Coming April 1st, 2018


A Search for the First Woman to Run a Marathon in America


$15.99 Paperback ISBN: 978-1-948338-02-8
$2.99 E-Book ISBN: 978-1-948338-04-2
$2.99 Kindle ISBN: 978-1-948338-03-5

About the novel

Based on a real-life legend that a woman “wearing red” slipped into the 1951 Boston Marathon—which would make her the first woman to run a marathon in America—RUNNER IN RED is a period piece set against the backdrop of the 2000 Boston Marathon, the Millennial marathon. Written by Tom Murphy, who co-authored Just Call Me Jock, this fictional mystery novel is also a love story, family drama and uplifting tale of the human spirit that explores the history of women’s running in page-turning fashion. While promoting a cure for lung cancer in Murphy’s wife, Barb (a marathon runner’s) name, proceeds from the book will support the expansion of Barb’s Beer, the beer Murphy created to raise funds to find a cure for lung cancer. The logo for Barb’s Beer is a silhouette of Barb crossing the finish line at the 2000 Boston Marathon.

See more about our campaign to help cure lung cancer at

Reviews and Testimonials

Runner in Red brings to life the urban legend of the first woman to run in the Boston Marathon in the 1950s, with a compelling story of a multi-generational family torn apart over the exclusion of women from the race, but ultimately reunited and redeemed.

Leslie Wheeler, Author of Rattlesnake Hill (Encircle Publications 2018)

…an entertaining, fast-paced, mystery thriller weaving real-life characters and historically accurate events into a scintillating tale…  This novel is a must read for all fans of running.  

Jack Fultz, winner of the 1976 Boston Marathon and trainer for the Dana Faber charity running programs

Tom Murphy’s Runner in Red is an incredible story with so much local color and facts one could almost believe his book may be more fact than fiction.

Gloria G. Ratti, Vice President Boston Athletic Association


Read more about the story behind Runner in Red


An Introduction to Runner in Red

...It was an on-the-cuff comment by one of Jock’s patients that triggered my long-standing interest in a “what if” that has led to this story that follows. The fellow on the rubdown table asked Jock if he would have chased the “Runner in Red” in 1951, and Jock responded with a throw-away line, “If she woulda been real, I would have protected the rules.” “If she woulda been real,” caught my attention and sent me to the Boston Public Library to research the “Runner in Red.” I learned that the legend was real...


Read an excerpt

...The camera cut to First Avenue and Ellen became visible suddenly, 50 yards behind the women leaders, as they made their way up the boulevard. She was unmistakable in her red top and blonde ponytail, and she was moving fast, eating up large quantities of real estate that separated her from the four in the lead. ...The roar of the million-plus crowd, thickest on the East Side, offered a thunderclap for the first women, which included Ellen now, who continued to inch closer....

About the Author

After graduating from the University of Wisconsin, Tom Murphy—a life-long runner—taught in Boston schools where he quickly fell in with the road running crowd. With John J. Kelley, the 1957 Boston Marathon winner, Tom wrote Just Call Me Jock in 1982, a history of the Boston Marathon as seen through the eyes of Jock Semple, the colorful race co-director. Tom’s novel, Runner in Red, is a fictional search for the ‘runner wearing red” in 1951 but it is also a love story, moving family drama and life-affirming celebration of the human spirit. In 2006, Tom wrote a book about the aviation heroes on 9/11, called Reclaiming the Sky, which led the president of Fordham University to invite Tom to create an institute, the Human Resiliency Institute, to put healing lessons from the book into programs. The institute’s lead program, (Resiliency) Edge4Vets, teaches vets how to tap their strengths to get jobs. See more at Tom also created a beer, called Barb’s Beer, to raise funds to help cure lung cancer in his late wife (a Boston Marathon runner’s) name.

Proceeds from Runner in Red will support expansion of the Barb’s Beer campaign to find a cure for lung cancer.

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