Jolley Prize 2017 (Winner): 'Pheidippides' by Eliza Robertson

Eliza Robertson

Eliza Robertson

Eliza Robertson studied creative writing at the University of East Anglia, where she received the Man Booker Scholarship. In 2013, she


At the first interview, I sat in a plastic canteen chair while Berkeley lay under a towel and a woman with spiked hair dug into the cords of his thigh. He rested his chin on his forearms so he could talk, his eyes boring into my notebook, as if he could read the questions upside-down from the massage table. His blonde eyebrows faded into his skin and made his forehead look overdeveloped.

He’d just finished sixteenth in the men’s marathon with a time of 2:20:37, the only North American in the top twenty. I’d pitched a profile to the Globe on the premise that he was born in Nanaimo. We could sort of claim him. I asked the reader-pleaser questions – did he consider himself Canadian?


Not a bit? I tried. What NHL team did he support?

I don’t watch hockey.

My son Dustin would be disappointed. He’d come up with that question. I told Berkeley so.

What’s Dustin’s team? he asked.

The Canucks.

Tell him I like the Flames.

He leaned his weight onto one elbow and twisted around to see the masseuse, who pushed her thumbs down his hamstring.

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Published in August 2017, no. 393

Comments (1)

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    Wonderful story, took me there, gave me much to consider. I am a painter/writer and this story was weighted for suspense and an understory I loved. Said a great deal without fuss. Loved it.

    Friday, 11 August 2017 12:17 posted by Carol Oliver

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