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Running on Empty: An Ultramarathoner's Story of Love, Loss, and a Record-Setting Run Across Americ a Hardcover – April 14, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


"One of America's greatest living adventurers and an expert without peer in human endurance."
-from the foreword by Christopher McDougal

"Marshall is The Man. Definitively. His run across America at the age of 57 sealed that distinction forever. He's living proof that endurance never sleeps, never gets old, never tires. Nothing can stop him, and that gives us all hope, gives us resolve to keep trying."
-Dean Karnazes, acclaimed endurance athlete and bestselling author of Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner

"Marshall and I go way back to the first Eco-Challenge in 1995. An athlete of astonishing grit both then and now, he never fails to push the limits of his sport, no matter what extreme endurance event he's chosen. Running on Empty tells the story of Marshall's greatest test: reading it, you get a sense of how tough this man is, but there's also a bit of Everyman in Marsh. He's an inspiration to all of us." -Mark Burnett, Emmy-award-winning producer of Survivor, Eco-Challenge, The Apprentice, Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader and others

About the Author

Marshall Ulrich is an extreme-endurance athlete, ultrarunner, mountaineer, and adventure racer. His career has earned him wins, records, and firsts on some of the toughest courses in the world and has taken him to the top of the highest mountains. He lives in Idaho Springs, Colorado.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Avery; First Edition edition (April 14, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1583334238
  • ISBN-13: 978-1583334232
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (103 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #273,696 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Marshall Ulrich (b. July 4, 1951) defies the ideas of "too old," "too far," and "not possible."

A versatile, world-class extreme endurance athlete, he's an ultrarunner, Seven Summits mountaineer, and adventure racer. Marshall's prolific athletic career has earned him numerous wins, records, and firsts on some of the toughest courses in the world and taken him to the top of the highest mountains, including Mount Everest--all in his forties and fifties.

At the age of 57, Marshall ran 3,063.2 miles across the United States, from San Francisco to New York City, in 52.5 days. His first book, "Running on Empty," is a memoir mostly about the transcontinental run, but it also includes tales and lessons learned from all his athletic pursuits, some painful, some funny, some completely life-changing.

Also a speaker, trainer, and guide with his company, Dreams in Action, Marshall delivers keynotes punctuated by extreme adventure stories and the inspiration to "discover what you're made of--it's more than you think"; leads running camps that serve every level of athlete; and guides expeditions through extreme environments and on the world's great mountains.

Learn more at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By R. Charbonneau on April 22, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Marshall is one of America's finest, yet least known, extreme endurance athletes. If you Google him, you'll find a list of accomplishments so long and varied that it will be hard to believe. But Marshall hasn't been one for self-promotion, so until recently he may be best known for having all his toenails permanently removed, rather than for anything else he's done.

Marshall's cross country run was the subject of a movie, "Running America",that I thought was a superficial look at what I knew must have been an amazing, intense effort. When I sat down to read his book, I found "Running on Empty" to be just about everything I wanted the movie to be.

Marshall goes into great detail about the challenges he faced during the run and how he overcame them. I got a much better picture of who he was, why he'd try such a thing, what he went through, and how everyone involved felt about the whole thing. Marshall shares the special moments during the trip and the exhilaration he felt when he finished, but he's not shy about discussing the downside of his dedication to complete his goal and the toll it takes on those around him. (Along the way, he also discusses some issues that help explain why the movie came out the way it did.)

He's definitely a runner who writes, not a writer who runs (unlike Christopher McDougall, who's "Born to Run" has broken out to find an audience among non-runners), but his honest and matter-of-fact writing style goes over well. Marshall doesn't make himself out to be the greatest thing since sliced bread. If anything, his straightforward writing style tends to downplay the nature of his accomplishments.

I raced through Marshall's book in two days.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Livingforadventure on February 9, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I was disappointed after reading this book. I refused to put it down after starting to read because I am stubborn and was hoping for improvement but it was lackluster throughout. I even pre-ordered this so imagine my disappointment. Marshall is a great ultrarunner with a clear tolerance for all things painful but beyond completing a feat that most can't imagine I had a tough time finding book-worthy material. It seemed to drag on with whinny, self-absorbed viewpoints and unentertaining descriptions of dysfunctional personal relationships that made for painful reading material. I wanted so much more as I am an avid runner myself who is always seeking the next adrenaline rush. I have read many more interesting, uplifting and inspirational books that are well worth the read before this one. Check out born to run, the long run, or ultramarathon man. These have some redeeming qualities and are entertaining with much better writing.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By old dave thorpe on April 14, 2011
Format: Hardcover
"Running on Empty" gets you going good, especailly as you contemplate what is next in your life! Reading Marshall's book will encourage you to move beyond the "let's think about it" to "I can do it." We all seem to be born with the same moving parts, but Marshall was honored with the ability to establish priorities, set his mind to challenges, and become superior enough to conquer the Mt. Everest's of the world. I learned from Marshall that we all have "Will Power"...I just need the confidence to use it. Marshall over came monstrous hurdles such as physical pain, mental anguish, emotional cratering, body break downs - only to rise above them all to write a book that makes it possible for folks like me to feel honored with my gifts and capable of using them to better purpose.

This quick reading book will be one you remember. I would encourage young, old and those in between to grab a copy to read - and they should enjoy moving aside the seeds of their doubt to focus on the ambitions and dreams hidden inside them.

"Running on Action" is a bold call to action for all of us. Marshall has traveled the world, achieved the unachievable, and written of his adeventures in a way that becomes compelling. Throughly enjoyable, easily understood, massively captivating...Great job.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Richard E Neslund on May 17, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Inspiring! Thought provoking! Compelling! Seamlessly woven into the fabric of Running on Empty, are three complimentary themes: achieving extraordinary results, sharing deeply fulfilling love and living with personal integrity in our commitments and respect of other people.

Is this book for you? Ever feel frustrated when you realize that your dreams continue to be just far-off fantasies? Ever feel a gnawing emptiness when you recognize that you're alone and have no really deep connection with anyone like a special soul-mate? Ever feel self-alienated by how you compromise your commitments to yourself and others? Marshall addresses each of these major life concerns without ever resorting to a direct self help book teaching style. In this true-life story, Marshall shares compelling examples of how he relentlessly works to actualize his dreams, emotionally moving examples of how he dedicatedly honors and cherishes his soul-mate Heather and situation examples of how he determinedly honors his commitments and respects all other beings.

Have you ever felt you could be more successful "if only..." or do you ever feel about life like the old fast food commercial, where the elderly lady challenges, where's the beef?" Again, in his gentle and humble style, Marshall shares his personal secrets for overcoming the temptations of letting his mind use excuses to distract him (or excuse him) from achieving his resolve and also examples of how he finds positive energy in simply acknowledging the best in other people and appreciating the simple beauty of everyday nature.

Though Running on Empty is presented in the context of accomplishing amazing athletic feats, Marshall's message applies equally well in our frenetic business worlds.
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