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

4.5 out of 5 stars 188 customer reviews

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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: 12.8 x 2 x 20 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (188 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 10,909 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

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

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A book that shares a spirit with 'Born To Run', this is follows the author as he uproots his wife and three small children from the UK and settles them for six months in a Kenyan village. He's gone in search of the secrets of the Kenyan running story, why this tiny percentage of the world's running population has consistently won most of the major distance running prizes in the last thirty years. There must be a secret, buried somewhere in their genes or lifestyle, and he wants to find out what it is.

The answers are simple, and either disappointing or reassuring depending on how you look at it, but the book succeeds not on that basis, but as a travelogue and personal adventure. As he trains, immersing himself in the running life of Kenya's athletes (who run, mostly, because it's the only escape they can envisage from poverty - a level of motivation and necessity we don't have in the West) he sets his eye on putting together a team for the Lewa marathon - where apart from the usual running hazards, there are lions to contend with - and it is this personal mission that gives the book guts. Runners should love this book, as it puts you back in touch with some of the thrill of the sport that you can lose track of in the weekly grind of training. It's also a book that will entertain those seeking some vicarious travel and adventure, more authentically told than the sometimes hyperbolic "Born To Run" and just as inspiring.
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Format: Paperback
If you had the opportunity to take 6 months off of work to be able to head to Iten, Kenya to train and learn about the workings of the Kenyan runners, would you? Most of us would jump at it, and this is precisely what author Adharanand Finn did. Luckily, he documented this travels and learnings in his new book, "Running with the Kenyans." Finn is an assistant production editor for the British national daily newspaper, The Guardian and was given this special opportunity; one he took full advantage of and delivered an excellent read for fans of distance running worldwide.

Finn's book is filled in fact that while very fascinating, is also is filled with unearthed and often times, sad truths that tell of the not so wonderful tale of the magical Kenyans. Finn finds a friend in Toby Tanser (of the excellent book, "More Fire: How to Run the Kenyan Way") who quickly answers the question of why do Kenyan children run to school. "Are they hoping to become athletes?" asks Finn. "No, they're running because if they're late, they get caned." He also digs into the "age old" question of why many Kenyans official ages are less than their real age. "Each person has a different story, although it usually involves someone else, such as a manager, getting the date wrong at some point." That's one thing that is very evident. The managers are the ones in control of the Kenyan runners, as they operate the running camps, that are essentially tryouts to earn chances to compete internationally. Some run in the camps for years and never make more than a few hundred dollars, relying on the kindness and hospitality of family to help them along.
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