Born to run A hidden tribe, superathletes, and the greatest race the world has never seen

Christopher McDougall, 1962-

Book - 2009

McDougall reveals the secrets of the world's greatest distance runners-- the Tarahumara Indians of Copper Canyon, Mexico-- and how he trained for the challenge of a lifetime: a fifty-mile race through the heart of Tarahumara country pitting the tribe against an odd band of super-athletic Americans.

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Review by Booklist Reviews

From the depths of Mexico's Copper Canyon to the heights of the Leadville Trail 100 ultramarathon in Colorado, from the centuries-old running techniques of Mexico's Tarahumara tribe to a research lab at the University of Utah, author McDougall celebrates, in this engaging and picaresque account, humankind's innate love of running. There are rogues aplenty here, such the deadly narco-traffickers who roam Copper Canyon, but there are many more who inspire, such as the Tarahumara runners, who show the rest of the world the false limitations we place on human endurance. McDougall has served as an Associated Press war correspondent, is a contributing editor to Men's Health, and runs at his home in rural Pennsylvania, and he brings all of these experiences to bear in this slyly important, highly readable account. Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

McDougall writes for magazines where, if you don't keep readers riveted, they are apt to flick pages to get to the Kim Kardashian pictures. And BtR exemplifies beautifully the effect that kind of writer has: he keep readers interested. This energetically details McD's quest to find the Tarahumara, a renowned, secretive tribe of elite distance runners with "superhuman tolerance for pain and lechuguilla, a horrible homemade tequila brewed from rattlesnake corpses and cactus sap." Reading the book is probably not unlike running on the steep canyon trails native to the Tarahumra; it circles back on itself, twists, winds, and takes many, many tangents. Like about the Leadville 100 ultramarathon race or the mysterious power of chia seeds (now available in Obama and Hillary flavors!). Mac spends a lot of time describing the uniqueness and inhospitality of Mexico's Copper Canyons where the tribe lives, and its reluctance to race outside their own culture and instead remain intentionally segregated. It's part travelog, part gonzo-journo, part pro-barefoot running manifesto, part celebration of running. - Douglas Lord, "Books for Dudes", Booksmack! 7/7/11 (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Recounts the author's experiences with the reclusive Tarahumara Indians, whose techniques allow them to run long distances with ease, and describes his training for a fifty-mile race with the tribe and a number of ultramarathoners.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Full of incredible characters, amazing athletic achievements, cutting-edge science, and, most of all, pure inspiration, Born to Run is an epic adventure that began with one simple question: Why does my foot hurt? In search of an answer, Christopher McDougall sets off to find a tribe of the world's greatest distance runners and learn their secrets, and in the process shows us that everything we thought we knew about running is wrong.Isolated by the most savage terrain in North America, the reclusive Tarahumara Indians of Mexico's deadly Copper Canyons are custodians of a lost art. For centuries they have practiced techniques that allow them to run hundreds of miles without rest and chase down anything from a deer to an Olympic marathoner while enjoying every mile of it. Their superhuman talent is matched by uncanny health and serenity, leaving the Tarahumara immune to the diseases and strife that plague modern existence. With the help of Caballo Blanco, a mysterious loner who lives among the tribe, the author was able not only to uncover the secrets of the Tarahumara but also to find his own inner ultra-athlete, as he trained for the challenge of a lifetime: a fifty-mile race through the heart of Tarahumara country pitting the tribe against an odd band of Americans, including a star ultramarathoner, a beautiful young surfer, and a barefoot wonder.With a sharp wit and wild exuberance, McDougall takes us from the high-tech science labs at Harvard to the sun-baked valleys and freezing peaks across North America, where ever-growing numbers of ultrarunners are pushing their bodies to the limit, and, finally, to the climactic race in the Copper Canyons. Born to Run is that rare book that will not only engage your mind but inspire your body when you realize that the secret to happiness is right at your feet, and that you, indeed all of us, were born to run.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Full of incredible characters, amazing athletic achievements, cutting-edge science, and, most of all, pure inspiration, Born to Run is an epic adventure that began with one simple question: Why does my foot hurt? In search of an answer, Christopher McDougall sets off to find a tribe of the world’s greatest distance runners and learn their secrets, and in the process shows us that everything we thought we knew about running is wrong.Isolated by the most savage terrain in North America, the reclusive Tarahumara Indians of Mexico’s deadly Copper Canyons are custodians of a lost art. For centuries they have practiced techniques that allow them to run hundreds of miles without rest and chase down anything from a deer to an Olympic marathoner while enjoying every mile of it. Their superhuman talent is matched by uncanny health and serenity, leaving the Tarahumara immune to the diseases and strife that plague modern existence. With the help of Caballo Blanco, a mysterious loner who lives among the tribe, the author was able not only to uncover the secrets of the Tarahumara but also to find his own inner ultra-athlete, as he trained for the challenge of a lifetime: a fifty-mile race through the heart of Tarahumara country pitting the tribe against an odd band of Americans, including a star ultramarathoner, a beautiful young surfer, and a barefoot wonder.With a sharp wit and wild exuberance, McDougall takes us from the high-tech science labs at Harvard to the sun-baked valleys and freezing peaks across North America, where ever-growing numbers of ultrarunners are pushing their bodies to the limit, and, finally, to the climactic race in the Copper Canyons. Born to Run is that rare book that will not only engage your mind but inspire your body when you realize that the secret to happiness is right at your feet, and that you, indeed all of us, were born to run.