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Surviving the Toughest Race on Earth Paperback – October 18, 1999

3.8 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Set in such exotic locales as Borneo, the Andes and Madagascar, the Raid Gauloises?the world's toughest "adventure race," according to the author?challenges athletes to run, bike, swim, kayak, hike and even parachute through, into and across some of the hottest, muddiest and downright most unpleasant terrains on Earth. The multiday event is so grueling that even navy SEALs have been known to drop out before finishing. Journalist Dugard, who has competed in the race twice and finished once, records his experiences of the race and of his writing life outside it in this briskly told report. Unfortunately, Dugard spends more time musing over his personal journey to the race (recounting his leap from the corporate world to that of journalism in expansive detail, for example) than delving into the mindset of the "extreme athlete" in the heat of competition. Runners and extreme sports enthusiasts will no doubt relate to Dugard's exacting descriptions of the race and its hardships. However, coverage of the event's evolution (from obscure competition conceived in 1989 to televised media event) and of the sponsorship troubles and in-fighting Dugard had to contend with on his own "team" does little to make up for the relative paucity of participant reportage. For all the buildup, Dugard's account of his first race is too brief, and that of his second does little more to capture the armchair adventurer's imagination. Photos by Tony DiZinno, not seen by PW.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Just when it seems like the Tour de France or the Hawaii Ironman, the ultimate in endurance sports, can't be surpassed, someone thinks up the Raid Gauloises and the Eco-Challenge, "adventure races." For several days, in remote corners of the world such as Madagascar, teams of five navigate rugged terrain by hiking, mountain biking, orienteering, whitewater rafting, and camel or horseback riding. Dugard, who has written for Sports Illustrated and Outside, captures the power of group dynamics and the brutal lows of competing in sometimes close-to-death situations in this sport. When prerace instructions include how to survive a crocodile attack by shoving your hand down the crocodile's throat to open a valve that lets water into its lungs, one knows this competition is anything but ordinary! Anyone who believes that "life is a journey, not a destination," will surely enjoy this book, which also chronicles Dugard's departure from the corporate world to write full-time. One drawback: the lack of course maps. Brenda Barrera --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 212 pages
  • Publisher: International Marine/Ragged Mountain Press; 1 edition (October 18, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0071358218
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071358217
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,222,346 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
There is a message in this book much greater than that of finishing the Raid Gauloises. It's the journey that's important, not so much the finish.
If your looking for a how-to book on adventure racing, this may not be for you. However, if your looking to read the story of one man's accomplishments and how those accomplishments relate to adventure racing, this is certainly a book to read.
The author takes us through his experiences of adventure racing both on and off the course, sharing the essence of his human spirit.
It's a story of dreams that became a reality. A story of teamwork, discipline and friendship. A story of love for one's family and a passion for life.
Thanks Marty and enough with the ibuprofen, that stuff will kill you.
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Format: Paperback
This book is really two stories within one. The author starts by telling how he changed his life by taking a chance and pursuing a dream. It is a story of a corporate professional who grows disillusioned with his job, and spends his days daydreaming about a more exciting and fulfilling life. Taking a leap of faith, with the support of his wife, the author decides finally to pursue his dream as a free lance writer. We follow the author's adventure first as a correspondent for a new sport, and then listen as the author is drawn into the sport as a participant. The author is very informative when it comes to describing the adventure race experience. If you have ever wondered what an adventure race entails, and what motivates people to undertake such an endeavor, this book is for you. If you are stuck in a deadend job and dream of doing something different, then you may want to read this book as well. The editing could be better (I often times wondered if the author used the same editor on "Survivor"), but this is only a small distraction from the material contained in the book.
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Format: Hardcover
This was a book I looked at several times before I bought it, but I am glad I finally did. I think its an excellent description of adventure racing, and Dugard's description of his own attempts to form a team point out some serious considerations for anyone else thinking about it. The ability of a group of people to work together in pursuit of a common goal is going to be compromised when faced with conditions like those in adventure racing. Fear, exhaustion, uncertainty, hunger, stress...All of those things serve to magnify the little differences of opinion that might otherwise never be remarked upon. Dugard does a great job of being honest and open with what happens with his, and others', teams.
Dugard's writing left me with the overall feeling that you didn't have to be superhuman to finish an even like the Raid, or the Eco-challenge. All you have to be is dedicated. And maybe a little lucky.
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By A Customer on December 22, 1998
Format: Hardcover
A friend gave me this book just 2 weeks after we had completed our first adventure race and I quickly blew through it. It was a real joy to read. Dugard takes the reader along for the ride and attempts to give some insite to, not only the races, but why someone would actually want to attempt one, and how the race dominates the participant's life.
Assuming the reader is interested in the sport, the information contained within is tremendously valuable, because the vantage point is not that of a Discovery Channel commentator or a Race Spokesman, but a participant, slogging through the ordeal.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a wonderful story of someone who actually had the guts to follow his dreams. Mr. Dugard proves that if you put your mind and heart into something you can accomplish pretty much anything. While I may never have the opportunity to participate in an adventure race like the ones he describes, it certainly is fun thinking about it and encourages me to keep pushing myself physically and mentally to accomplish my goals. Thanks for a great book, Mr. Dugard!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Brilliant writer and accomplished athlete Martin Dugard covers the Raid Gauloises first as a journalist when the Raid was in Madagascar/ Borneo, then as a participant, when the Raid was in Patagonia where he didn't finish and again in Argentina, when he did finish the race.
He prefaces the book by describing the modern day fascination with adventure racing. "...There is a new kind of athlete, participating in a new kind of sport. This new athlete competes not for fame, or money, or career, but simply for the adventure and for the experience of living- if only for the span of the event -at the very brink of human strength and endurance." We not only witness Dugard's confounding eight day race through hell, we're also treated to the evolution of Adventure Racing, the psychology of the adventure-warrior and the history of man's fascination with exploring the unknown whether as an explorer, an extreme athlete or an historian.
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Format: Hardcover
I was boiling with anticipation to read this. It seems I can't get enough of Adventure Racing whether it's watching the Eco Challenge, reading about the Raid Gaulioses or participating in the Hi Tec Series. However, most of my anticipation was destroyed during the first part of this book. I'm happy for Mr Dugard in that he was able to escape corporate America and do what he dreamed of doing. But he beat the issue to death. Factor in his story on the Concorde and he has no right calling this book what he did. It's the classic bait and switch. I wanted a first hand account on what it's like to train, participate in and then finish an Eco Challenge and/or Raid. I just didn't get that. In the end he finally did give me a little taste of what I was after when he described his experiences with Team Lestra Sport. But it just wasn't enough. I do give him credit there as he did finish the race even after the rest of Lestra Sport was forced to drop out.
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