A new book has being doing the rounds at my work, everyone is talking about it, it’s hot on all my colleagues lips and everyone seems desperate to read it. What am I talking about? The much coveted Fifty Shades Of Grey? Thankfully not!
The book I am in fact talking about is Born To Run and it’s actually rather good. A factual story told by and based upon the experiences of journalist Christopher McDougall as he goes in search of both ancient and new secrets into the art of running. In this honest, personal and often entertaining story Chris takes us with him on his journey. After many running related injuries and a string of recommendations to hang up his shoes, McDougall decides to look outside modern science for the answers into becoming a successful runner.
His mission takes him many, many miles from home and deep into the Mexican Copper Canyons in search of the elusive and mysterious Tarahumara, a tribe of people as famous for their incredible running capabilities as for being one of the most isolated and unattainable tribes of people in history. Along the way he meets the equally mysterious and notorious Caballo Blanco and a whole string of elite ultra runners each as eccentric as the other.
What unfolds is a whirlwind story, from the fascinating and unforgettable Caballo Blanco to the detailed portrayal of the Tarahumara. McDougall produces a rich, lively and tangible image of his extraordinary journey. You can be forgiven for thinking like I did that this is surely just a story about running? How interesting could that be? But you really don’t need to be sprinting miles and miles each day just to empathise with this story.
Despite my initial hesitations I soon became absorbed in Born To Run and from the first page the Tarahumara had me intrigued. There’s something compelling and attractive about a novel which offers us such a rare glimpse into a culture that otherwise very little is known about. The Tarahumara aren’t just runners, running is their life and McDougall’s understanding of that teamed with his discoveries and the story he has to tell make for a brilliant read.
My only issue with this book was the occasional and often tiring dips into technical and overly emphasised detail. Page by page accounts of the dynamics of a pair of Nike running shoes tended to leave me feeling slightly lacklustre. Off course I can appreciate that many other readers probably not only enjoyed these sections but lapped them up. And so I patiently persevered. My patience always paid off though and it wouldn’t be long before the story dragged me back into the complicated and often emotional world of running.
I particularly enjoyed the ending of this story and the poignant message it left me with. interestingly I finished this book a good few weeks ago and yet it’s still lingering in my head. Perhaps because I know the people of the story really exist? Or maybe because I know the events of the novel actually took place? Either way this is a spectacular novel and not one I’m likely forget.
I was also pleased to note that everyone who read this novel in my office loved it. From the geeky readers like me, to the sports lovers and most satisfying those who don’t usually like reading; they’ve all fallen for this story. Surely that’s the sign of a truly great book?