was maniacally obsessed to the detriment of all those who loved him, but there is no doubt, that this myopic disposition is what made him one of the greatest mega distance runners of all time.” – Treeline Journal
“Al Howie is a Canadian ultrarunner who ran really, really far. Like Prince George to Boston far. Like Winnipeg to Ottawa and back to Winnipeg far. He ran across Canada in record time and won more than 50 ultramarathons and multiday races in his lifetime.” – Run the North