Author and journalist Christopher McDougall begins his journey with one simple question: “Why do my feet hurt?” McDougall was an avid runner whose running days seemed to be ending due to acute foot pain. Cushioned shoes and orthotics did not seem to help. Running is simply bad for you, claimed most sport doctors. But then, McDougall stumbled across the story of the Tarahumara, or, in their own language, Raramuri, which directly translates to “running people.” These indigenous people from the Copper Canyon region of Mexico, an area known for its harsh beauty (Copper Canyon is the deepest canyon in the world). They hunt their prey by exhaustion: they chase their prey for several miles to tire it out and then can catch it and kill it. Also, they competed in one of the most difficult ultra-marathons (100 miles plus at a time) in the world and shattered the world record. Then, disenfranchised by the modern world, disappeared back into the canyons. Not only are the Tarahumara excellent runners, they are also known for serenity, and peaceful, good-hearted nature. Oh yeah, and the winner was 50 years old and ran in tire-soled sandals. ” So why, if these guys can do all this into their fifties, why can’t I run 3 miles,” McDougall asks. The answer, he finds, is in the shoes, or lack thereof. We evolved to run great distances in our bare feet, not oddly shaped shoes (I’ll post about the science of barefoot running one of these days).
He then embarks on a quest to find and learn from the mysterious Raramuri the way to run. To do so, he must evade dangerous Mexican drug cartels, deal with outrageous long-distance runners, and find the elusive tribe itself! The result is Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen. This book is part adventure, part running guide, part history, and part science. I enjoyed this book so much that I polished off this book in a single night. Without a doubt, this is the most fun book I have read in a long time.