Over the last week or so I have had the time (when traveling, in between family meals, and after Jamie is in bed) to get stuck into a few new books about ultrarunning. When I say “new” I mean new to me, of course. A couple of these have been around for quite a while and are no means still on the bestseller lists. Outside of books that talk about the latest scientific progress in the sport or the latest training fad, however, there is nothing lost in picking up a book about ultrarunning or ultrarunners that is years old. Indeed, there’s plenty of value there trapped in the pages and wisdom to be gleaned by reading how others have taken on big challenges and either failed or succeeded.

Before heading away for Christmas I heard the Ten Junk Miles long run interview with Cory Reese. He has a relatively recent book out called Nowhere Near First and after grabbing the sample on my Kindle, I downloaded the whole book for the trip to Picardie. I managed to finish it fast as it is the sort of book that is just so interesting that you want to read on. It’s the story of a middle of the pack, even back of the pack ultrarunner who nonetheless has run some crazy hard events (Badwater, anyone?) and enjoyed himself doing it. It’s not one of those “do this and be an elite like me” books but rather one guy’s take on the world of ultrarunning in the midst of a family, friends, and personal goals. A great read.

The previous time my parents came to Lyon I had them watch the Barkley Marathons documentary and they were immediately captivated. How could people do this, they wondered. Then, on returning to Lyon for an early Christmas with us, they gifted me the book Tales From Out There by Ed Furtaw. This book tells the story of the Barkley by someone who has run a bunch of them and even finished one. I haven’t got all the way through it just yet, but I have read the first 3/4 of the book and it’ll be one I’ll finish off before the New Year. It is probably a little less interesting to anyone not fascinated by the sport of ultrarunning, but I find it intriguing.

On the way up to Picardie I also cracked open Pam Reed’s book The Extra Mile. Reed is an elite ultrarunner and among the best in the world, period. Her stories from the races she’s won and her struggle with anorexia provide a compelling take on elite-level ultrarunning and what it takes to be the best at something. I’m a couple of chapters from finishing this one but it is very well written – I think it has the best writing of the three books I have worked through this Christmas – and a real page-turner.

I was also lucky enough to be gifted Kilian Jornet’s book Run or Die by a colleague as part of the office Secret Santa game. That one will take me a little longer to get through as I’ll be reading it in French, but I’m looking forward to tackling it early in the New Year, if not a couple of days before when I finish off The Extra Mile. Look for a review soon!

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