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Book Review - Born to Run
by Christopher McDougall

Born to Run is a best seller and came highly recommended. I was excited about the book's premise, expecting to learn the secrets of those who don't crash at 26.2. The book's byline refers to the "Greatest Race the World has Never Seen" - however, by the time we reach this "greatest race", the author has already spoken about a few that seem as great.

Christopher McDougall is a contributor to Men's Health and some of the material here has been pulled together from articles he has written over the years. The book begins with his search for a cure to the pain he started experiencing in his foot while running. After the best sports doctors had examined and given him the same advice ("give up running"), Mr McDougall discovered the lost tribe of the Tarahumara. It is clear the Tarahumara are a secretive tribe of free living, peace loving, superathletes who want nothing to do with the world and Mr. McDougall idolizes them. The author has a lot of stories to share and running long distances seems to attract funny, interesting and inspiring characters. The author does a great job of narrating these stories. There were times while reading the book when I wanted to set the book aside, pick up my running shoes (ahem, not ready to run barefoot yet) and go run. The book presents a passionate argument of the idea that all of us were made to run. Heck,the author seems to believe the ability to run long distances is a distinguishing characteristic of the human species, almost as critical to our success on the planet as the opposable thumb.

Even though I enjoyed many of the stories in the book, it is what the author leaves out that is most disappointing. The book reads and feels like a collection of chronologically arranged magazine articles and not as a consistent whole. There is no clear theme - is it the Tarahumara? Is it ultra marathon running? Is it the runners? Or is it the story of McDougall's journey from being advised to give up running to finishing the 'greatest race'? We get glimpses of each of those books in this relatively short volume (280 pages). Read it but keep your expectations in check.

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