“The Book of Kel” edited by Amby Burfoot and Gail Kislevitz


The Book of Kel, a collection remembering marathoner and educator “Young John” Kelley, is now available from Amazon in paperback and for the Kindle. The book was designed by Y42K Publishing Services and includes many intimate photos of Kelley with the people, places, and animals he loved best.

John J. Kelley was the first great American marathoner after World War II, a radical thinker, a great teacher, the most humble of men, and a friend to all people and animals. Kelley won the 1957 Boston Marathon and ran in two Olympics. He practiced Henry David Thoreau’s simple living, started organic gardening way ahead of his time, and rode his bicycle to school rather than driving an “infernal, internal combustion machine.”

In this wide-ranging collection of essays and reminiscences, those who knew Kelley best reflect on how he changed their lives. Julia Chase, the country’s first woman road racer, and Amby Burfoot, a Boston winner 11 years after Kelley, explain what they learned from Kelley. His daughters recall what it was like to live in a running-centric household in the 1960s. And the man behind the Kelley statue explains how it came to reside next to Mystic Pizza.

Best of all, the book contains more than 50 pages of articles written by Kelley himself, including excerpts from his never-before-seen memoir.

“Kelley was at the epicenter of American marathoning–in the trenches doing the spade work for the likes of Frank Shorter and me and everyone who has come along since,” notes marathon legend Bill Rodgers. “In his day marathoners were treated as second-class athletes. But Kelley didn’t let that stop him. He was quiet, had tremendous drive, and was tough as nails.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.