Book review: Born to Run The Hidden Tribe, the Ultra-Runners, and the Greatest Race the World Has Ever Seen by Christopher McDougall


There are a few books which have blown me. The Road was one. Orwell’s 1984 was another and for some reason Z for Zachariah was the soundtrack to my early reading days at school. I am a sucker for post-apocalypic fiction it would seem. But I am not much of a reader of real-life books, be they bios or event driven ones. That was until Mrs. Stewart bought me this.

I had always loved running but the pressure of life and work meant that I had fallen away from it until September last year when I got back on the proverbial horse. In April 2012 I unwrapped a birthday gift from Louise which was this book.

And I put aside as it was a real-life book about running. Then, needing a book for a train journey I was going I grabbed this. Yowser!

This book is story of why we run, the people who adhere to the principles of our early ancestors and some mad bastards who love running really long distances.

McDougall weaves together his own journey with Caballo Blanco’s. He adds in a bit of ultra-running royalty like Scott Jurek and Ann Trason as well as really banging the case for barefoot running with the incorrigible but loveable Ted leading the way.

The way McDougall tells us of the race, still going and growing, that Blanco wanted to make happen in Mexico with the Tarahumara is absolutely compelling. But it is the inspiration beyond the words which hit me. I became addicted to the story; the effect it was having on me was to make me realise that my own running had been limited by my own perceptions.

I could go into real detail about the make-up of the book’s characters, all wild and varied, or the story of the many races which intertwine to bring to life the legend of the Tarahumara and Blanco. As well as the legend of running itself. I won’t.

I’ll tell you this by way of endorsement. I have set new PBs in 2012 at every distance from 5k to marathon partly down to the inspiration that this books brings. But, wholly to the inspiration this book brings I am now venturing into the world of the ultra-marathon.

Born to Run will cause you to challenge your views, broaden your horizons and push yourself harder whilst all the while being a terrific read.

If you run at all you must own this book.

10/10

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