I find the novel both completely outdated and yet in many ways current. Chiefly, it deals with the romantic relationship between 40 year old coach Harlan Brown and his Olympic-quality distance runner, Billy Sive. Even today that is provocative and to me, frankly, yuck. They also get "married" - still today, provocative. Today we still see massive homophobia in the sports world, even though it's no longer, as portrayed in the book, getting fired or facing threats, boycotts, and violence.
The Front Runner is dated in its portrayal of homosexuality - in Harlan Brown's repeated insistence on their masculinity, in his outright distaste for women (strange, as he was written by a woman), and often the sexual passages "they soaped each other's genitals" were cringe-worthy. And the talk of how good a dancer Billy was, gyrating his hips and wooing the "foxes" with his moves, to me rang false as having known hundreds of distance runners - not one of them can dance!
But the ultimate stamp of antiquity is its climax. An out gay male athlete can win the 5,000 meter in the Montreal Olympics in a world-record time, but (*SPOILER ALERT*) as he pulls away in the 10,000 meter - also at world record pace - he crashes to the ground in the final sprint, shot dead in the head in what we'd now term a hate crime.
In classic literature and film, the gay man must always DIE. I'm not saying the ending wasn't emotionally affecting, that its truth didn't blow open the minds of those who read it upon its release, or that it doesn't deserve the praise it gets from all those whose lives it changed. That's it's value in context, and for that value alone The Front Runner remains a winner.