I bought Maria Coffey's "Explorers of the Infinite" a few days ago and ate it whole. This book is fascinating since it is about the endurance athlete- a group I count myself among- and what drives us. I've been privleged enough to participate in about 250 triathlons, the Marathon des Sables (154 mile desert running race),the Eco-Challenge and the Raid Gauloises and the Jordan Desert Cup 105 mile running race as well as the Antarctic marathon. It is nice to read ideas about what makes a fellow like me "tick".
"Explorers of the Extreme" is perhaps one of the first really credible, readable and entertaining examinations of the endurance athlete's psyche, motives, mindset and even "spirituality". Coffey is apparently not an endurance athlete herself but treats our kind with loving adoration. If you are a marathon runner, triathlete, surfer, cyclist or other "extreme" or endurance sport athlete you'll appreciate the insights and feel some of the pages in Coffey's book become an interesting mirror. This is also a fantastic read for an athlete's spouse who may have questions about why a person would ever subject themselves to the rigors of preparation and participation in endurance/extreme/risk sports.
Coffey explores the extreme athlete mentality from mountaineering to ultra-running to the Tour de France and even more amazing feats like free diving and extreme skydiving. It is refreshing to read a respectful treatment of our sub-species, the endruance/extreme athlete. Other books I've read on the motives and inner realm of us freaks treat us with a sort of detached disdain and label our motives as self-destructive and self grandizing. Coffey sees other inspirations as told to her by the people in the sports themselves.
There is also a readable and engaging thread throughout the book of the sociological theories behind risk and endurance sports, a particularly fascinating one pertaining to surfing.
This book is a delight and makes you feel good about being an endurance athlete, a rare breed, a risk taker. It is interesting to read about the ideas that may shape our motives. Highly recommended- great read. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.