Friday, May 17, 2019

Book Review: The Rise of the Ultra Runners by Adharanand Finn

Disclaimers: I received a pre-release copy of The Rise of the Ultra Runners by Adharanand Finn from NetGalley. This post contains affiliate links.





"And there it is, deep in the pain cave, as they told me all along, that the fun begins." ~Adharanand Finn, The Rise of the Ultra Runners

Why on earth would anyone want to run a marathon? That's what people used to say to me when they found out I was running 26.2 miles. But for a lot of runners, the marathon is just the gateway drug to the ultrarunning world. What's the limit? I have no idea. My friend Kristina, who ran the Big Sur Marathon with me, has become an ultra runner and recently announced that besides running Western States, she's running a 250 mile race this year.

Hold up! 250 miles?

Have you noticed that everyone seems to be signing up for ultras these days? If you haven't, you're not paying attention. Ultramarathons have increased 1000% in the past decade. Some races, like the Western States 100 and the European equivalent, the Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB), which takes place in the Alps, require runners to qualify for the races. The rules are very specific.

Adharanand Finn, an accomplished road runner with a 2:50 marathon PR and author of Running with the Kenyans, decided to see for himself exactly what the ultramarathon phenomenon was all about. For his first race, he signed up for the Oman Desert Marathon, a 156 km race that takes place over 6 days in the Saharan Desert. He was completely unprepared for the experience, but ~spoiler alert~ he finishes. And so goes the start of his adventure in ultrarunning.


Finn ran that sandy ultra but instead of scarring him for life, it spurred him on to run more ultras, all in the name of journalism.  He decided he may as well try qualifying for UTMB. Not only did he run in the desert, but he also ran in the mountains. He ran a 24 hour ultra on a track. He ran a 100 mile races in California and France.  His recap of Comrades in South Africa was hilarious. In several of his races, there were blisters and hallucinations. At one race, he got lost. By the time he finished his quest and ran UTMB, he learned a lot of lessons and found the inner strength he didn't know he possessed.

Finn also wanted to learn more about the sport and the runners who participate. If you follow ultra running at all, you'll recognize a lot of names: Kilian Jornet, Jim Walmsley, Zack Miller, Hillary Allen, and Clare Gallagher, among others. Throughout his journey, he shares a great deal of wisdom and information about ultrarunning. Finn is a gifted writer and while reading the book, I found myself on the trail with him, mentally, at least!

Along his journey, Finn learns a lot about the sport. So did I. The Rise of the UltraRunners is such well-written book that at times I had difficulty putting it down. You don't have to be an ultra marathoner to enjoy it. I'm not and I absolutely loved this book. Since I'm not planning on running any ultras, I'll just live vicariously through Finn.

How far could you run? The Rise of the Ultra Runners is a fascinating read!/via @oldrunningmom @adharanand @Pegasus_Books @NetGalley #runchat #ultrarunning #running

Do you run ultras? If not, are you considering it? What distance would be your limit? Got any questions for Dean Karnazes (see below)?


globalrunningday.org
For June, I'm reviewing 2 running books! Both books are due to be released on June 4.

Global Running Day is June 5 and I'll be featuring Chicken Soup for the Running Soul: Running for Good 101 Stories for Runners and Walkers to Get You Going by Amy Newmark and Dean Karnazes. I'll also be giving away 2 copies, so stay tuned for that!


On June 21, I'll be reviewing another new release, Running to the Edge: A Band of Misfits and the Guru Who Unlocked the Secrets of Speed by Matthew Futterman. This is the Story of Bob Larsen, the legendary running coach who trained numerous champions, including Meb!


I'm linking this post with Fridays with Fairytales and Fitness.


18 comments :

  1. Sounds like a good read, I will add it to my reading list!

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  2. I'm loving all these running books! Thanks for identifying them for us!

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    1. There are so many good books this year that I'm having trouble deciding which ones to review!

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  3. I never thought I would run an ultra, then I did a 50k. And I thought well heck that wasnt that much more than a marathon and so less competitive. I wanted to challenge myself even more so I dis a 50 miler a few years later. But NEVER will I run a 100 miler or more. I can't even fathom 250 miles....wow!

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  4. Sounds like a book I need to read!! I can't wait to run another ultra. This review fits perfects with my Friday post about ultras too - we're on the same wavelength :)

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  5. Since I'm not driven by speed, the ultras are intriguing to me because they're more about the distance/endurance. I have heard good things about this book; sounds like one that I need to read.

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    1. I like the idea of running slower too. Plus its so pretty on the trails!

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  6. I will never have a desire to run an ultra ( I don't know how people do it). 26.2 is my limit and that was even pushing it....lol. I am anxious to hear your review of the chicken soup book. Since I write professionally, I was asked to make a submission to the chicken soup book ( but it didn't get chosen), which is my own fault because I waited till the last minute deadline and I don't think my writing was as good as it could have been...lol -M

    Thanks for linking up.

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    1. I'm sorry to hear your submission wasn't selected! The book is very inspirational so far.

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  7. I just got this book in the mail today! Thanks for your recap. Can't wait to get started.

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  8. I just realised this was available on NetGalley but is archived now - gah! Anyway I will get myself a copy. I am doing an ultra but a low-demand one (just the 31 miles), as most of them are on trails and I fear trails, I think I will stick to road marathons after this ...

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    1. I just won Running Beyond by Ian Corless on NetGalley, another (yet another) ultra book!

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    2. I saw that one! Looking forward to your review.

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