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4.5 out of 5 stars
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4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 30 December 2016
Quite enjoyed this book probably more so than the more popular Born to Run. Finn is relatable having a running history like many club runners and his story humble and inspiring. Provides a good and interesting history of the culture of Kenyan running and an insight into how things at the front of a western race aren't quite as rosey as it may appear to us mortals. I didn't find many tangible takeaways about what makes them notoriously great runners beyond they work hard but an enjoyable read that should be on all runners bookshelf.
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on 13 April 2017
Decent travelogue, and good on life and running culture in rural Kenya, but smacked a little to me of cultural tourism. The author is a slightly hippy-ish freelance Guardian journalist, who went out with his wife and children to Iten for months - for what? Just to write this book, and smash his PBs once he got back to the UK and US? At times there was too much about him, and with respect, he is not that interesting. He's a moderate club runner who got to train with Olympic and world class athletes. It's not entirely clear what they got out of it, other than being in this book.

Still worth a read for the Kenyan angle, even though much of this material is now quite familiar (ugali, barefoot running, Brother Colm, the Kalenjin etc.)
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on 11 September 2012
I bought this via Kindle's daily special and I would have happily paid full price for it.

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.
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on 15 May 2013
I wasn't sure about this book before I started it, as I am about as far from being a runner as it is possible to be!
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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on 15 April 2017
loved it
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on 2 September 2013
I must admit I did struggle with this book.. theres a hell of a lot of running in it!! Yes I know its about running but I did think that as the author was lucky enough to actually live in Kenya for such a while that we would have been given a more descriptive account of his running sessions ? I did finish the book but feel it would be enjoyed more by someone who has an interest in running .
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on 5 April 2017
Really enjoyed this book, felt as if I was there with Finn in Kenya. Obvious what the secret is really. Want to know? You'd better start reading.
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on 12 May 2017
Natural follow on from Born to Run. Great book
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on 30 March 2015
A must for any endurance runner which unlocks the simplicity of running fast without the need for modern day technology or training plans
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on 17 May 2012
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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