Runner in Red


There has been a long-standing belief that a woman slipped into the 1951 Boston Marathon undetected and ran the race.


Here’s the story: there has been a long-standing belief that a woman slipped into the 1951 Boston Marathon undetected and ran the race. If that could be proven it would make her the first woman to have run a marathon on American soil. She wore “red,” as claimed by a group of Canadian runners who say they tried to bring the matter to the attention of race Director Jock Semple and other race officials. But to no avail, their story was never corroborated, and so today the “Runner in Red” remains a mystery and an urban legend.

A period piece set against the backdrop of the 2000 Boston Marathon, the Millennial marathon, 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.


What reviewers are saying about Runner in Red

“Runner in Red moves faster than a speeding bullet through the streets of Boston, capturing the essence
of an old myth and the excitement of a new empowering story of women, passion, courage and heart.”
—Kathrine Switzer, first registered woman runner of the Boston Marathon in 1967,
she ran it again 50 years later in 2017; founder, 261 Fearless, which empowers women through running (

“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

“Tom Murphy’s Runner In Red is an entertaining, fast-paced, mystery thriller weaving real-life characters and historically accurate events into a
scintillating tale about a search for the first woman to run the Boston Marathon – predating Roberta “Bobbie” Gibb’s iconic 1966 feat by fifteen years.
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.



Based on 39 Reviews
Brian J. Nicholas
October 17, 2021

5.0 out of 5 stars A must read!

If you are a runner or not, Tom Murphy will pull you into his novel with a riveting story line, interesting tokens from the Boston Marathon, as well as images that we can all relate to. In the end you will shed a tear, as you cheer the characters across the finish line.

Thomas McManus
October 10, 2021

5.0 out of 5 stars Step up! Step up!

From the very first chapter, I found it difficult to put this book down. An amazing job by Tom Murphy intertwining fact, fiction, love and heartbreak in this deeply enthralling novel. A must read for all.

B. Davis
October 4, 2021

5.0 out of 5 stars I'm a runner and I couldn't put it down

Great story of the history of woman’s running. Quick read, interesting story. Tells the story of how females had to fight their way into marathon running

August 10, 2021

5.0 out of 5 stars Tom Murphy…..Great person!

I had the pleasure of meeting Tom Murphy this evening. What a wonderful person. He offered to give me a copy of this book but I insisted on purchasing. I will begin reading the second it comes in the mail!

libby paul
July 3, 2021

5.0 out of 5 stars Multiple genres- mystery, romance and adventure all in one book.

I love how the author sends strong messages about life as we grapple with the mystery of the woman in red. I’ve read three of his captivating novels and they all echo the theme -“We get when we give.” Tom Murphy illustrates this life lesson through twists in the plot and his characters.

David Oldfield
March 5, 2021

A most read

It had me enthralled.

James M. Roy
November 10, 2020

5.0 out of 5 stars The Author Certainly Knows The Sport!

A great book written by a very talented runner and writer, Tom Murphy!

June 5, 2019

5.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational story

Inspiring fictional account with lots of running history built in.

May 3, 2019

5.0 out of 5 stars Great story with universal appeal

Runner in Red is an easy-to-read/ hard-to-put-down story told through the eyes of 29 year old narrator, Colin Patrick, whose career as a once promising young shortstop for the Boston Red Sox had been cut short after an on-field accident years before the story begins. He has drifted into a career as a TV news cameraman; and has worked in several different cities for several different stations before winding up in Boston as assistant to the high-powered, talented, Bridget Maloney, a one-time marathon runner, now in her late 40s. From there the story takes off. As Colin adjusts to his new surroundings, he becomes infatuated with a beautiful young woman runner after a couple of chance encounters. He then becomes drawn into the lore of the Boston Marathon and its history, particularly the legacy of women’s participation in the annual event. Tom Murphy’s writing is full of compassion and love. Themes of loyalty, betrayal, family secrets, making-peace-with-the-past, romance, intrigue, bitterness, forgiveness, and redemption will have you turning pages as the mix of fictional and historic figures search for truth, fulfillment, and love.

February 13, 2019

5.0 out of 5 stars A mystery I REALLY thought I could solve while reading!

At every turn, I was completely convinced I’d figured out who she was. And I kept being wrong. 🤔 So either Tom Murphy is a very good mystery writer or I am a dreadful sleuth! I’m going with the first. Good job, Tom!

December 22, 2018

5.0 out of 5 stars Bonafide Page Turner

As an avid runner and former television reporter, RUNNER IN RED captured my heart right off the bat with the “What if” scenario. Did a female runner wearing red actually race in the1951 Boston Marathon? As the plot unfolds you will eagerly anticipate each twist and turn until you learn the astonishing truth. Tom Murphy is an exceptional story teller. As a runner himself his detail about the sport and Boston area transports you smack in the middle of the action. You won’t put the novel down until you cross the finish line. Do yourself or your running partner a favor and hit the buy button now.

Jana Rice
July 25, 2018

5.0 out of 5 stars Definite read!

I finally started my summer reading with this book – and I am happy to say I finished it in 2 hours! This book has everything, mystery, history, family dynamics and a love story that’ll make you smile. It moves at a perfect pace, and anyone who lives in Boston proper will appreciate the places mentioned. Absolutely would recommend to anyone!

Nancy Fitzgerald
June 7, 2018

5.0 out of 5 stars Super plausible story and timing could not have been better …

A well written, well paced book that had me hooked by the story and characters right away. I had to keep reminding myself it was fiction. Super plausible story and timing could not have been better with first woman to win the race this year!!!

Eugene O'Neill
June 4, 2018

5.0 out of 5 stars Boston Irish Runners

What a great read! Marathons in NYC and Boston. Scenes in Phily, Albany, and Egremont! What’s not to like? How in the world can there be surprises every few pages? The characters are timely developed and most are very likable or relatable. How about someone Irish not speaking to someone in the family? How about guilt and gender bias? Most runner’s will love it. Read it in two days.

Tom Rice
April 21, 2018

5.0 out of 5 stars Page turner. Read it in two days!

I really enjoyed Runner in Red. I read quit a bit, about 3 books a month. I read Connely, Demille, Grisham, Flynn, Sanford, Baldacci and the like. Your book kept my attention cover to cover. Well done! I really enjoyed it.

Passionate Reader
April 19, 2018

5.0 out of 5 stars It's a great read.

After reading this story I felt like sprinting and falling in love. The unraveling mystery kept me engrossed. If only Colin Patrick were single, available….and real☺

Michael Patrick
April 7, 2018

5.0 out of 5 stars I also loved the sweet feel ending

The book is a page-turner with its unexpected twists, the character development and the revelation of their intertwined pasts. I also loved the sweet feel ending. It is always a pleasure to be reminded of the possibilities for inward and outward joy and accomplishment.

Christy Olson
April 1, 2018

5.0 out of 5 stars Race to read!

A great book that you race to finish! A wonderful story of the intricacies of family relationships and the strength and courage of women were all woven into this enjoyable tale of the legend of what may have been the first woman marathon runner. A must read in this age where women again are stepping up to the challenge of finding their voice and their way in society. A very touching story.

March 24, 2018

5.0 out of 5 stars Intrigue and Running!! Great Fun Read!

Intrigue and running? You bet! And a real delight! And, if you’re like me, and dream of running a BQ one day, it’s just fun to read this story about the legend of the first woman who ran Boston! Tom makes it all so real on the streets of Boston. And, if you are heading to Boston on Patriots Day, read this on the plane to Boston. You’ll land with a big smile on your face!

R. M. Hungate
January 28, 2018

4.0 out of 5 stars a mystery for runners.

A great fictional mystery around the legend of the first possible woman runner in the Boston Marathon. A great cast of characters, some of which I hope show up in future books. Great local connections to the Boston area. The narrator of the book reminds me of Sam from the TV series "Cheers". I really hope this author uses this book as a start of a series.

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