A Book Review of D.C. Born's The Part-Empty Box

printed in UltraMarathon Cycling Association

The Part-Empty Box, written by D.C. Born, is a must read for any athlete contemplating racing in the Race Across America (RAAM) or a RAAM racer looking for crew members to accompany him/her across the country in the Race Across America.

The Part-Empty Box is a diary of the events of Steve Born’s 1991 RAAM race and the thoughts, behaviors, and happenings of Steve, his support crew, and his father, D.C. Born. This book is written much like D.C. Born’s Release The Pace Giraffe, Steve Born’s 1988 Race Across America challenge.

The Part- Empty Box reads like a chronicle of events with the use of many adjectives and vivid use of words to describe the thoughts, feelings, and movements of the racer, crew and crew chief, D.C. Born. This use of word description allows the reader to actually feel as though he/she is right there with the athlete and his race crew. Readers that have been involved with the RAAM will find this easy to relate to and other readers not yet involved with this event will find it helps with knowing exactly what to expect during this eight to ten day race across the United States.

The Part-Empty Box starts out with the usual nervous jitters of any bicycle racer, especially one about to embark on a race as big and important as the Race Across America. As one reads the book they will be able to follow all of the exact routes and towns that the Born crew and racer traveled through. At times this seemed to be extensive reading but with the thought in mind that this was an actual minute by minute, day by day account of the racer and the race crew’s lives, it was easy to slip into a sort of innocent bystander position and read the book for what it is. It is an account of what exactly went on during the race from the crew chief’s own point of view. This is a view often overlooked and especially not often recognized by the racer.

The book describes the hard ships, the physical and mental pain and the many disappointments that can come with racing in the RAAM. Including the concerns of the crew and the difficulties of maintaining a happy and balanced group of people, usually with only one certain thing in common, the racer. This concept, as Born describes, is of great importance and any racer that has raced in the RAAM knows that it is the crew that keeps the racer going from one side of the continent to the other.

As the Born crew witnessed there where also many interesting and silly events and people that presented themselves along the way. Several of these events made the book very interesting and suspenseful at times.

I know from experience that it is very difficult to maintain a good attitude for both crew and racer. It is, most probably, one of the hardest aspects of this race. I would like to see many racers and crews learn from Steve’s experiences and one day find the box is half full and no longer half empty, as Steve and his support crew did.