Sunday, February 20, 2011

By Ink Alone: Born to Run

Born to Run:  A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World has Never Seen
Christopher McDougall

I'd heard a little about this book, and it kept coming up as a recommended book in my amazon queue. I kept thinking about downloading it to the Kindle, but then I was like, nahh, I have too much other crap to read.

Then, someone at work said they had a copy and weren't reading it, so I asked to borrow it. I finished it in two days. It is one of the best reads as I have every had. It has great writing, hilarious story-telling, and probably the most imporbable main themed story I could imagine.

I explain the gist of the book like this:  think of the best Onion story you'd ever read; one that is so ridiculous and over the top and plays silly stereotypes to the edge, and you are just waiting for the joke, the punch line, that sentence which makes you laugh. This book doesn't have that joke, it gets better. It is so ridiculous that at times you can't believe these people actually exist. You can't believe that you had never heard of them.

The story follows writer McDougall as he tries to investigate the Tarahumara Indians of Northern Mexico who hide away from the western world and who have not adopted any western cultures norms. However, they are among the healthiest people in the world, and they can run like nothing in the world. Running a marathon, or running down a rabbit is nothing to them. Its a brisk walk in the morning.

McDougall finally treks to Mexico and surviving canyons of death and drug lords, meets them. He also meets another American who years ago left the real world to learn how to run and live with the Tarahumara. Blanco Caballo (the white horse) has survived for years at the edge of the Tarahumara, not really a part of them, and also, probably crazy.

After McDougall finds the Indians, and meets Caballo, he writes up an article and forgets about it. Until Caballo tries to start a race of the great Ultramarathon runners (100 miles or more) and the Tarahumara. Caballo only can access the greater world via a dialup modem thirty miles away from his hut. But he recruits (with McDougall's help) some of the greatest runners in America and they finally, after much tribulation, raceteh Tarahumara.

Of course, the story above is kind of silly. McDougall's writing is what makes the story. The way he can relate the story, bring to life these different people is amazing. Its one of the more amazing books, even if you don't like to run. And if you don't, you'll want to start after you finish.

Five Stars!