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Racing the Antelope: What Animals Can Teach Us About Running and Life Hardcover – April 24, 2001

4.5 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"Movement is the essence of life," writes biologist Heinrich (Bumblebee Economics; Mind of the Raven), a professor at the University of Vermont and winner of Germany's Alexander von Humboldt Senior Scientist Award. Indeed, Heinrich has spent much of his life running. As a young child, he and his family fled from advancing Soviet troops into the deep forest in Germany, where they eked out a living by collecting biological specimens for museums. Moving to Maine at age 10, Heinrich became a star cross-country runner for his high school and for the state university he later attended. He went on to become a marathoner and, at age 41, broke the North American record for Chicago's 100k (62.2 mile) race by 13 minutes (he eventually went on to 100-mile and 24-hour races as well). In this thoroughly engrossing account, Heinrich details his motivation and strategy for the Chicago race, based on what he has learned about animals that move far and fast and the peoples who have hunted them on foot. He explains the functions of bipedalism, muscle fiber types, cellular activity and heat regulation, adding, "It was not just our sweat glands that made us premier endurance predators. It was also our minds." Imagination, he insists, is the "pull that allows us to reach into the future" and the factor that differentiates human from animal racers. "Those hunters who had the longest vision," he writes, "persisted longest on the trail" and became our ancestors. As inspiring as it is fascinating, this book should have wide appeal both within and beyond the athletic world. Agent, Sandy Dijkstra.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Scientific American

Zoologist Heinrich is also what many people would regard as a superhuman runner. In 1981, at the age of 41, he set a record of 6:38:21 for the North American 100-kilometer race. Here, among other things, he tells the story of that grueling race and his preparations for it. The other things include the physiology of running and analyses of what makes certain animals noteworthy for speed or endurance--among them pronghorn antelopes, migrating birds and camels, "which show us how to handle an oversupply of heat with an undersupply of water." Now, along with his work as professor of zoology at the University of Vermont, he has begun "a new training regimen, to try for some age-group (over sixty) records."

Editors of Scientific American

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco; 1 edition (April 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060199210
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060199210
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #271,143 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Anyone (like myself) who likes to run longer distances (and likes ~bugs~ to boot) will just plain enjoy reading about Heinrich's passion for the simple, elegant and primordial sport of running. Heinrich has woven his autobiography with scientific inquiry...his vocation (biology) is what gives this book about his avocation (running) an interesting bent. Heinrich talks about antelope, birds, toads, dogs and cats etc. and investigates what those animals can teach us about running, and what humans do or do not have in common with these animals regarding stamina, endurance, and even focus. I think that this book gives the reader / runner something to think about and be inspired by in an abstract way rather than serving as a ~step-by-step process~ on how to be a better runner. This is not some boastful read for the old-fart jock club (which by age I would qualify for), but an inspirational life story ~and~ scientific investigation regarding the human spirit, our primal / animal need to run (well, some of us anyway) and the drive to pursue our dreams (that goes for all of us!).
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Format: Hardcover
After reading this book I'm running every day, really paying attention to what I'm doing while running and what my body is telling me, feeling stronger, getting stronger, and loving it. Thoughout my life I have run inconsistently, mostly as a chore to get in shape, preferring to bicycle when ever I wanted to engage long distance, aerobic efforts. Running always hurt too much in comparison to cycling. After reading this book my strengths, physical and mental, have come forward, and I run with a great deal more ease and enjoyment. But that's only half of it. Bern is a very high class story teller too. Very enjoyable book all the way around.
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By A Customer on July 28, 2001
Format: Hardcover
A truly wonderful book. Heinrich's exploration of endurance and running in the animal kingdom, coupled with his own efforts to prepare for and win an ultra distance (100-kilometer) race, is extraordinarily revealing. As a life long (66 year old) runner, I recommend this book without reservation.
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Format: Hardcover
I'd like to write a review of the previous review from Chicago. All it tells me is the the couch potato wasn't smart enough to buy the right book and then sought to blame the author(Heinrich) for his disappointment. Not much help.
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Format: Hardcover
Racing the Antelope is one of the finest books on running I have ever read. Heinrich draws us in with his anecdotes as an ultramarathoner and enriches us with his deatiled knowledge of biology and physiology. The technical aspects are informative yet not too heavy. Any experienced or even beginner runner can profit from his examples. Well done!!
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Format: Hardcover
This is a great little book. It's title doesn't fully convey the complete story which includes one man's quest for a life-time-in-the-making run.
While Bern Heinrich's description of his quest pertains to ultra-marathoning, I found the principles he brought out equally applicable to lesser efforts. His vignettes of the natural endurance abilities various animals and insects are useful to ponder as one tries to squeeze a little extra performance out of a marathon. I found his observations of mankind's natural abilities and their comparisons to wildlife very interesting. I also found his commentary of his thoughts and tactics in preparation for and during his actual 100k race identical to some that I've had during my own endurance runs.
All in all, a unique read for the experienced runner who doesn't need another "how to" book on running.
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Format: Hardcover
As an experienced student of the human condition I write to heap great praise on this book. In its pages are found fascinating remote evidences of the struggle that Mother Nature faced in creating that remarkable animal called us. Heinrich mines his treasury of biologic endurance characteristics and produces this wonderful treatise that bids us struggling zoo animals to regain our precious exercise heritage.
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