BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

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

Born to RunIf, at the end of reading (or, as in my case, listening to Fred Sanders read addictively out loud) this book, you are not completely and utterly convinced that human beings were born to run, I want to hear about it for sure. If you’re not inspired to go out and move, move, move, I want to hear about that, too!

Part memoir, part adventure story, Born to Run is pure, adrenaline-pumping entertainment. Looking at endless cortisone shots to ease his runner’s pain, Christopher McDougall – a former war correspondent! – stumbles on the ghostly legend of a gringo living in Mexico’s deadly Copper Canyon who goes by the name of Caballo Blanco. He might be a killer or at the very least a fugitive. But one thing’s for sure. The man – or whoever/whatever he is – can run.

Caballo lives among Mexico’s near-invisible Tarahumaru tribe, known to be the fastest endurance runners in the world. 95-year-old Tarahumaru run effortlessly because no one ever told them they couldn’t! They’re a near utopian group of superathletes able to survive extreme physical conditions, who eat a virtually perfect diet (of chia seeds, pinole, and homegrown booze) that enables them to glide up and down mountains 20-30-40-plus miles at a time, living in harmony with each other and the land around them. Except, of course, when the outside world encroaches, dumping drugs and importing murder … but that’s a different story.

McDougall manages not only to track down the elusive Caballo … but fast forward two years, and he delivers some of the world’s greatest ultra athletes in history to the deadly Canyon to race the Tarahumaru in the greatest running showdown ever. From unbeatable ultramarathoner Scott Jurek, to garrulous Barefoot Ted, to adventure-sports expert Eric Orton, to two young crazy surfer kids Billy Barnett and Jenn Shelton, McDougall intricately weaves multiple strands of personal stories, ultramarathon history, evolution, game hunts, even Nike’s global mutilation of the modern foot into a book so exhilarating and downright fun, you won’t be able to put it down.

And the party fodder you’ll have to share about ice-filled caskets to cool Death Valley runners (where it gets so hot that runners try and stay on the white dividing road lines to keep their shoe-bottoms from melting instantly!), having toenails surgically removed because they just get in the way, losing 12 pounds in a single race, drinking the worst imaginable goat-poop filled sludge to stay alive … oh, the list goes on and on. Yup, it’s that good.

All four of us in our family have now read Born to Run in some way or another. My youngest (still a tween) is just gloating and glowing in his just-arrived Five Fingers … he’s more than willing to be the family guinea pig. We’re all signed up to take a workshop with none other than 70-marathons-without-an-injury Barefoot Ken Bob next month. And while I officially have a never-healed-still-broken foot, after discovering this book, I’m convinced that I’m on the verge of changing my life!

If Christopher McDougall can take his painful feet, bothersome back, and various other worn-out, OLDER parts and transform himself into a superathlete in nine months, survive the greatest race the world has never seen, AND – most importantly … go ahead, call me Pollyanna – become a better person along the way, why can’t I follow along, too? At the achy, breaky rate I’m whinge-ing into my temperamental mid-40s, I’m convinced maintenance will kill me before old age … it’s now or never …

Stay tuned.

Readers: Young Adult, Adult

Published: 2009



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