Title: Born To Run
Author: Christopher McDougall
Number of Pages: 282
Plot Overview: On a mission to answer the question, “Why does my foot hurt?”, McDougall journeys from his backyard to the Copper Canyons of Mexico. He’s looking for the Tarahumara (Raramuri), a legendarily secretive, indigenous tribe of super-runners. Along the way, he makes literary visits to extreme locations like Leadville, Colorado, and Death Valley, California. His adventure also moves back in time, through the evolution of distance running.
What I enjoyed: There was so much about this book to love. Every plot line was clear and concise – there was no confusion at all to be had. The novel flowed smoothly and easily between the Tarahumaras’ story and McDougall’s own, both of which felt more like cleverly drawn fiction than nonfiction. Plus, some of the conclusions drawn, like the Running Man Theory (in essence, we survived and the Neanderthals were wiped out was because we could run down our prey) are, simply put, fascinating. All of these bits, on their own, could have made for a good story, but the author wove them together in such a way that they became greater than the sum of their parts.
What I disliked: Cue the cricket noise, because there really isn’t a lot to say here. If you aren’t a nutty ultramarathon runner or even someone who goes out and jogs every other day, then some of the subject matter covered in it may seem slightly tedious, like the intense discussion about running shoes. However, it’s okay, because this book will make you want to start getting out there and running.
Other Notes: Caballo Blanco, one of the main characters, recently passed away at the age of 58.
Other Reviews: Dan Zak, of the Washington Post, gives his opinions on McDougall’s work here.
Final Verdict: As a (shorter-distance) runner, I had so much fun reading this. Even if you aren’t a runner, you’ll still enjoy it for its impeccable storytelling.