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Running with the Kenyans: Discovering the Secrets of the Fastest People on Earth Paperback – April 9, 2013
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Advance praise for Running with the Kenyans
“Completely satisfying, as well-paced and exhilarating as a good run.”—The Boston Globe
“Not everyone gets to heaven in their lifetime. Adharanand Finn tried to run there, and succeeded. Running with the Kenyans is a great read.”—Bernd Heinrich, author of Why We Run
“Part scientific study, travel memoir, and tale of self-discovery, Finn’s journey makes for a smart and entertaining read.”—Publishers Weekly
“A hymn to the spirit, to the heartbreaking beauty of tenacity, to the joy of movement.”—The Plain Dealer
“Equal parts cultural examination, cult-of-running treatise, and poignant memoir, Running with the Kenyans thrives on a variety of levels. Like the skilled distance runner he is, Finn paces this book marvelously and then saves the best for the final kick. This book packs all the pleasure and satisfaction—and none of the ancillary pain—of a long training run.”—L. Jon Wertheim, senior editor, Sports Illustrated, and co-author of the New York Times bestseller Scorecasting
“Not everyone gets to heaven in their lifetime. Finn tried to run there, and succeeded. Running with the Kenyans is a great read.”—Bernd Heinrich, author of Why We Run
“If you want to know the secrets of Kenyan runners, and have a rollicking adventure along the way, join Finn in his fascinating tale of what it is to go stride for stride with the fastest people on Earth.”—Neal Bascomb, author of The Perfect Mile
“An extremely good book . . . If Born to Run taught us what to wear (or not to wear) when running, Finn’s fascinating Running with the Kenyans teaches us how to run. . . . In the tradition of the best sports writing, Finn embedded himself fully in his subject and reveals, for the first time, just how close we are to the holy grail of the sub-two-hour marathon.”—Robin Harvie, author of The Lure of Long Distances
“A beautiful and inspiring must-have for every runner, Running with the Kenyans is far more than an inspirational story, but a guide toward running, humility, and life, from the amazing people of Kenya.”—Michael Sandler, author of Barefoot Running
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Adharanand Finn seized the opportunity to run with Kenyans for 6 months, hoping to become as fast as a Kenyan. He was a fairly fast runner already (38 minutes for a 10K) and he did get faster. He and a group of Kenyans decide they will train for a marathon in Lewa. Through the book, we follow Adharanand as he trains with a group of Kenyan runners. He does get faster (and lighter) but the highlight of the book is getting to know a select group of Kenyans and learning about their culture. The book culminates in the running of the Lewa marathon, which is fitting, as by the end of the book we have gotten to know many runners and are sitting on the edge of our seats, wondering how they do. As a runner, I thought all the factors that went in to the Kenyan dominance in long-distance running were interesting--alas, most can not be replicated in America. Still, it was an inspiring and humbling book.
Finn jumped right into the running culture of Iten. To hear him tell it, there are runners everywhere. The roads get clogged with groups of runners, and there are numerous training camps. Virtually everyone Finn is introduced to has some kind of running credential: placed in a major marathon, world record holder for this distance, medalist in that Olympic Games, etc. That high concentration of success and speed is pretty intimidating, but Finn does his best to keep up. He even puts together a team to train for an upcoming marathon.
Over the course of the book, Finn entertains us with the idiosyncrasies of life in rural Kenya (I loved his observation, which drew little comment, of the shepherd who delivered his charges one at a time in the basket of his bicycle. I wish Finn would have taken pictures. . . .) as well as with his reports of running with these world-class athletes (he often runs with the women. . . .). All the while, he asks the question that prompted his visit to Iten: why are the Kenyans so fast, dominating road racing the world over in recent years?
My favorite explanation is tied to the tradition of cattle rustling.Read more ›
That said, let me add that you don't have to be a runner to enjoy Adharanand Finn's "Running with the Kenyans". (Notice how the "the" suggests the selectivity of just who Finn is going to be running with - not just any Kenyans, the Kenyans.) It combines a bit of memoir, with a bit of journalism, a dash of travelogue, and a lot of running, making for a diverse and divergent read. (It reminded me a bit of Boozehound: On the Trail of the Rare, the Obscure, and the Overrated in Spirits in that respect.) Of course, if you are a runner, or more so, one of the growing legion of barefoot or minimal shoe runners (like me), I think you will find this book both challenging and enlightening. Enlightening for obvious reasons, challenging as I will explain below.
The author is a British journalist and running magazine writer whose family reached a crossroads at the same time as his running career/hobby did.Read more ›
British journalist Adharanand Finn probably experienced some of the same urges when he decided to uproot his young family and actually make an attempt to run with Kenyans on their own turf. Throughout the course of this quickly paced book - a cross between running guide/journal and travel guide - self-discovery and a humility with which I could empathize ultimately washes over Finn, as he experiences the impossibility of what I once desired. One cannot simply run "with" the Kenyans. The book should probably have been "Running Beyond the Kenyans" to be more accurate.
Those looking for the Holy Grail of Kenyan running will not find it within. Nearly no training secrets, no daily running regimen, no insight into a training calendar leading up to the event, no worthwhile hydration details, no detailed, analytical data of any kind. Maybe I was looking for something never intended. What Finn does provide, however, is the theoretical. Whether it's climate, diet, genetics, altitude, peer pressure, community pride, dedication, folklore, or a litany of other possibilities, his seemingly final statement is that Kenyans are fast because they are Kenyans.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Fantastic book, easy read.
More than 50% of my life I've been a runner. I'm a white Caucasian male who is trying to always get better and I look up to East Africans in... Read more
Great book. Included everything. Running form, diet, rest, and workouts. If you are a serious runner, you should read this book.Published 6 months ago by Rematch28