On the Run: Greenfield native Joe Martino publishes book about his running tales

  • The cover of Joe Martino’s book, “On the Run: Friendships & Finish Lines.” Contributed Photo

Sports Editor
Published: 11/20/2020 7:10:41 PM
Modified: 11/20/2020 7:10:28 PM

After decades firmly entrenched in running communities throughout Massachusetts, Greenfield native Joe Martino had an idea. Rarely at a loss for words and almost always with a story to tell, he decided to put many of those tales on paper.

That was two years ago, and the fruits of his labor are born throughout the pages of “On the Run: Friendships & Finish Lines.”

Martino, who now lives in Medway, takes readers along for a 21-chapter journey in his book, which is available now for sale on Amazon. It’s a labor of love, a series of vignettes born from his early days galloping in and out of the woods at Highland Park through training runs with famous friends Bill Rodgers, who authors the book’s foreword, and Tom Fleming.

“I wanted to leave a legacy to my kids, grandkids, family members who really weren’t around to share that part of my life with me,” began Martino of his running career. “It’s a big hunk of my life that they didn’t get to be involved in. And I also wanted to thank people. A lot of people that played a very important role in my life came through running. I wanted to tell stories of the way it was. There are, I think, 235 different names in the book so there’s a lot of local flavor.”

The book weaves a mostly chronological path through Martino’s running career, beginning with his first chapter, aptly titled “Greenfield.” Franklin County runners will recognize many of the landmarks, events and names, as he paints a picture of the running boom overtaking his hometown during the 1970s and ’80s.

“There’s a lot of Greenfield in the book,” Martino explained. “Greenfield was a big deal to me. It was a very important place and still is. It was just amazing to grow up there, especially if you’re a runner. I do take some time in the book to talk about my running courses and really fond memories growing up.”

The book’s cover offers readers a visual glimpse into Martino’s running career. The featured photo comes from the 1982 Johnny Kelly Half-Marathon in Hyannis, taken during the peak of his running days just over a decade removed from winning the 1969 Western Mass. Cross Country championship as a high schooler at GHS.

Martino said he was “blown away” by the finished product.

“It just exceeded my expectations,” he admitted.

Many of the stories were spurred from his running logs, which Martino said he still has the majority of dating back to 1967. A few notes or comments jolted his memory, leading to several chapters featured in the book.

“I would see that formation of a story from something that happened, so the running logs were really the biggest reference for me to use,” he said. “I’m not trying to fool anyone here, I’m not a writer. I’m a storyteller. I think I say in there, my high school English teachers would be quite surprised.”

Publishing a book is certainly an undertaking, particularly during a pandemic. Martino said having the book for sale on Amazon ($14.99 paperback, $9.99 Kindle) is helpful, though he’s exploring different avenues to get copies into local bookstores as well.

“It boils down to creativity, finding different ways to reach people,” he said. “I want to have fun with this. I didn’t do this as a business venture, I did it out of fun and my love for running. That’s what really drove this. I want to keep reminding myself, ‘Let’s have fun with this and hopefully sell a few books.’”


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