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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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'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
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.See all Product description
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As others have written the author goes to Kenya and lives and trains with some of the fastest runners on the planet, something all of us recreational runners would probably love to do. Though many of us would really struggle to keep up, even the slowest women that the author meets run 10k in about 35 mins.
It's an incredibly easy book to read. You can tell that the author writes for running magazines as the book really is just like reading one long and highly interesting article.
The book loses a star as it could be better in some areas. For a start, as another reviewer as mentioned we don't know how much the author is running neither in hours per week nor in miles/kms per week. We just know that he runs much more than he does back in the UK. Which is not difficult to do if you give up your day job.
Like many readers I'm not looking for exact numbers, but even if he had casually mentioned that he'd run 80 miles that week, or he'd upped his mileage to x miles a week it would have been helpful. Also we don't know how far or fast he runs. He mentions going out for a 60 or 90 minute run but we obviously don't know how many miles he runs or at what speed. One reason he doesn't state this is that he went to Kenya without any stopwatch or Garmin, which for a keen runner is just something that beggars belief. He spent months in Kenya, he could have easily have got either sent from the UK.
The book builds to a trail marathon at that end "where helicopters are used to scare away the lions" This is mentioned at least 3 times in a book that's about 300 pages. The first time you're surprised, the second time you are reminded and the third time it starts to become annoying. He is running in rural Kenya it is not the outskirts of Swindon. It really is not a huge surprise to the reader that there are wild lions roaming in Kenya.
Overall I highly recommend this book to runners of all abilities.
However, I needn't have worried, as it was fascinating. The author wanted to know - as does most of the world - what makes the Kenyans such great distance athletes, so he decides to go and live amongst them.
The book is written mainly from his own viewpoint; he wants to see if he can improve his own performance by training and living their way.
Ultimately, he does improve; he learns a lot about what they do, and how they do it, and what it is that motivates them. I won't spoil the conclusions, but safe to say there is no one 'secret' for him to discover.
Overall, a very readable book; part serious investigation, part travelogue.
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