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Running with the Kenyans: Passion, Adventure, and the Secrets of the Fastest People on Earth

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  7,112 ratings  ·  568 reviews
“A dusty road stretches into the distance like a pencil line across the arid landscape. Lions, rhino, and buffalo roam the plains on either side. But I haven’t come to Kenya to spot wildlife. I’ve come to run.”
Whether running is your recreation, your religion, or just a spectator sport, Adharanand Finn’s incredible journey to the elite training camps of Kenya will capti
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published May 15th 2012 by Ballantine Books (first published 2010)
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Yoshi This is a bit late, but it is an adventure and has information throughout the building book, as he starts to discover the secrets to Kenyan running.
This is a bit late, but it is an adventure and has information throughout the building book, as he starts to discover the secrets to Kenyan running.

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Average rating 3.92  · 
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 ·  7,112 ratings  ·  568 reviews

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Jul 03, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: bechdel_test_no, 2012
Finn uproots his (extremely supportive) wife and kids from their home in England and moves to Kenya to...well, it's not totally clear. He wants to see if he can run better, even starting in midlife. And at least nominally, he wants to learn what makes Kenyans such good runners. So he goes to live in Kenya for a few months, and runs with some Kenyans.

And that's more or less my issue with the book, insofar as I have an issue. It isn't that Finn doesn't acknowledge his privilege. He does, sort of.
Cheyenne Blue
Jun 30, 2014 rated it liked it
I'm not quite sure what to make of this. It says it's the running secrets of the fastest people on earth. It says it's the memoir of someone who wanted to see how good a runner he could be. It's a travelogue of Kenya. Well, it's sort of all of those, but not really any of them.

For starters, there are no secrets revealed. It's all pretty obvious: Kenyans are fast because they run a lot as children, miles day in day out as part of their lives. They live and run at altitude. They eat a lot of carb
Emmy Hermina Nathasia
Feb 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I finished this in a day, like literally. This book is just, amazing. The author brought me into his journey to Kenya, where he lived there for six months to learn and train with Kenyan runners, and to find out what are the secrets to be the best runner in the world. The writing flows easily, the plot seamless, the stories affective. Non too melancholic, I did shed a tear or two reading the last chapter, highlighting his running goal; the Lewa Marathon. I urge runners to read this, I mean even I ...more
Jun 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: running-books
It's the most tantalizing title since Born to Run, and along the same lines: a Westerner, intent on learning the secrets of a culture truly "born to run," goes and lives among this foreign people temporarily, partly to see if some of their secret sauce can help his own running, but partly just to see, well, what it's like, and what that secret is. Along the way, he meets some true characters, subjects himself (and his family--in Finn's case, family includes three small children) to culture shock ...more
May 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Jeff by: Found it on the library shelves
I must confess the reason I loved reading this book is not that I'm a runner, a former runner, a fan of running, although the sport has been of interest for many years. And not because Finn has written an enjoyable, interesting, self-effacing journey-of-discovery tale filled with unique observations and fascinating facts; a good read, to be sure.

No, the main reason I loved this book is its portrayal and descriptions of Iten, the town on the Rift Valley Escarpment that is the main setting and a
Nov 23, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
If you're looking here for the secret of the Kenyan runner you may be disappointed. But if you are interested to see how some Kenyans, who are runners, live in a small community while training for the big win, then you may enjoy this book. Much like a voyeur, the reader is given a glimpse into life in Kenya for a runner while the author trains amongst them and attempts to tap into their secret for winning race after race after race. I presume it's a good gig for an author if you can get it so ku ...more
May 26, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, travel
Finn, and his wife and two children, move to Kenya so he can train for a marathon. What will he learn about running, and about Kenyan running culture? How fast will he get? This makes for a fun combination of a travel book and a running book.

I would have liked it more, though, if Finn had been a more serious runner, and didn't play stupid quite so much. For example, coming into it he claims to think that all Kenyan runners run barefoot all the time, which he would have seen was false from any p
Tiaan Stassen
Apr 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
A very enjoyable story in the life of. If you are looking for an in depth training analysis on how the kenyan's train, then this book is not for you. The book follows the story of a runner that moved to kenya to improve his marathon time, and by doing so, go's through a lot of up's and down's like all us runners so often do. The story was very enjoyable, and would recommend for any other runner out there. ...more
Gary Pitman
Feb 24, 2021 rated it really liked it
Spoiler the clue is in the title. It's a book about running the Kenyan way. Good book ...more
Brian Atkinson
Jul 25, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: running
A fun and interesting look at the Kenyans from an outsider’s perspective. If you are looking for an easy read about the subject, this is a good starting place for you. However, if you are looking for any details, training secrets, etc., you may be disappointed.
Jun 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
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.

Aug 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Last month I ran a big 15K near my hometown. It's a race that, despite taking place in a small city in the middle of nowhere (upstate NY), is locally notorious for being dominated by Kenyan runners every year. And during the last week, I've been watching East African runners consistently leading the pack of every distance race in the London Olympics. So when I spotted this book at the library, my curiosity was piqued: why are Kenyan runners so talented?

Having already read Christopher McDougall's
Jan 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a book about a white man who travels to Africa and whose goals do not include improving the lives of the people there. It is this absence of a savior-complex in the author that makes "Running with the Kenyans" an honest and refreshing read. Kenyans are so inherently good at running—at least in the eyes of the author Finn Adharanand—that even the most advanced technology in the world is not going to make them better. Unlike some white coaches before him, Finn goes to Iten, a small village ...more
Feb 12, 2019 rated it did not like it
This book was disappointing. I was searching for good running books but read the blurb and thought I would leave this one. However I came across the book in a $5 discount store so had to give it a try! I was excited at first to learn all about Kenyan running and the lifestyle of Kenyan athletes. However this wish was not satisfied. Instead the author is an unfit runner who decides to take a trip to Kenya and get faster (he is not up to Kenyan standards). Throughout the 300 pages of this novel th ...more
Mar 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
I'm not a runner (yet?), but I thought this was an excellent book. If it weren't for the Goodreads giveaways, I probably never would have picked up this book, assuming I wouldn't understand it. It's completely accessible, part non-fiction running book and part memoir.

I got so involved with the "characters" in the story that, for the first time ever, I excitedly read the Acknowledgements section to see what else was said about them.
Petra X is enjoying a road trip across the NE USA
Another book where the review has disappeared. Also the shelves and the rating. But the book was still there.... Who is fucking around with the database that this is happening? GR or Librarians or Amazon imports?

It was a long review too. But so long ago I doubt anyone would remember it. I certainly don't.
Jul 06, 2013 rated it liked it
I strongly suspect Finn's fruitless search for the secret of speed was really a front for doing his boyish running thing and getting a book out of it into the bargain. I'm not knocking it because it was an interesting read. I never sensed any depth in the relationships he made with Kenyans but I admired Brother Colm with his niche missionary activity. ...more
Jun 29, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Reviewed this for Amazon's vine voices program. I didn't care for this book at all. Poorly put together, pointless, and there wasn't much interesting to report. Got the feeling the author himself wasn't sure what he was doing in Kenya or why he was writing a book about it. ...more
L.A. Starks
Nov 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book will only interest runners, but every runner should read it to understand why the Kenyans dominate running.
Dec 15, 2019 rated it liked it
It's pretty easy to write a book with runners as your target audience. We'll pretty much eat up anything that's competently written and which has some decent information about the topic of running. And that's pretty much what you get here. An above-average runner uproots his family to go to Kenya in an effort to find out why these Kenyans are so damn quick over long distances. It's really more of a diary/travelogue of his time there and less a scientific examination of the running elite, althoug ...more
Dec 20, 2020 rated it liked it
Two and a half stars, but I rounded up to three.

I was expecting the author to dig a little more deeply into answering his questions (and mine) about what makes Kenyans such outstanding runners. At one point he probes into research others have already done to debunk the idea that they are genetically predisposed to dominating the sport, thank goodness. The secret seems to be a combination of factors, including diet, the childhood propensity to running often and running long distances (yes, withou
Sep 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book!! Warning: I am an avid runner so this review will come with some biases, ok, a lot of biases haha.

I really enjoyed Finn's journey into the "I want to run like a Kenyan" approach after having tasted some success on his own. He did what many of us runners do when we discover a new trend, technique, etc...he went all in. I too took part in the 'Born to Run' boom by buying some Vibrams and attempting to run barefoot. It did not quite work out for me, but I became mindful
Jacques Bezuidenhout
Feb 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Well that was surprisingly enjoyable.

The theories and ideas in Born to run is by now a bit aged, and people got over the hype.
But listening to this book, it felt like they broached the subject in a more believable way.
The setting and story also felt more real and personal than what one got from Born to run.

Hard to point out anything amazing in this book. It simply kept me captivated with the story.
It probably contributed that I was running a marathon whilst listening to the whole build-up for Fi
Running with the Kenyans takes us on a great journey to Iten, Kenya, to the beating heart of the running community in the world. It is always a beautiful experience to meet new people and I really enjoyed meeting all the great people throughout this fascinating journey. What stays with the reader after finishing the book is the lesson that, in all aspects of life, no matter how long and hard the path looks, it will always be worth it to push ourselves and try to finish the run with a smile on.
Dec 15, 2019 rated it liked it
In Running With the Kenyans, Finn attempts to answer why Kenyans are so fast. If he can figure out the answer, perhaps he will also run faster. So he takes his wife and two daughters to Kenya so that he can run with Kenyans. Finn considers several explanations about why Kenyans are fast—foot fall, shoes, diet, high altitude, early specialization, culture, incentives (economic desperation), absence of choice, community, rest. Maybe each factor plays its own role. But to be honest, I don’t really ...more
May 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Pretty quick read but a good one. It was fun to immerse in the life of an area almost completely devoted to running and training. Written in a way that gets a little tiresome (tons of name dropping but they all have to be explained- all really interesting and cool but it gets a little old), but fast paced (pun intended) and interesting. Certainly gives one motivation.
Gareth Kyle
Jan 12, 2020 rated it liked it
A must read for all runner and sports enthusiasts who want a detailed look inside the mysterious world of running in Kenya and the dominant performances athletes produce. Really well written and put together and I look forward to reading note from this author 😁❤🏃‍♂️🏃‍♂️🏃‍♂️
May 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am a runner, so slightly biased, but I really enjoyed this book. Lots of interesting insights, and I gained a lot of respect for the Kenyan runners whilst reading this. Recommended.
Devin Williams
Jun 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
audiobook while running
Patrick Moran
May 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Finn’s best book, which is saying something. His Ultra and Japan books were both phenomenal, but this book goes so in depth into the culture and passion for the sport in Kenya. Highly recommend for any distance runner.
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Adharanand Finn is the author of Running with the Kenyans, which was the Sunday Times Sports Book of the Year, won Best New Writer at the British Sports Book Awards, and shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book Award. He is an editor at the Guardian and a freelance journalist. He is also a former junior cross-country runner and now competes for Torbay AC in Devon, where he and his family usual ...more

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