Katie's Reviews > Running with the Kenyans: Passion, Adventure, and the Secrets of the Fastest People on Earth

Running with the Kenyans by Adharanand Finn
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Jun 06, 12

Read in June, 2012

It's no "Born to Run," but it was still quite good. This is a nonfiction book about why Kenyans are beating the pants off the rest of us in basically all running events (be they short sprint-distance races, or marathons). It's part travelogue and part running book, which is key, I think; even as a runner myself, I think books *purely* about just running and nothing else are kind of boring, so including the aspects about life in Kenya and travel through Kenya make this a much better book.

SPOILER: So does he answer the question? No, but that's because there is no definitive answer... there are a number of factors contributing to the Kenyans' mind-boggling running success. Barefoot running, training camps where the athletes JUST train and rest (they don't have other jobs), the tendency for kids to run back and forth to school (they need to go home for lunch, and there are no school buses. Plus homes are spread apart and the school is never close to where you live), a hardscrabble life (which just forces you to be more active in general), the altitude, and probably some other factors I'm forgetting all contribute. However, these factors are common in many other African nations, so why does Kenya in particular stand out? That probably has to do with the fact that excellence tends to build on itself and it has a snowballing effect: the more success and the more great runners there are from Kenya, the more the Kenyan running culture grows (more role models, etc.).

I would have liked to see the author at least come to some conclusions though, even though there really is no definitive answer. It would have been nice, I think, for him to include a final conclusion statement where he tells us what he really thinks the "secret" is (even if the secret is that there is no secret). He certainly does that throughout the book, but I thought it would have been better addressed at the end.
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