I remember reading Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken in 2011 and thinking, “This can’t be true, there is no way that this collection of events, characters, and history all coincided.” Two years later no one has amended the story and it stands in a fortress of time, those events never to be repeated. I’ve finally read a book as good as Unbroken.*
Born to Run is about the rise of ultra marathon runners and a secret tribe of people in the Mexican desert who may know more about running than any of them.
The collection of runners that author Christopher McDougall finds are more varied than any reality show casting. There’s Scott Jurek the best American distance runner, winning a mountainous one hundred mile run through the western states seven straight times. There’s barefoot Ted, a man who identifies his spirit animal as, the monkey to a group of Tarahumara, a native American people of northwestern Mexico who seem to have mastered long distance running. There are even more characters like Bone Head Billy and the wonderfully mysterious Caballo Blanco.
The book balances stories and science like a runner moving from one foot to the next. Detailed examination of how animals run to anecdotes about runners listening to beat poetry on their Walkmans. The narrative culminates in a final few chapters that left me laughing out loud and smiling as they drew to a close.
For this reading I actually listened to the audio book which was masterfully done. It’s read by Fred Sanders and the range of voices he used for the characters were as varied as I imagined their personalities. My only regret is that I don’t have pages of great quotes.
Born to Run, is about people and a journey, and you don’t need to be a runner to appreciate those, just a reader.
*This summer I’ve been running the most I have in my entire life and felt a spiritual connection to this book.