Guest Post+Giveaway: Dan Martinez on Running Cross Country

  • Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Last year I read Cross Country 101, a story that focuses on sports as a perfect outlet for teens's boundless energy. I don't have enough good things to say about its positive message and today I am glad to host its author Dan Martinez to share some of his thoughts on writing this book every teen should read.  

Thank you, Dan, for sharing your passion for running with us. And thank you also for the giveaway!

On Running Cross Country 101 by Dan Martinez

I have been running for a long time. I ran in high school and college. It was a great experience for me. This book was a long time in the coming. I had the inspiration for the book when I thought of an ending!

I knew I wanted to write something real and believable, but real life is usually pretty mundane and boring. Realistic fiction allowed me to write about a young protagonist who crosses paths with a potpourri of issues teenagers can relate to, lots of conflict, struggles and situations.

I thought it would be good to do some research. Although I’ve always been running, I got reacquainted with high school cross country watching some races. The story takes place in a Southern California location and explores actual cross country courses. Mount San Antonio College, on the eastern edge of Los Angeles County in the City of Walnut, is most notable which hosts the Mt. SAC Cross Country Invitational (Mt. SAC).

I've had a lot of experiences with the subject, a real-life varsity squad frosh in both high school and college, so it was sometimes easy to write things down. Other times, I would spend half a day worrying about the right word. A few drafts and many revisions later the novel was complete.

Like Sean Astin-starrer “Rudy” in form but not factuality, “Cross Country 101” is an original treatment of a common adolescent exercise -- gaining acceptance in a new environment -- set on an apathetic cross country squad, years and feats from the real-life characters in track and field biopics.

Cross country races are usually the same length but the courses vary greatly and are full of variables. Inevitably, you’ll be comparing your time against teammates and competitors alike. There’s an inherent history in running. Some courses have been around for years, time-tested and proven to be formidable. You can compare your time against generations of runners. It can be a humbling experience to stack up against the best, from the moment to yesteryear, or as a challenge to try to improve your way to the top. The story is laced with various historical references or homages to great prep runners throughout. Some you might recognize, like school names known for a notable runner. Others you might figure out, such as a bib number, 1424, which happens to be the course record of (in book) forenamed course.

Sure, this is a sports story involving cross country but at the heart of this gripping adventure, it’s about self-discovery and attaining an identity. And with it, life’s lessons are being both learned and applied on the way.

I hope you find this story to be an exciting teen experience for young people to relate to or maybe others might consider visiting.

I would like to thank you, Aloi, for having me here, for supporting my book, and being such a great ally to the indie community.

About the Author
Dan Martinez is a former University of Oregon distance runner, a real-life varsity squad frosh in both high school and college. Read more about running at the author's website

Dan is giving away one copy of Cross Country 101 (your choice of an e-book or paper copy)
Open US/Canada only.

Cross Country 101
 by Dan Martinez Kindle edition | Paperback

Synopsis: Eric Hunt is an incoming freshman at Regal High School. His father expects him to go out for football but after being humiliated in a football scrimmage, decides to try cross country. He has some success despite being bullied by Beef and Crush during school. Eric, a slight-of-build frosh, then determines -- against student and parental expectations -- to excel at it. He makes the varsity squad as his rival Bryce, at Skyline High School, had already accomplished. Once on the varsity, Eric struggles through animosity from the upperclassmen while trying to maintain good grades. Can Regal cross country establish teamwork? Can Eric develop his talent enough to challenge rival Bryce?


  1. Dan - I love the premise of your book! As a former varsity runner myself, I've run on Mt. SAC's course and at their invitational many times, ha. I feel like reading this would take "relating to the character, Eric Hunt" to a whole new level. I'll be sure to read this at some point!
    Thanks for the giveaway, Aloi!


  2. Thank you for the giveaway. This looks like a book my husband would enjoy. He runs and reads. Not at the same time. LOL!

  3. Hubby is a graduate of University of Oregon. Love the running outfit that represents the Duck's colors.

  4. Aspen,
    Having been on the Mt. SAC course, you will certainly have quite an experience and go back to your own experiences reading about Eric’s race(s).

    Crystal, You’re welcome and good luck!

    Emi, Go Ducks! Thanks for posting.

    Good luck to all,
    Dan Martinez

  5. I used to be a runner, but haven't been for many years. My son, daughter in law and grandson are runners though, and this book sounds like one we'd all enjoy.

  6. This sounds like something I'd really enjoy. Thanks for telling me about it.

  7. ALWAYS looking for more XC books for my runners! This looks really great. Thanks for letting us know about it.


© guiltless readingMaira Gall