A Most Unlikely Runner: Inspiration From the Heart of a Warrior

book cover


The runner within Mary McManus was born in her imagination. When Mary received the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome in December, 2006, she knew she was at a crossroads in her life. She was told to prepare to spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair and to leave her award winning social work career if there were any hope of staving off the progressive nature of the disease. In February of 2007, Mary got still and asked for Divine Guidance. The answer to her prayer? A  poem called “Running the Race” that foreshadowed her 2009 Boston Marathon run. In “A Most Unlikely Runner: Inspiration From the Heart of a Warrior”, Mary takes you through her magnificent journey of transformation with poetry and narrative that will uplift and inspire you. After a setback in 2021/2022 and, after a 6 year hiatus from participating in events, Mary set her sights on tackling the Bermuda hills in the 2024 10K celebrating 17 years of healing, and her 70th birthday intent on sharing her powerful message of healing, hope and possibilities!



6/3/2024 from 7-8 pm at Livite in Brookline 1644 Beacon Street--Light refreshments served and food to order available. Books are $15.00--Cash, Venmo and Square accepted

Here's what people are saying:

"A Most Unlikely Runner:Inspiration From The Heart of a Warrior" is a selection of the WBZ News Radio Book Club

“Despite all appearances to the contrary, Mary McManus became a runner at age 54 after the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome. She was told to prepare to spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair. Instead, she crossed the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon. I was privileged to witness that moment at the start when I gave the oral command to send off the mobility impaired athletes. You will have the privilege of meeting Mary on the pages of “A Most Unlikely Runner: Inspiration From The Heart of a Warrior.” After a setback in her health and wellness journey in 2021/2022, and a six year hiatus from events, she once again garnered her incredible strength, resilience and determination to tackle the 2024 Bermuda 10K! Discover Mary’s powerful message of healing, hope and possibilities that is sure to ignite your heart of a warrior as we run the marathon of life!” ~Dave McGillivray, President and Owner of DMSE Sports, Inc.

“Mary is an awesome and inspiring individual that eats hills for breakfast! Thank you Mary for sharing your story and showing the power of positivity.” ~Mike Seaman, CEO Raccoon Media Group

Mike with book
Mary was thrilled to present Mike with an author copy when she was an Ambassador for his Boston Outdoor Expo!

"Meeting Mary McManus at the Boston Run Show was an encounter I'll never forget. After attending my presentation, Mary, a spirited and inspiring figure, approached me to share her remarkable journey and to purchase a copy of my book. Our connection was instant, especially after discovering our shared experience with Post-Polio Syndrome—a condition that had also affected my mother.

Mary's Story
Mary's story is nothing short of extraordinary. Diagnosed with polio at the tender age of five, she faced an uphill battle from the start. Yet, it was her diagnosis of the Post-Polio Syndrome in her early 50s that marked the beginning of an incredible transformation. Rather than succumbing to the limitations imposed by the diagnosis, Mary chose to challenge them head-on. Her memoir, "A Most Unlikely Runner: Inspiration from the Heart of a Warrior," is a testament to her indomitable spirit and relentless pursuit of overcoming obstacles.

The book is a compelling blend of diary entries and poetry, offering readers an intimate look into Mary's journey from a polio survivor to a marathon runner. It's a narrative that's both uplifting and deeply personal, highlighting the power of determination and the human spirit's capacity to triumph over adversity.

Touching story
One of the most touching aspects of Mary's story is her relationship with her twin daughter, with whom she shares the joy of running. This connection underscores the importance of family support in her journey, showcasing how encouragement and love can fuel one's resolve to keep fighting, no matter the odds.

As someone who has seen firsthand the challenges posed by Post-Polio Syndrome, I found Mary's story particularly moving. Her ability to push beyond her boundaries and run numerous races, including securing a charity spot in the Boston Marathon, is awe-inspiring. Celebrating her 70th birthday by running the Bermuda Hills 10K further exemplifies her extraordinary resilience and zest for life.

Why I loved the book
"A Most Unlikely Runner: Inspiration from the Heart of a Warrior" is more than just a memoir—it's a beacon of hope and a source of inspiration for anyone facing seemingly insurmountable challenges. Mary McManus reminds us that with determination, support, and a bit of courage, we can achieve anything we set our minds to.

Set to be released in May, this book is a must-read for anyone looking for a story of courage, transformation, and the unyielding power of the human spirit. Mary McManus is a true inspiration, continually fighting and proving that she is a most unlikely runner." ~Hilary JM Topper, MPA

With Bill Rodgers
Mary with Bill Rodgers at the Boston Run Show 2024

"I enjoyed reading your new book, which is so appropriately titled, A Most Unlikely Runner....I especially like the way you understand Running as more than just the physical movement, and how you linked the great American Poet, Robert Frost to Running...  I know you will always be a Runner!"~Bill Rodgers, Olympian, former record holder in the marathon and 4 time Boston and NYC Marathon Champion

wbz with jr
On 6/1/2008 Mary was a guest on the Jordan Rich Show on WBZ News Radio. Mary is grateful for his support of her journey through the years!

"One of my dear friends, Mary McManus, is truly an inspiration. She has written several books of prose and poetry about overcoming physical challenge. Her latest book is, "A Most Unlikely Runner Inspiration From The Heart of a Warrior" and she certainly is that. Many years ago she was dealt a serious blow: the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease with no known cure. As a young person, Mary suffered the effects of childhood paralytic polio as well as abuse at the hands of some family members, but she was determined at a young age to heal and has been on that journey ever since. Mary has consistently defied the odds, even running the Boston Marathon a few years back. And despite setbacks, she reflects on her body's capacity to get stronger, to heal. Heartfelt and beautiful words in this new book will make you believe that anything in this world is possible." ~Jordan Rich, WBZ Boston's News Radio Host

Scott Jurek with book
With Scott Jurek, one of the greatest runners of all time; a living legend at the Boston Outdoor Expo 2024

Photo shared by Ang Wills on social media after she received her copy: "I’m so excited to read this book written by my dear friend, @mary_mcmanusrunnergirl! Her journey is awe inspiring and she has a ❤️heart❤️ of a warrior. I highly recommend her book.

From post-polio syndrome to a marathoner.

She was at the height of her award-winning 25 year social work career when given this devastating diagnosis. It was not easy. She knew somehow and some way, whatever the circumstances, she’d make it through. And, boy, did she. As a social worker, she loves helping others. As the author of “A Most Unlikely Runner”, she is continuing to help others."

Ang Wills Book


Jared Ewing, a warrior in his own right, posted these pics on social media. Be sure to listen to his story on the On the Runs podcast Episode 88 by following this link.

Jared with books

jared's books