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Running with the Kenyans: Discovering the secrets of the fastest people on earth Paperback – 4 Apr 2013

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (4 April 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571274064
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571274062
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (160 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,641 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'I've seldom read a better account of the exhilaration of running...what gives Running With the Kenyans its special appeal is Finn's charm ... He's unusually engaging company both on and off the track.' Evening Standard

'A revealing study of the African nationa's long-distance supremacy.' Daily Telegraph Sports Books of the Year

'What sets Finn's book apart is that in trying to 'discover the secrets of the fastest people on earth' he realises something far greater - that there's no 'elixir' but the hunger to succeed.' Metro Books of the Year

'An engaging memoir...The book is populated with engagingly drawn characters and towards the end, Finn's quest - the burning need to attain a certain marathon time - is gripping.' Daily Telegraph

A hugely inspiring story of what is possible when we dare to try.' --Ruth Field, author of Run Fat Bitch Run

'If Chris McDougall's Born to Run taught us what to wear (or not to wear) when running, Finn's fascinating Running With The Kenyans teaches us how to run, and should be required reading for anyone planning their first fun run or marathon. In the tradition of the best sports writing he embedded himself fully in his subject and reveals, for the first time, just how close we are to the holy grail of the sub two-hour marathon.' --Robin Harvie, author of Why We Run

'[This] beautifully crafted account of an expedition of discovery to Kenya defies categorisation ... The adventure is captivating.' --Nick Pitt, The Sunday Times Books of the Year

'In unobtrusively beautiful prose, [Finn] evokes the will to run at the heart of Kenyan life.' --Sunday Telegraph

'[Finn's] unfussy, evocative prose makes it an engaging odyssey.' --Sunday Telegraph

Book Description

Running with the Kenyans: Discovering the secrets of the fastest people on earth by Adharanand Finn is an epic personal quest to discover the remarkable secrets of the world's greatest runners.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By HazBeen on 17 May 2012
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Long distance-running was pretty low down on the list of sports I'm interested in (I'm a very occasional jogger) but I found this book compelling. The things that make it what it is are the author's engaging style coupled with his open-mindedness and refusal to rush to easy stereotypes about the reasons for the phenomenal success of Kenyans in long-distance running. It's much more than a book about long-distance running - it's also part travel book and part personal journey. It is the interweaving of these three themes that kept my interest so that by the end I was willing Finn on as he runs a gruelling marathon in Kenya. He meets a number of characters, ranging from running greats to those striving to become elite runners, and describes them, idiosyncrasies and all, in such a way that I felt that I knew them. Finn often lends dry humour to observations of the characters and cultural differences he encounters but never lacks respect. He is open-minded without glossing over the aspects of his time in Kenya that he found unconventional or challenging. Running with the Kenyans had me so enthralled it made me want to go out running barefoot in the local park and to visit Kenya ...although whether I will do either remains to be seen!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Ben on 3 May 2012
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Sports books of this quality are rare, running ones even rarer. This is Born to Run but better written, and with better runners (I'm sure the Tarahumara are lovely, but ... come on). Finn's personal quest to recapture his youthful talent is gripping, and along the way he meets all the important figures in Kenyan running, and makes a measured examination of what makes them so good, calmly cutting through the bs that often clouds the debate. His life in Iten and the stories of the runners he befriends are fascinating, but what sets the book even further ahead of the rest is the side story of how his partner and young family deal with being uprooted from Devon to Iten. Running for Kenyans will delight running fans, but this is a book anyone can enjoy. Fascinating.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By S. Freeman on 4 April 2012
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After reading the articles that Adharanand wrote in the Guardian whilst he was out in Kenya, I was extremely excited to have an opportunity to read the book. It did not disappoint - at time funny, moving, instructional and inspiring, I think that in the end Finn manages to answer the question that runs throughout the book - what is it that makes Kenya such an endurance running hot spot. I won't ruin the book for readers, but the answer is both simple and deeply complex... and well worth reading the book for. My extended review is at [...]
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Brod Purdy on 30 Jan. 2013
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As one who 'ran with the Kenyans' in the early 60's, I found this book fascinating and a superb read. Those with whom I spent months training at altitude (West Pokot) were from a number of tribes attending the local government school (Chewoyet School, Kapenguria), but the fastest were the Kipsigis who ran, even then, with head thrown back - and barefooted. A technique I followed when running later in life as a cadet in the RAF, but not to such success as 'Finn'.
Well recommended for any runner - past, present or future.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Tom Doyle on 7 Jan. 2013
Format: Paperback
Anyone who's into running will love this good-humoured and well written book. Finn's journey with his wife and three children in tow to the small town of Iten, where he becomes absorbed in the extraordinary world of Kenyan middle and long distance running, is captivating. As he tries to hone his running style by learning the secrets of Kenyan running success (at least trying to learn), he charmingly describes life in a remote and alien culture. There are so many excellent runners in Iten that on one occasion he dials a wrong number and finds himself randomly speaking to someone who happens to have completed a marathon in just over 2hrs (almost everyone seems to be an amazing athlete).

The friendliness of the people he meets shines through as does his genuine love of running; developed as a child in Northampton, when he realised one day that he had some talent. The goal of a marathon in Lewa at high altitude carries you along. It's a gripping and (appropriately speedy) read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dolphin on 29 April 2012
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I loved this book. A really good mix of travelogue, "run-a-logue" and interesting description and thoughts about what makes Kenyans tick and why they are so good. A fascinating description of life and training in Iten, and also an enlightening view of how running means something completely different for Kenyans, and for "Western" leisure runners and, to some extent, also athletes. A balanced view of current "in-aspects" of running, such as barefoot running, and of the (overanalysing?) Western mind - and how each of these fit into the different lifestyles and cultures. And running through this the author's own experience of running with the Kenyan's, during which he never takes himself too seriously, and also of his family, who moved out to Kenya with them and also experienced being a "mzungu" first hand. Highly recommended - particularly for running enthusiasts, but also for fans of travelwriting.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Wee Col on 17 Dec. 2012
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i ficked this book up in the summer as ive always been interested in kenyan runners and distance runners in general. I wasnt sure how the book was going to pan out so it was shelved along with my list of other books, however the wife and myself had a holiday booked for portugal and i thought what better chance to read this than with the sun on my face and a nice cool beer in my hand away from all the worries and running inflicted injury problems back at home. i have to say as soon as i opened the cover i hardly put it down until it was over...i was looking for time to read this book as each chapter went on and the story deepened i felt like i was actually there and part of the writers journey, it was informative & humerous and just a great book that anyone who has ever had an interest in running should pick up and read
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