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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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on 4 April 2012
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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on 28 May 2012
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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on 15 May 2012
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.

The most rewarding thing about Finn's 6 month journey to Kenya is his personal journey from 38 minute 10k runner to a very competent "mzungu (foreigner)," who is given incredible access to the who's who of the then and now of the storied Kenyan running scene. The people he met and ran with will any distance running fan's mind.

Read the blog that Finn kept while writing the book at the Guardian and be sure to follow him on Twitter. Finally, be sure to listen to his interview on the House of Run podcast.
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on 13 September 2012
I picked up this book and was captivated by it. I loved the whole concept of packing your bags and moving your whole family including 3 very young children to a part of the world most of us would last five minutes and immerse your whole family into a very simple life style to experience the life of a Kenyan runner! Total respect and admiration to Adharanands Wife and 3 children who lived the life and gave up a western lifestyle to support his project. This is not only a really interesting journey for Adharanand it is a very brave thing to do and I think Marietta his wife deserves massive credit for supporting this. There are thousands of people who say "I would love to be able to do that" and there are only a handful who actually take that leap of faith of actually do it. Its great to read about his journey to learn about the top kenyans and I love how he meets them, mingles with them and how accessible these extremely talented but very humble people are. I also enjoy the personal goal to run like the Kenyans and improve his own running times which is a great inspiration to all us casual runners who will be inspired by this.
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on 27 January 2013
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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on 7 June 2013
I had already read Born to Run by Christopher McDougall and was inspired by it. This book has a very different feel to it which is also inspiring. Finn is a gentle family man and takes us into his family life whilst living in Kenya where he is learning the secrets of the Kenyan runners. His dedication to running is obvious and his respect for the Kenyan runners shines out. He takes us through some painful and moving moments in his quest to run faster. I have grown up watching the African runners and marvelling at their talent. I will never watch them in the same way again thanks to Finn. I now know more about them as people and their lives in Kenya, their simple grandeur and I love them all. Thank you Finn keep on running. X
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on 11 May 2012
Running with the Kenyans is instantly addictive. It is a great read - personal without being too personal, and is very well written - it tells a vividly human tale without romanticising things. It's perfectly pitched for people who really enjoy running but aren't overly fanatical about it. Adharanand writes in such a way that you can easily picture yourself in his trainers.
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on 13 April 2012
I have just spent 80 British pounds on a pair of "barefoot" running shoes as a direct result of reading Adharanand Finn's Running With The Kenyans. The inspiration and energy the book has gendered had better last! That the story of Finn's quest to discover the secrets of the world's most formidable long-distance running nation has inspired this overtired working mum to get out there and pound the pavements is testament to the sincerity and palpable passion of Finn's writing. Running With The Kenyans is more than a thought-provoking running journal, though, as the narrative is laced with touching descriptions of the Family Finn's first forays into workaday living, Kenyan style. The tales of Finn's three small children and his patient, fun-loving wife who accompany him on his journey add a domestic and at times comedic turn to what is otherwise a rather serious preoccupation: How To Run Really Really Fast. For A Long Time. Running With The Kenyans appeals on several levels from a discussion on the mechanics of running, to a psychological and spiritual exploration of why we run at all, to a celebration of the African landscape and the idiosyncrasies of its people. A thoroughly engaging read for anyone interested in running, in the natural world, in family life and in what makes men and women push themselves to the very limits of human endurance.
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on 27 December 2015
I'm fairly new to running. I wanted some inspiration but at the same time a good story! I read this book in a 4-5days on holiday. I was completely immersed. Easy to read for all abilities. Great inspiration even for people like me who run 10minute miles. Has proved that anythings possible if your work hard enough for it!
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