I hesitate slightly to review this book because my running record does not extend to attempting to run the 152 mile Spartathlon. I have, however, run twenty marathons, and two ultra-marathons, the last being the 80 mile World Trailrunning Championship on the South Downs, so I have a very good idea of the obsessive training that is required. I also understand the curiously mystical aspect of preparing yourself to run the equivalent distance in my case from London to Brighton and then a further thirty miles. This obsessive and introverted behaviour is admirably described by Robin Harvie in the preparation for his mighty effort to run from Athens to Corinth. My run took eighteen hours. His time target for the Spartathlon was thirty-six hours.
My one complaint is that there's a lot of padding in the book. I found the extraordinary amount of quotes from non-runners, including Max Beerbohm and Jean-Jacques Rousseau for example, very hard work.
That said, if you are considering moving up from marathon running, this book will definitely be very helpful. I wish it had been available in 1997 when I was an ultrarunner. It would have have warned me what to expect.
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