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And Then the Vulture Eats You: True Tales About Ultramarathons and Those Who Run Them Paperback – September 6, 2011
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But ultramarathons? Despite the growth of oddball and novelty running events (relays, mud races, and so forth), ultras are still the genuine lunatic fringe. So what would the 99% of runners have to gain from reading this book? The same thing that all of us gain when we push ourselves in sport: self-knowledge.
The editor, John L. Parker, Jr., put it well in the introduction: "What manner of beast lurks in the sweaty ethers out there beyond the 26.2 mile post? What manner of rare enkephalin does your brain secrete in reward or dismay? And now that we've had any number of great-grandmoms happily finish marathons, where, finally, are the real limits to what the human animal can persuade itself to endure on foot?"
(As a closing pitch, for anyone who is just getting into motivational running literature, Parker is the author of Once a Runner--perhaps the best running book ever--as well as its almost-as-good sequel Again to Carthage. So I had confidence that an author who'd achieved such pinnacles of insight about this strange sport would collect some worthwhile material here, and boy did he! The eight pieces in the collection cover a range of personal to bizarre to inhuman-sounding events, but what ties them together is serious observations, and moments of humor, about running.