This is my ‘kinda’ book! I devoured this over a weekend.
Like a well-balanced red wine, Finn creates a smooth blend between his own quest to qualify for and run the UTMB, stories of some of the sport’s greats like Elisabet Barnes, Mira Rai, Kilian Jornet and Jim Walmsley and the historical roots of ultra-running.
If you are an avid follower of the ultra-running scene, as I am, you will know that there is much information available from documentaries (Mira, Unbreakable, Barkley 100, Finding Traction) to books (Born to Runby Christopher McDougall, Run or Dieby Kilian Jornet, Ultramarathon Manby Dean Karnazes) to YouTube videos. Many of the books in this area are either biographical or autobiographical (like Finding Ultraby Rich Roll and Eat & Runby Scott Jurek – both reviewed by me on this website). Despite the crowded space, Finn manages a fresh take on it because although he is clearly a decent runner (he is a sub 3 hour marathoner) when it comes to ultras, he’s more of an also-ran (not that there is anything ordinary about finishing an ultra). Perhaps that is the appeal of this book, rather than reading about super human athletes, following Finn’s journey shows that with the right training and commitment and support (from family or friends and medical professionals) perhaps you can do it too!
Finn does not sugar coat his journey either. During the races he documents, he is frank about the “pain cave” and his internal monologue urging him to pull out but somehow finding something deep inside that kept him running through the pain and through the finishing arch.
If you are into ultras or want to be into them, read The Rise of the Ultra Runners – you’ll be gripped!
Link to author site: https://www.faber.co.uk/author/adharanand-finn/
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The Rise of the Ultra Runners: A journey into the heart of the world’s toughest sport
Ultra running is one of the fastest growing sports in the world, with an ever-expanding cohort of fans and competitors. But is the rise of this most brutal and challenging sport – with races that extend into hundreds of miles – an antidote to modern life, or a symptom of a modern illness? In Ultra Running, award-winning author Adharanand Finn travels to the heart of the sport to investigate the reasons behind its rise, and to discover what it takes to be an ultra runner. Through encounters with the extreme and colourful characters of the ultramarathon world, and his own experiences of training for the 106-mile Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, Finn offers a fascinating account of people testing the boundaries of human endeavour.