The high school has no track team, no track coach, no running track.
But Jeremiah James—JJ—is driven to run, impelled by a recurring dream of a Cherokee runner a century before. When the loneliness bears down on him, he draws on the memory of an energy that comes to him in rare moments, unsuspectingly.
When he's not running, JJ is a regular kid, the grandson of a long-since-killed gunslinger in the coal-mining town of Harlan, Kentucky. He struggles with his attraction to a precocious girl as young as his little sister Sarah. As he tells his story, Sarah records hers in her diary.
Mischievous, curious about the past and the life beyond, JJ is at heart a distance runner, a miler who longs for the showdown. But a year into his running, JJ is drained by a harder crisis.
An unlikely coach offers to help him unlock the mystery and power of his life.
That's when he finds out how far he can run.