One Man's Leg by Paul Martin, paperback, 250 pages, GreyCore Press (2002), ISBN: 0967185157
As a kid, athletic competition provided some relief from an otherwise difficult childhood. Later, living in a foster home, it was the stage on which to gain attention that did not seem to be available elsewhere. But it was only at the age of 25, when he had lost a part of the very thing he relied on most to compete (specifically, the lower half of his left leg), that Paul Martin made his commitment, and went on to become a world champion triathlete and Paralympic competitor. "One Man's Leg" is the story of Paul Martin's life to date. And what a life it has been. Whether the passage is laugh-out-loud funny, fiercely heartbreaking or gently thought provoking, few readers will fail to be captivated by Paul Martin's adventures and misadventures! Things just happen to Paul: storms form out of the blue when he is sailing; culprits steal his bike when his back is turned, and they break into his car while he is ensconced in his highest moment: completing his first ever marathon. While insurance companies are willing to help him acquire a leg to stand on, they balk every time he needs one to run on. And he seems to be accident prone, even after the accident that claimed his limb. As one observer puts it, "There are two kinds of people in the world: those who like to dance with gravity and those who don't". But Paul Martin has a very special gift, and it is in addition to his athletic prowess and his ability to write honestly, fluidly and at a pace that makes it impossible not to want to turn the page: when life hands Paul Martin lemons, he makes lemonade. Reading "One Man's Leg", the reader can't help but want to make lemonade too. And though the book is never didactic, the recipe is there for anyone who wants it, lurking between the lines, evident in Paul's good humor and in every choice he makes. Paul's endurance and determination are off the charts, as are those of the "badasses" he runs (and swims, skis, bikes and plays hockey) with. To read "One Man's Leg" is to experience the life of an athlete vicariously, to learn to redefine "disability" (or is it "this ability?"), to learn the true meaning of team spirit, and to come to love the finish line, as it applies to each of us and no matter how far off we fear it might be. The list of Paul's performances and achievements is endless: first challenged athlete to complete The Double Ironman; International Triathlon Union Lower extremity amputee World Champion; Half marathon and 5k national record holder; first leg amputee to participate in an expedition length adventure race; 1997 U.S. Olympic Committee's Disabled Athlete of the Year... and the list goes on! What an inspiration! What a celebration of life! What a pleasure it is to get to know Paul Martin intimately in these pages.