This is a look into some books that are running related.  The relationship may seem like a stretch at times, but it is there.  That may include tapping into the psyche of running and not just the obvious physical aspect.  But, as most serious runners know, our running is affected in one way or another by everything we perceive.  Reading helps us to broaden that perception.

BOOK:  Born to Run, A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen

AUTHOR: Christopher McDougall

PUBLISHER: Alfred A. Knopf, 2009  

          Born to Run is an incredible book.  It doesn’t matter if you are a serious runner or a couch potato.  It doesn’t matter if you like mysteries or adventure.  It doesn’t matter if you as a runner are interested in training or injury prevention or running for fun or fitness.

        This book encompasses all the above and more.  It is one of my favorite books.  I’m an avid reader who reads a lot of different genres.  I like fiction and non-fiction.  I read a lot on running.  I read classics.  I read mysteries.  I read adventure.  I read westerns.  I read philosophy and religion.  I read science.  I read geography.  I read travel. I read biography.  I read history.  I read sports.

          Some of my favorite books are The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand; To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee; Education of a Wandering Man by Louis L’Amour; The Spirit of St. Louis by Charles A. Lindbergh; Once A Runner by John L. Parker Jr.; Bunion Derby by Charles B. Kastner, and others.  Now, added to that list is Born to RunIt fits nicely into the list ranking very high.

          The book takes us from Colorado to Mexico and some other related sites along the way.  We meet interesting characters.  The characters are so varied that we can see ourselves in there somewhere.  The great thing is that the characters are real, but as we read the book, we would swear that these characters are made-up for the story.

           Therein lays the allure.  Born to Run reads like a novel, one that is both a mystery and adventure story.  It is biographical, historical, and scientific.  The characters engage us.  We want to read the next page to see what happens to them.  It is the story of the land, people, philosophy, and running.  For what more could you ask?

            The author, Christopher McDougall, is a runner himself, so he writes with a sincere interest.  That interest is made evident in the beginning of the book.  In his search for answers on some running problems, he finds out that a lot of conventional wisdom is misplaced.  Through his search, he learns.  We learn along with him.

          The mysterious Caballo Blanco is the catalyst that takes us into the Copper Canyon region of Mexico.  That is where the Tarahumara Indians live and run.  The Tarahumaras are linked with an elite ultrarunner, surfers, and barefoot running.  The story leads to the epochal point of a race in its truest form.

          The race is not one of the glitzy, corporate sponsored events we are familiar with in this country.  It is almost a “secret” event.  You will remember the race and the setting long after you read the account.  You will identify with the runners in the race.  McDougall paints a startling picture in which our mind will be engaged with the vision, smell, and heart-pounding feeling of the sites both there and here.

          The book would go on your bookshelf with the books on ultrarunning.  But, it is so much more.  Delving into lifestyles, it gives the reader a glimpse into differing philosophies.  This ranges from the “why” of running to the importance of life.

          Telling you too much about the specifics of the book and the story would give too much away.  It is better to explore the story like one would explore a new running route.  After starting the book, the runner will want to run more because of learning what can be done and what the human potential can be.

          Read Born to Run, and you will become a better runner.  You will share experiences you never thought possible.  You will understand Kuira-ba…We are all one.

 Richard Westbrook

                                                “The best runner leaves no tracks.”

                                                                                      Tao Te Ching

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