Automotive Holiday Deals Books Gift Guide Books Gift Guide Shop Men's Athletic Shoes Learn more nav_sap_plcc_6M_fly_beacon Adele egg_2015 All-New Amazon Fire TV Subscribe & Save Martha Stewart American Made Find the Best Purina Pro Plan for Your Pet Amazon Gift Card Offer minions minions minions  Amazon Echo Starting at $84.99 Kindle Black Friday Deals Shop Now HTL
The Longest Race and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more

Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.

Buy Used
Condition: Used: Like New
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

The Longest Race: A Lifelong Runner, an Iconic Ultramarathon, and the Case for Human Endurance Hardcover – October 9, 2012

72 customer reviews

See all 5 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
New from Used from
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
$2.48 $0.01
Audio CD, Audiobook, CD
"Please retry"

"The Riverton Rifle"
Straight-shooting on hockey and life, by NHL legend Reggie Leach. Learn more.

Editorial Reviews


“Ought to be required reading even for people who have never run a step.”
―The Boston Globe

“Like the expert runner that he is, Ayres perfectly paces his tale and evokes the feeling of being on a long, rambling run with a very good friend. A gifted storyteller, he seamlessly moves between discussing running to exploring larger life issues such as why we run, our impact on the environment, and the effects of the nation’s declining physical fitness. The book is well structured, and the conversation is thought provoking, planting questions and ideas that readers will ruminate on long after the last page is turned. Ayres’ narrative skill makes this book stand out from other accounts of ultramarathons and is sure to appeal to both runners and nonrunners alike.”

“[Ed Ayres’] broad-ranging interests and accumulated wisdom will appeal to a wide readership, not just runners and environmentalists.”

“Veteran long-distance runner Ayres, a 55-year competitor in more than 600 races, brings the reader along for his grueling trek on the 2001 JFK 50 Mile, the nation’s oldest ultramarathon, explaining some critical insights that enable one to cross the finish line. . . . Using Sheehan’s axiom of “listening to your body,” the author provides runners with crucial information and key tips, ending with his must-have “Notes for an Aspiring Ultrarunner,” advising on breathing, nutrition, attitude, technique, training, footwear, and terrain. Revealing, savvy, and fast-paced, Ayres’s eloquent book on marathon running is a master class on the priceless life lessons of enduring and conquering obstacles to victory.
―Publishers Weekly

“To read this book is to run alongside a seasoned athlete, a deep thinker, and a great storyteller. And Ayres doesn’t disappoint: He is the best kind of running companion, generously doling out hilarious stories and hard-won insights into performance conditioning and the human condition. His lifetime of ultra-running and environmental writing drive his exploration of what keeps us running long distances―and what it might take to keep the planet from being run into the ground.”
―Nature Conservancy magazine

“Ultramarathon runner Ed Ayres is looking for a different kind of salvation―for the soul, for the planet. The races he’s been running for more than half a century have inspired athletes worldwide and reshaped our ideas about endurance and sustainability. . . Ayres’s new book, The Longest Race, is partly a chronicle of his experience in the fabled JFK 50 Mile ultramarathon, but it’s also about so much more. . . . Indeed, with all his talk about “oxygen debt” and “research depletion” it soon becomes clear that this book isn’t just about an athletic race. It’s also about the human race.”

“Subtitled A Lifelong Runner, an Iconic Ultramarathon, and the case for Human Endurance, this is no ordinary running book. Like most of the other books of the genre, Ayres recounts many running tales, some inspiring, some amusing, some enlightening. He is a gifted storyteller and – befitting someone who spent most of his life as an editor – the book is full of well-written prose, something not commonly found in the running-book world. . . . For the ultrarunner, or the aspiring one, there is a brilliant appendix that provides a foundation for success in a sport with so many variables. It’s not so much a “do this, don’t do that” approach. Ayres uses his 50-plus years of experience and looks at the entire process, always simplifying and synthesizing. It’s easy to fall into the trap of making things complicated that don’t need to be – his ten notes neatly cut through all the clutter. The Appendix alone is worth the cost of the book.”

“An ultramarathon is made up of a million moments, and you’re different at the end than you were at the start―it’s the perfect metaphor, as Ed Ayres makes clear, for the race we’ve got to run now, with focus and grit, if we’re going to deal with the deepest trouble we’ve ever stumbled into as a planet.”
Bill McKibben, Schumann Distinguished Scholar, Middlebury College

“In this compelling read, visionary Ed Ayres takes us on a run that may save our nanosecond lives . . . and our planet. Most runners have the potential to be environmentalists, but after this book, we should be morally obligated. Take heart!―as Ayers says, ‘It’s a long work day, but the work is good.’”
Kathrine Switzer, first woman to officially run the Boston Marathon, winner of the 1974 New York City Marathon, and author of Marathon Woman

“Ed Ayres is a legend who shares his many provocative insights and lessons in an informative yet enjoyable way. A true champion, Ed uses his gift to help us all be the best that we can be.”
Dean Karnazes, athlete and New York Times bestselling author

“This book reminds us that our strength and vitality can never be separated from the health of the earth we run on, and whose air we breathe.”
Bill Rodgers, four-time New York Marathon winner and four-time Boston Marathon winner

“In a culture addicted to quick hits, fast times and unrelenting over-stimulus, Ed Ayres speaks with the voice of wisdom, simplicity, and acceptance of what is. The Longest Race offers many life lessons learned through Ayres’s long-time practice of endurance running. He speaks volumes on two things we could all use: more simplicity―and a sense of pacing. We highly recommend this book to anyone ready to step off the speeding train and do a freefall into the present.”
Danny and Katherine Dreyer, authors of Chi Running, Chi Walking and Chi Marathon

About the Author

Ed Ayres has been running competitively for fifty-five consecutive years, and he enjoys it as much now as he did when he joined his high school cross-country team in 1956. Ayres placed 3rd in the first New York Marathon in 1970, and he is the only runner of that race still competing today. Having participated in the early growth of American interest in roadrunning, trail-running, and marathons, he also became one of the pioneers of ultrarunning. He placed third in the US 50 Mile championship in 1976 (in 5:46:52), first in the JFK 50 Mile in 1977, and first in four US national age-division championships at 50K road, 50K trail, and fifty miles. He was the founding editor and publisher of Running Times magazine, and also worked for thirteen years as the editorial director of the Worldwatch Institute.


Hero Quick Promo
Holiday Deals in Kindle Books
Save up to 85% on more than 1,000 Kindle Books. These deals are valid until November 30, 2015. Learn more

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: The Experiment (October 9, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1615190635
  • ISBN-13: 978-1615190638
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.9 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #569,319 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ed Ayres has been a leading long-distance runner for the past half-century (four-time national age-division champion and founder of Running Times magazine), and during that time he has also made his living as an editor for some of the world's top physical and biological scientists (he was editorial director at the Worldwatch Institute). Over the years, he has noticed--and studied--striking parallels between what it takes to succeed as an endurance runner, and what leading scientists say will be necessary for human civilization to endure much longer.

In 2001, nine weeks after the 9/11 attacks, Ed decided to put his observations about these parallels to a test, by entering America's largest ultramarathon, the JFK 50-Mile Endurance Run, as a 60-year-old man convinced that by applying the principles of sustainability he had discovered, he would be able to keep pace with elite ultrarunners 20 or 30 years younger.

Ed's book The Longest Race recounts that story and what he believes may be its implications for human potential and the human future. The book has received strong praise both from prominent endurance athletes and from leading environmental scientists. The full title is The Longest Race: a Lifelong Runner, an Iconic Ultramarathon, and the Case for Human Endurance.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Paul Mastin TOP 1000 REVIEWER on October 9, 2012
Format: Hardcover
One of the great joys of running, especially an all-day event like an ultramarathon, is falling into step with someone and spending the time running together to learn about each other, hear about their racing experiences, and share a bit of life together. I have found that you can learn more about someone and forge deeper friendships by running on a trial for a couple of hours than you can by sitting next to someone at work every day for a year.

Ed Ayers has run a few races (quite a few, actually, more than half a century's worth), and reading his new book, The Longest Race: A Lifelong Runner, an Iconic Ultramarathon, and the Case for Human Endurance, must be a bit like the experience of sharing the trail with him for a few hours. The framework of the book is a race report of his 2001 JFK 50 Mile endurance run, at which he set the course record for his age group. He offers details of the course, the race itself, and his experiences that day, but The Longest Race is much more than a race report.

Woven among the mile markers and aid stations of the race are Ayres's reflections on running, the environment, and the human condition. Ayers has been running longer than most of us have been alive. He's run some of the great races, road marathons, trail runs, and ultras, and run with some of the great runners. He was a co-founder of Running Times magazine, shaping opinions and publishing pioneering articles at the dawning of the modern running movement. Here you'll find some of his distilled wisdom about running, born not of trendiness or the latest thing, but from his accumulated knowledge and experience. He's also worked in the environmentalist movement, and offers his insights on the future of life on earth.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Marshall Ulrich on October 29, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The Longest Race is a wonderfully written book about a seasoned runner who attempts to break a decades old age group record at the oldest and largest ultra marathon in the United States, the JFK 50 mile ultra. The author takes us from the start of the (running) race and glimpses back to our roots and where that has lead us in the present. The book is exciting and filled with vivid descritions of the landscapes and what happens in our mind and soul when we push them to the limits.

I love this book as it speaks of social responsibility, so the book is not all about running, but awareness. It's obvious that Mr. Aryes has lots of miles under his feet and has had lots of time to think on his feet and to ponder our existance. And he offers answers about how to sustain ourselves in the future using the past as a guide.

This is an excellent story and a must read for runners as well as all of us who participate in the human race.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By AmazonJavaJunki TOP 100 REVIEWER on February 17, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Once you hit middle age running...and life...take on a very different perspective and very few people have the running experience demonstrated by this book's author. This is a somewhat odd book in that it follows the author through a grueling 50+ mile race (a mega marathon if you will) at a later time in life. The author isn't as fast as he once was but what he lacks in speed is somewhat offset by experience....and so it goes with life itself.

During the run the author provides insight into what is going through his mind...from not falling face first to to an attempt to mentally locate other runners. But simultaneously he shares the thoughts and insight into how the landscape has changed over the years including the physical environment as well as the social one. The inclusion of women as serious race contenders...something younger women take for granted today but may fail to realize how restricted women were in the past. For example, I am old enough to remember being told that it was dangerous for women to run hard and all but impossible for women to run distances. The fact that marathon's were male only sports until the 70's and the Olympics limited women to short distances until the 80's speaks to how much this has changed.

But other changes - much more enduring and negative - have also taken place during the same time. The constant and ongoing erosion of environmental concerns, the alarming rate of obesity and chronic health problems across a significant portion of the American public (with corresponding expenditures in medical spending and public debt).

The author does a great job making this into an enjoyable read filled with an uncommon amount of common sense, criticism and hope...a tricky balance at best. Along the way readers will enjoy a glimpse into the mind of a giant in the running world, tips and food for thought.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By danzon#2 on March 21, 2013
Format: Hardcover
My husband has read many running books--he tends to be very discriminating. This one passed the test! At first he thought it was a little too much "save the earth" but by the end he was impressed. He felt that it was thoughtful and offered inspiration. I am looking forward to reading it!
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Afia TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Ed Ayres is a good example of the cerebral long-distance runner. While running his race, he focuses his mind on his immediate environment and it's history. But then he asks penetrating questions and makes interesting connections.

This is a mental race. You prepare by having researched issues to ponder and the time can go better when the mind solves the big problems of life.

My favorite theme was the idea that warriors and sports competitors have a lot in common. They seek to dominate their opponent or be victorious. Ayres pondered about various groups including the ancient Spartans.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews