This is a cult book. It was a huge bestseller and it is easy to see why. It’s a book about running, but it is also a book about endurance and pushing yourself to see where your limits are, really. The author writes about trail running or ultra running, which basically means racing over really long distances like 100 miles at a go. It is a book about a whole bunch of incredible people.
It is primarily about the Tarahumara, a hidden tribe of Stone Age people who live up in the Sierra Madre in Mexico. They are also known as the raramuri or the running people. They regularly race up and down the canyons on rough or nonexistent trail for 48 hours at a stretch, simply because they like to run. The book also features some legends of ultra running like Anne Trason and Scott Jureck.
The author begins by wondering why he ends up getting injured every so often when all he does is run a few kilometres a day. He gets told time and again that human beings were not made for running, a theory that he refuses to accept. He slowly begins to discover that the fault may in fact lie with his shoes and the manner in which he runs. He explains how shoes and technology have turned running into a drudgery that it does not have to be.
Running can be fun and it is possible to run incredible distances without hurting or injuring yourself, wearing nothing more than a pair of old sneakers, or sandals made of tyres, which is what the Tarahumara use. It’s an astonishing premise and apparently, there is plenty of research to back it.
The book is engaging, but I couldn’t help thinking that it could have been written better. It is a book about real people and I felt that the author didn’t do justice to all of them. Also there are certain crucial points in the story where it loses steam.
But that said, it is a good book and I would certainly recommend it.