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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 191 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 (191 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 15,409 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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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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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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As a CrossFit Endurance training, high protein and low carb diet eating, marathon runner I probably should have put Adharanand Finn's "Running with the Kenyans" down before I ended the first chapter. Just pages in, this book went dead against everything my training regime stands for.

But it was enchanting. Page after page my attention was held. I've recommended this book to both runners and non runners since reading it. It's a chronicle of an amazing journey and teaches so much about commitment to a cause, mental struggles, physical hardships and believing you've got what it takes to do something.

When Finn leaves the UK for Kenya in search of just what makes the country's runners so good and an opportunity to better his own running techniques, we meet the most incredible cast of colourful characters. As the fist part of the book flits around his pre-departure time in the UK, we're soon living there with him in Iten, also trying to fathom out just what this Kenyan secret is.

Finn's new life builds with every chapter, as do the remarkable friendships he grows.

I could share so many spoilers but I refuse to. This really is a must read for yourself. It left me with so, so much to think about, drawing several parallels with Matthew Syed's "Bounce" that I read earlier this year.

I ran the London Marathon on April 22nd 2012 in 4:39:31. I read Finn's book before the Edinburgh Marathon on May 27th 2012 which I completed in 4:08:17. I say no more aside from you will never, ever look at the front of the pack in the same way again.
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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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