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Running Through the Wall: Personal Encounters with the Ultramarathon

3.84  ·  Rating Details ·  383 Ratings  ·  35 Reviews
Running to the limits of human -endurance.

For those who are not content to run merely 26.2 miles, there is ultramarathoning. Some of the biggest ultras are 50 or 100 miles long, races in which people run all day, through the night and on into the next day. What makes them tick? What thoughts go through their minds at mile 93? How is the pain different from that of a marath
Paperback, 288 pages
Published April 1st 2003 by Breakaway Books
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Born to Run by Christopher McDougallWhat I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki MurakamiOnce a Runner by John L. Parker Jr.Eat and Run by Scott JurekNight Running by Emily Mitchell
Best Running (non-instructional) Books
70th out of 146 books — 432 voters
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Best Ultra Marathon Books
12th out of 14 books — 10 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 829)
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Jan 30, 2015 C rated it liked it
Shelves: running-books
Good book for those considering or curious about ultra marathons. This offers the point of view of multiple insiders through as they relate the story of their more memorable races.

I was personally looking for stories that detailed that moment of "I just can't go on" and how those people got past the moment(s), but while this is not a focus, of course it does come up ("What would Shackleton do? lol). (btw, I realize that I also misunderstood "the wall" as a point of mental exhaustion, rather tha
Jun 25, 2012 Deidre rated it really liked it
This is a book only crazy, obsessed, and ultimately insane runners will enjoy. It's a collection of stories from various ultra-distance runners (those who run further than the marathon-standard of 26.2, usually on crazy mountain/desert/Arctic/other-insane-places-on-earth type locations), and it's not really designed or set-up to appeal to the average individual who isn't aware of or interested in ultrarunning, for a few reasons:

1) The stories generally read like a bunch of high school kids havin
Jun 03, 2010 Jeffrey rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Most people think of an ultramarathon as something only 'crazy people' do. I used to think that myself, before I ran one. An ultra, though, is nothing more than a test of a runner's determination to conquer him or herself. At least, that's the lesson I gleaned from this collection of essays in which runners from all walks of life--working mother of three, retired marine, executive, guitarist with The Cult--write about their experiences running an ultramarathon.

Neal Jameson corralled some big nam
Oct 27, 2011 Erin rated it really liked it
“Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it. Action has magic, grace and power in it.” -Goethe

This book is a collection of essays from ultramarathoners of all ages and experience levels. It was great to read an essay here and there over the past couple of months, rather than reading the book as a whole. I think the best part of the book was how it opened my eyes to the fact that these are just people - not Olympic athletes, or fitness-obsessed anorexics - just regular people w
Jun 13, 2011 cory rated it it was amazing
a few of the stories are boring. some inspirational. the rest were so inspirational they made me cry. stories of people overcoming depression and suicide, dealing with loss of loved ones, getting beyond eating/body issues, running as a team with the family as crew or pacers, escaping the banality of typical day to day life. that and people who are just crazy and can do awesome stuff.
the stories range from those who have run dozens of ultras and rank in the top, to those with crazy dreams who re
Oct 21, 2016 Enric rated it it was amazing
I am seriously hooked to this kind of literature. In this book I lived through the miles with the different narrators. And as interesting as the experiences and the lore is for me the lessons that I can learn from each of them, some are practical tips that I myself can use and some others purely inspirational.

Loved the book.

Andreas Michaelides
Jul 02, 2015 Andreas Michaelides rated it it was amazing
A great book, amazing stories, I read this book a few months after I started running and it really inspired me, I loved the stories of the people that run more than 26.2 miles and it showed me what a person can do it has the will, the persistent and the time management to accomplish it.
Aug 28, 2007 Cherie rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: runners, ultrarunners
Mark lent me this book and I think it's actually quite good. (A lot of the times I have read running anthologies or magazines, the quality is not very good, and the writing is poor.) The writing was really engaging and inspirational, and I have added a few ultras to my previous goal of doing Badwater at some point (when I'm old and crazy!)--Hardrock sounds absolutely insane (but in a fun way). I can't wait to do my ultras. Ultras are different than regular running. When you do a marathon, you ar ...more
Henry Bickerstaff
May 27, 2015 Henry Bickerstaff rated it it was ok
There seemed to be a number of stories that were about the wall defeating you and not getting through the it. Some stories were uplifting but overall I was disappointed.
Andy Pele
Jun 05, 2016 Andy Pele rated it it was ok
Only for ultra fans. Much of the writing is uninspired, though the stories are truly inspirational.
Aug 29, 2012 Jeannie rated it it was amazing
My ultra running friend Ralph Hirt loaned me this book months ago. I did enjoy it. How else do you think I realized that I myself had hit the wall at my last 50 in July. In the book there are about 39 stories from ultramarathoners about their experience and encounters with the ultramarathon. It's the good, the bad and the ugly. I truly enjoyed each story. My favorites were the ones from the people I know, about the Barkley, Hawaii Hurt 100, Leadville, Western States. But probably the one that st ...more
Michelle Lines
Dec 09, 2012 Michelle Lines rated it liked it
I found this book to be "mostly" interesting. There seemed to be a high proportion of articles from runners from Virginia, which led to a few too many tales about the same race (Massanutten 100). I would have liked to hear more accounts from runners/races in Colorado.

The big takeaway I got from this book is that it doesn't appear to take great athletic prowess to run ultras...just indestructible mental toughness and an iron will. "Just" those things, ha. Nonetheless, I have already picked out my
Jayme Barnard
Jun 09, 2014 Jayme Barnard rated it it was amazing
I am absolutely fascinated by the individual battles to accomplish ultras. I enjoyed reading all of the stories. I love how the mental strength is required whether you finish first second or last. The ultra community is absolutely wonderful and this book accents that nicely.
Dec 13, 2010 Macallan rated it really liked it
The first two stories are clunkers, but by the third I was getting the sense of what it took mentally and physically to run an ultramarathon and what the overall experience of these races might be like. This book motivated me out the door many times this winter as it elevated my desire to get back to the trails. Massanutten sounds sick, as does Hardrock, HURT 100 and Western States. At least one of them is on my bucket list now.
Joe Rydel
Apr 08, 2015 Joe Rydel rated it really liked it
This book is a nice compilation of ultra runner experiences and stories. As a rookie ultra runner the only problem I had with the book is that it seems to have ignited a desire within me to keep going longer!
I love reading books about running and runners. This one is a great compilation of essays from ultra runners. While it certainly hasn't motivated me to sign up for a 50K, 50mi, or 100mi race, it was interesting to read about the brutal experience so many men and women have done, and continue to do, with enthusiasm. I'll stick to marathons. :)
Michel B.
Dec 30, 2010 Michel B. rated it liked it
Shelves: 2010-reads
Interesting stories and perspectives. I found the writing lacking at times. Although the book aims to give as many different looks at the same subject - I did find it repetitive at times. This being said - these true stories are awe inspiring.
Jan 11, 2010 Nic rated it really liked it
This is a book ONLY for those interested in Ultra-marathoning... I really enjoyed the portions I got read (I will take this out of the library again, I just need to get caught up), I just doubt the majority of people would...
Jan 19, 2011 Jocelyn rated it really liked it
Shelves: sports, running
A collection of short stories from runners who have run ultras. The first few stories didn't hook me, but I found some of the others to be inspirational. Amazing what these runners can do physically and mentally!
Jan 11, 2008 Donald rated it it was amazing
Shelves: endurance
Very inspirational book on Ultra Marathons. This book will make you want to fly out of bed and put some miles down. It's a bunch of short stories regarding people's experience running Ultra's.
Crista Roa
Oct 11, 2007 Crista Roa rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Runners who need a pick me up
Totally inspirational. Ok I am a dork...I got a little teary eyed during certain stories, but boy am I ready to tackle my first Ultra!!! I am san I only have a few storie left :(
Interesting accounts of running ultras. I am glad that they actually included some last place finishers accounts. Wish they had included more than just a couple.
Paul Sidwell
Nov 01, 2009 Paul Sidwell rated it it was amazing
Great stories from numerous contributors about their experiences running distances longer than the standard 26.2 mile marathon, AKA the UltraMarathon.
George Mrosko
This ia a collection of short stories of experiences with ultras. Some are pretty touching. All have the same theme of not quitting. Good stuff.
Mark Fallon
Jul 23, 2010 Mark Fallon rated it really liked it
Nice compilation of ultramarathon race reports. I think he could've left out the people who were unprepared, and blew up on the course.
Feb 15, 2015 Jen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A pretty good read! I recognized the names of several of the runners in this book, and have met one. :)
Jan 07, 2013 Monica rated it really liked it
Enjoyable if you like hearing about the challenges of ultrarunning
Dec 07, 2010 Kiri rated it liked it
Loads of description of the ultramarathon experience!
J.B. Fisher
Jul 19, 2010 J.B. Fisher rated it liked it
Great collection of the craziest people on the planet.
Feb 27, 2012 Anna rated it it was amazing
Because of this book I am going to run an ultramarathon..
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