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Born to Run: The Hidden Tribe, the Ultra-Runners, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen [Paperback]

Christopher McDougall
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (405 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

15 April 2010

At the heart of Born to Run lies a mysterious tribe of Mexican Indians, the Tarahumara, who live quietly in canyons and are reputed to be the best distance runners in the world; in 1993, one of them, aged 57, came first in a prestigious 100-mile race wearing a toga and sandals. A small group of the world's top ultra-runners (and the awe-inspiring author) make the treacherous journey into the canyons to try to learn the tribe's secrets and then take them on over a course 50 miles long.

With incredible energy and smart observation, McDougall tells this story while asking what the secrets are to being an incredible runner. Travelling to labs at Harvard, Nike, and elsewhere, he comes across an incredible cast of characters, including the woman who recently broke the world record for 100 miles and for her encore ran a 2:50 marathon in a bikini, pausing to down a beer at the 20 mile mark.


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Born to Run: The Hidden Tribe, the Ultra-Runners, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen + Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness + Running with the Kenyans: Discovering the secrets of the fastest people on earth
Price For All Three: 18.87

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Profile Books (15 April 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1861978774
  • ISBN-13: 978-1861978776
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (405 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 325 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Christopher McDougall is a former war correspondent for the Associated Press and is now a contributing editor for Men's Health. A three-time National Magazine Award finalist, he has written for Esquire, The New York Times Magazine, Outside, Men's Journal, and New York. He does his own running among the Amish farms around his home in rural Pennsylvania.

Product Description

Review

`Christopher McDougall is talking evolution and preaching a revolution... His book is already a sensation...a rollicking tale well told'
--The Times

`A sensation... a rollicking tale well told.' --Rick Broadbent, The Times

`If you're a runner, you probably won't reach the end of the first chapter without bolting out for a run.' --Leeds Guide

`Fascinating stuff, particularly for anyone who's ever been frustrated by the apparently shoddy mechanics of their own running body.' --Victoria Moore, Daily Mail

`Part how-to manual, part scientific treatise... ripping yarn that will inspire everyone who reads it to think on their feet.' --Simon Redfern, Independent on Sunday

`Good books about running are rare, but this ranks among the strongest.' --Sunday Business Post

`If you're a runner, you'll love it. It's about how far we can go spiritually and physically.' -- Actress Kate Hudson in Elle

`Inspiring stuff' --Elle

Review

"Hugely entertaining...one of the most joyful and engaging books about running to appear for many years." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
231 of 236 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great story, and much more 16 May 2009
By T. Sull
Format:Hardcover
Born to Run succeeds at three levels. First, it is a page turner. The build up to a fifty-mile foot race over some of the world's least hospitable terrain drives the narrative forward. Along the way McDougall introduces a cast of characters worthy of Dickens, including an almost superhuman ultramarathoner, Jenn and the Bonehead--a couple who down bottles of booze to warm up for a race, Barefoot Ted, Mexican drug dealers, a ghostly ex-boxer, a heartbroken father, and of course the Tarahumara, arguably the greatest runners in the world.

Born to Run is such a rip-roaring yarn, that it is easy to miss the book's deeper achievements. At a second level, McDougall introduces and explores a powerful thesis--that human beings are literally born to run. Recreational running did not begin with the 1966 publication of "Jogging" by the co-founder of Nike. Instead, McDougall argues, running is at the heart of what it means to be human. In the course of elaborating his thesis, McDougall answers some big questions: Why did our ancestors outlive the stronger, smarter Neanderthals? Why do expensive running shoes increase the odds of injury? The author's modesty keeps him from trumpeting the novelty and importance of this thesis, but it merits attention.

Finally, Born to Run presents a philosophy of exercise. The ethos that pervades recreational and competitive running--"no pain, no gain," is fundamentally flawed, McDougall argues. The essence of running should not be grim determination, but sheer joy. Many of the conventions of modern running--the thick-soled shoes, mechanical treadmills, take no prisoners competition, and heads-down powering through pain dull our appreciation of what running can be--a sociable activity, more game than chore, that can lead to adventure. McDougall's narrative moves the book forward, his thesis provides a solid intellectual support, but this philosophy of joy animates Born to Run. I hope this book finds the wide audience it deserves
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64 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not just for ultra-runners and super-athletes... 24 May 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The title of this book suggests it is a tale about ultra-distance runners and tales of heroic enterprise. That is partially true, but not the entire truth, and that is why this book deserves a wide audience.

Under the tale of a 50 mile race through inhospitable terrain is a theme that running is fun, and that humans are uniquely adapted to running to such a degree that it is suggested that the trappings of civilisation have denied us our essential nature.

Using the story of a mystery runner in the canyons of Mexico as a thread, we are lead through a discussion of the mental and physical aspects of running, with a look at how tribes untouched by "civilisation" around the world demonstrate McDougall's thesis.

McDougall presents a convincing argument that biologically and mentally we are designed to be distance runners. He argues that it is external issues - the selling of running shoes, the limitations we put on ourselves and that society attempts to impose - that prove to be the limiting factor for many of us. If anything, the characters presented become not super-athletes (as some authors have portrayed ultra runners) but actually very ordinary people who have chosen to ignore the preconceptions about what we "ought" to be able to do.

Yes, the book does give a lot of insight into ultra running - but it also has as a lot in it for anyone who runs, be you someone who runs for pleasure and excercise, or a keen competitive athlete. Highly recommended.
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171 of 189 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Fictionalised and often disingenuous account 31 Jan 2011
By Gerund
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I realise I'm in minority here but I really didn't enjoy this book at all. As a result of all the rave reviews I bought a copy for both myself and a friend - we were both hugely disappointed.

The author, Christopher McDougall, is an American magazine correspondent and this perhaps goes someway to explain a lot of what I didn't like about the book. To begin with, it is written in a totally 'omniscient' manner, ie McDougall can see inside everyone's head. This is excessive, continuous, and extends right across the board from events to which he was privy, through events to which he was not, on to imagined `eureka moments' of various research scientists. In a similar manner, he describes events from the past, where he wasn't present, in a way he clearly feels will paint some sort of picture: eg "Then she wiped her greasy mouth on her sports bra, burped up some Dew, and bounded off". Maybe she did wipe her mouth on her sports bra, but I doubt it, and I feel quite sure she never gave him an account, years later, of her burp.

In a similar vein I confess that I didn't like the continuous use of words like `chomp' instead of `eat' and `chug' instead of `drink'. I imagine that is just a difference in usage when comparing opposite sides of the Atlantic but I did find myself wishing someone would just 'eat' something! And I do wonder if the use of block capitals as well as italics was really necessary. I am not talking about the start of each chapter but sentences like:
"...I remember thinking What in the HELL? How in the HELL is this possible? That was the first thing, the first CHINK IN THE WALL, that MAYYYBEE modern shoe companies don't have all the answers..." (nine of those lowercase words are in italics, which I can't format here).
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
"If you have run with footmen and they have tired you out,
Then how can you compete with horses?" -- Jeremiah 12:5

Born to Run is an exceptional book -- intriguing, surprising, and continually compelling. The writing exceeds what most of the best fiction thriller and suspense writers ever achieve. Run, don't walk, to get your copy!

From little things, large things sometimes emerge. Author Christopher McDougall couldn't find out why his feet hurt after running. His search for the answer took him way beyond the doctor's office and the usual cortisone shots into a world of people who run for days at a time in dangerous conditions without injury. I won't spoil the story by telling you what he learned, but he's a master storyteller who will keep you spellbound by his stories about running, runners, and those who train and "help" them.

I didn't know what to expect when I started this book, but I was satisfied more then ten times over with what I received. I had been an avid runner as a teenager but hadn't done much in a long time due to shin splints. Recently, I discovered that soft ground and spongy tracks allowed me to run again without shin-splint pain. I was quite surprised to see that after over 40 years without running I was running as well or better than I ever had. What was that all about? This book contained the answer . . . one that may surprise you.

If you love great stories about the indomitable spirit that lives in some people, enjoy dreaming about doing the seemingly impossible, or just want to be thrilled by mind-blowing accomplishment, this book is for you. If speculating about anthropology and evolution fascinate you, you have a treat here as well.

And don't be surprised if you develop an urge to run . . . without stopping.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars This book reminds me how joyful it is to run when I'm hesitating over...
A wonderful book dispelling so many long held myths about running, told in a thrilling way that would excite a front-runner just as much. Read more
Published 2 days ago by Lucy Jeczalik
5.0 out of 5 stars A very special read
If you have not read this yet, do it, it will change the way you think about running whilst entertaining the whole way through.
Published 4 days ago by Gg
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant read
cult read amongst runners apparently, in fact, it was my first running book, if it hadn't have been, I might not have run two marathons in the last 12 mths that's how much it... Read more
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating read
An interesting and knowledgeable exposition on why we run, and why we SHOULD run. A fantastic read for anyone interested in running.
Published 5 days ago by RUTH WHITESIDE
5.0 out of 5 stars Why you should run book par-excellence
If you never ran this book would inspire you to. Written by a journalist, it reads like a thriller, with some of the associated hype. Read more
Published 8 days ago by Geoffrey Stacey
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read
A clever way of discussing a potentially dry subject. However, the style is very "American" and can get rather tedious in its laboring of point and inconcise style at the... Read more
Published 10 days ago by Sais yng Nghymru
5.0 out of 5 stars A thoroughly inspiring read.
From the idea of running being in our genes, through the embodiment of the Tarahumara people. This book educates us on more than one level. Couldn't put it down.
Published 18 days ago by DevilHands
5.0 out of 5 stars A good deal pricewise.
Son crazy about sport in general. Loves Marathon and Triathlons. This book a perfect gift for him. Recommended by a friend.
Published 18 days ago by 2RPH
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Book - truly inspiring
I'd recommend this even if you aren't a runner. It's a fascinating look at long distance running from hunters who used to run their prey to death to modern long distance runners... Read more
Published 19 days ago by Ed Marno
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down
Great read and very interesting mix of facts as well as modern day legend, even for non runners. Would recommend this.
Published 20 days ago by C. K. Marland
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