Saturday, May 16, 2009

"Born to Run" is a Must Read Book for Runners

If you are going to write a book and title it "Born to Run" it had better be good. You are up against "The Boss" and Springsteen has that title well covered! The good news is that author Christopher McDougall is more than up to the challenge. This is one of the most well written (except for spelling "triathlon" with and an extra "a" at one point "triathalon") and engaging running books that I have ever read. It hits the mark with a bulls eye and it is a book for all types of readers. It includes serious thinking about the science of running, the marketing of running shoes (and the lesson that these shoes "hurt" runners), diet, sport, and ultramarathon racing, and reads like a detective and mystery novel as you can't wait to find out what happens next as you read.

Here is author Chris McDougall talking about why we wrote "Born to Run" with Popular Science magazine (article here).

The book revolves around a question from the author, "Why do my feet hurt?" and he eventaully ends up in the Copper Canyons of Mexico where some of the most fascinating people, the Taramuhara Indians, on the earth live. As McDougall pursues the Taramuhara, he also pursues the latest in research to find out "Why we are made to run?" and how to do it more effectively and with a smile on our faces! The answers he finds may startle you and get you thinking that, "All you know may be wrong." It seems that these mysterious "running people" of the Copper Canyon, living in a desolate, remote, and unforgiving landscape, might just have the secrets we have been looking for.

In the book we meet an interesting cast of characters. Who knew the ultramarathon world was this fascinating? A mysterious loner named Caballo Blanco (the White Horse) sets up a race between some top ultramarathoners- including one of the best, Scott Jurak, in the Tarahumara's world of the Copper Canyon. Earlier in the book we read how a few Tarahumara runners topped the ultramarathon world at the Leadville 100 mile trail race, but were not treated well by a somewhat unsavory handler. The races and their descriptions are riveting and the science embedded throughout the book, will hopefully make readers rethink what they know about the sport of running.

I have read 100's of running books throughout the years, and although I have never put together a list of my favorite running books, I am certain that this book would earn a place somewhere in my top 5. I would highly recommend it to all runners, and I have the sneaky suspicion that this book will be a popular book with readers who are not even runners. It will become a classic book for its entertaining, informative, and well written and engaging story.

There are no pictures in this book. After reading it, I wanted to know and "see" more. I suggest you check out these pages if you desire to learn more, but read the book first! Let you mind imagine what you are reading about.

Caballo Blanco's website Copper Canyon with a Man Called Horse. There are pictures, links, race results, and more about the mysterious central figure in this book.

Scott Jureks website and also his blog. Scott is a 7 time winner of the Western States 100 mile race and other ultramarathons, including Badwater. Can Scott beat the legendary Tarahumara? Read the book.

Barefoot Ted's blog entry about the book and his blog. He races barefoot and in Vibram five-finger shoes.

Wonderful pictures taken by Luis Escobar of the 2006 Copper River race (the one in the book) are located here.

An article "The Men Who Love Forever" on the Tarahumara Indians written by Chris McDougall and printed in Men's Health magazine can be read here.


Anonymous said...

Good book, Good review, but it wasn't the Western States 100 it was the Leadville 100.

Peter Larson said...

Nice review - I also loved this book.

Jim Hansen said...

Thanks anonymous, I made the correction!
Hey, Peter, up in Concord. I like your blog and have to check out your website some more!

Matt Metzgar said...


Thanks for pointing out this book. I just got it and consumed it in 24 hours! It is a marvelous book.

elma said...

I'm half way through this book at the moment and am still reeling from all the stuff in Chapter 25 about how dreadful running shoes are for our feet. He writes like a cross between Bruce Chatwin and Simon Winchester - wonderful stuff indeed.

Jim Hansen said...

I don't know who those writers are, I'll have to look up the names. I think I am due to reread the book soon, once I get some free time!

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