From left: Ellen Raffio, Tom Raffio and Erika Cohen with their new book. (Gil Talbot)
Tom Raffio, CEO of Northeast Delta Dental in Concord, and his wife Ellen have been avid runners, spending many weekends running races throughout New England. One of the aspects of races they most enjoy is the runners they meet and befriend, including running legends who happen to live in NH.
“We are so lucky to run with these amazing running superstars who are local,” says Ellen. Adds Tom, “You can line up with these people where you can’t do that in other sports.”
They found many of the runners they met had fascinating stories, and Ellen suggested writing a book featuring those stories. That became “Stories from the Starting Line,” which they wrote with Erika Alison Cohen, a journalist who has spent the past six years working as a ghost writer and who has also been a runner since she was a teenager.
The book includes the stories of 61 runners, and Tom had run with all but one. The book tells their stories from various racing perspectives and through 11 chapters, including “The First Race,” “Running Uphill,” “Community Running” and “The Lure of the Woods.”
Cohen met Tom while she was a staff writer at Business NH Magazine, where she wrote a series of stories, “CEO on the Go,” interviewing runners who were executives about running and business. Tom was one of her subjects. When Tom and Ellen decided to write their book, he reconnected with Cohen last year.
The book, released in June, features such stories as a woman who started running to rehabilitate after a skiing accident and a man who turned to running to help him get through prostate cancer. Another story explores the journey of the first woman to win both the Boston Marathon and the Mount Washington Road Race. And there is the story of David Audet, a Granite Stater who is one of 10 people in the world to run a marathon in under three hours in every state.
“These people shared from their hearts,” says Tom. “Whether they were a superstar or an everyday runner like myself, they share an appreciation of hard work.” The book is available at The Bookery in Manchester and Gibson’s Book Store in Concord as well as on Amazon. All proceeds from the sale of the book are being donated to charity.