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The Boy Who Runs: The Odyssey of Julius Achon

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  308 ratings  ·  63 reviews
In the tradition of Uzodinma Iweala's Beasts of No Nation by way of Christopher McDougall's Born to Run, this is the inspirational true story of the Ugandan boy soldier who became a world-renowned runner, then found his calling as director of a world-renowned African children's charity.

"Julius can't remember who first saw the men. He heard no warning sounds--no dog barking
Hardcover, 248 pages
Published August 16th 2016 by Ballantine Books
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Average rating 4.21  · 
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Justin Langlois
Oct 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Wow. Talk about an eye opening story. Julius Achon has lived one incredible life. It was an exercise in perspective to hear about this man's journey from Northern Uganda to the United States and back again. ...more
Wendy Chapman
Aug 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book. Really inspiring and shows that if you are determined and work at something hard enough your dreams will come true. Julius is so dedicated to his cause and the hardship he goes through himself but just bounces back.
Aug 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Biography #15 of my Library Biography.

Julius Achon's life story is simply inspiring. Here is a boy from war torn Uganda who is able to follow his dreams, make something of himself, and find a way to use his accomplishments to give back to his family and his community. To me Achon's life provides proof that you should follow your dreams - but to know when you need to use what you have learned along that journey to benefit you.

What is truly amazing, to me, is that Julius' real dream is to ride on
Dec 28, 2019 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
One of the reasons I write reviews in Goodreads is that I don't remember authors nor titles very well, mostly not the stories either. However, this book "The Boy who Runs; the odyssey of Julius Achon" which is about a boy from war torn Uganda and gets into the Olympics to run reminds me so much of a fictionalized story of Lucas Radebe ( whose title I don't remember) who came from the ghetto of Soweto, South Africa, to win in soccer Olympics. Lucas Radebe was held up by Nelsen Mandela as South Af ...more
Hannah H.
Jun 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book didn’t just give me a glance into the reality of childhood in Uganda, it opened wide the door and provided a wonderful, albeit very difficult, story or survival & love for one’s home. The lengths that Julian went to to protect, provide for, and love his family are incredible. I am so thankful to get a behind-the-scenes look at why this great athlete was so driven to run, and I respect him all the more for it. He could have been even better in terms of worldly success, but his heart was ...more
C.P. Cabaniss
Nov 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, reviewed
*I received a copy of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*

This was very informative and inspiring. There are so many things in my life that I take for granted and this gave me even more reason to be grateful.

The style of this worked really well. It was told more like a story than a textbook, but never felt like a novel. Everything was presented very well and sourced, so you know where it came from.

This book leaves me with the desire to help improve the lives of those
Maggie Dore
Sep 25, 2016 rated it liked it
I probably would not have picked this book out for myself if I went shopping for a book.
I read this book in class, and it was touching. I found it a bit of a long drag, but it wasn't so bad.
It was quite a formidable story, in the way that it was about "a boy who runs"..
I enjoyed it, but I wouldn't read it a second time.
Yvonne Reynolds
Jun 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Incredible story of a young man who grew up in Uganda, one you won't regret reading! ...more
Amir A.
Apr 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Three quarters of the way through The Boy Who Runs, it still felt like this would earn a 5-star rating and the top spot on my list of running books, superseding Charlie Engle's Running Man. John Brant is a master of prose and storytelling. His characterization of Julius Achon from boy to Olympian to struggling runner is brilliant, as are the vivid scenes with which he surrounds Achon all throughout those three phases. The excitement is unrelenting, as Brant knows how to plant seeds of uncertaint ...more
Adam Crane
Jan 01, 2018 rated it liked it
I read this because a woman in the writing group my wife belongs to is writing a children's book based on Julius Achon's story. Closely skimmed is probably more accurate. I found it more engrossing than expected for the Portland/Oregon/Nike Project connections. Of course the human interest angle is of note if you like your stories of Africa as first, bloody, grim and corrupt, and then, stage 2, inspiring.
If you're a recreational runner, you may find the esoteric details of training runs interes
Jun 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: africa, biography, uganda
Growing up in northern Uganda, Julius was one of a group of boys abducted by Kony’s forces and spent three months as part of the Lord’s Resistance Army. After escaping and making it back home, it wasn’t enough for him to be back in his village. When he heard about another Ugandan who had been an Olympic champion, Julius started to run. He became a world-class middle distance runner for several years. A twist of events introduced him to Jim Fee who encouraged him to start a health clinic in his ...more
Drake G
Jan 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The main character of "The boy Who Runs" is Julius Achon. Julius was very outgoing and determined when he knew he wanted to be a runner. The only problem is getting out of his little city in Uganda with no cars or way of anybody even knowing he was alive. He first started getting known around 1990.
I thought the hardest part in Julius Achon's life to overcome was before he decided to run he was captured by rebel soldiers so he could become one of them. Luckily, he had a chance to escape. We reall
Andy Sullivan
Jul 24, 2017 rated it it was ok
I saw this in Barnes & Noble. I thought "I run. I might like this". Truthfully, the first part was ok. Not great but okay. The second part, however, leads me to not in good conscience be able to recommend this book. The book went into great detail, which is good. The book was short, which was really good. It's nice to read new things. Sometimes you like it. Sometimes you don't. No harm, no foul. ...more
Wendi Klaiber
Nov 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Two of my favorite topics all wrapped up in one book...Uganda and Running! I thoroughly enjoyed the story of Julius Achon's life and how he persevered and overcame great difficulties. This is such an inspiring book. ...more
Aug 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Great story but a bit repetitive in the telling. Julius is an amazing man!
Fascinating biography of a Ugandan runner.
Melissa West
Nov 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Compelling story of success despite adversity, though a bit slow in places.
Mar 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
An interesting tale of a young man's profound challenges, deep humility and innate desire to provide more for others. ...more
Dec 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
About a guy born and raised in Uganda, Africa. He is abducted as a boy soldier for some BAD experiences. He escapes and after seeing a plane fly overhead asks his father how he could fly in an airplane. His father responds with that he could become a famous runner. So, that is what he does, he trains himself, win some local races and then moves onto bigger towns until he gets a scholarship!

Her gets noticed and invited to the United States to run in college. Two Olympics appearances, out of colle
Jun 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The story of Julius Achon is one that needs to be told. His story illustrates the reality of life in Uganda, the struggle of civil war, the possibility in hard work, and also the acceptance that sometimes things don’t work out how we’d like them to. If this story was fiction, it would have went so differently, but his story is more compelling than fiction. So often we get so wrapped up in first world, or localized problems, that we overlook what is happening in the broader world. Also, I love a ...more
Holly Copeland
Jan 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I recently had the incredible opportunity to volunteer alongside Julius and his foundation in Northern Uganda this past November. It's still hard for me to find the words to describe how incredible this experience was. Reading his book added another dimension to my love and gratitude for Julius and the incredible foundation he worked so hard to build. I still pinch myself that I got to see firsthand all the amazing work he's done for his community - and still continues to do! Julius's story is o ...more
Jaellayna Palmer
Jan 23, 2021 rated it really liked it
Great story well told. I had heard of Julius Achon and his success as a young runner from Uganda but frankly I had little knowledge about his journey from rural Uganda at a time of tremendous political upheaval and violence - as an elite young runner - eventually to the US - transition from runner to philanthropist. And so much more. I recommend this book as an intimate and detailed portrayal of a humble, noble man who gave back much more than he ever received - at least in material terms. Be pr ...more
Jonathan Johnson
Apr 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great book
This book touched so many cultures
The book touched on the culture of Uganda and tribal kidnappings and warfare
It touched on the culture of college athletics and the pressure coaches put on their athletes
It touched on the culture of Nike and its beloved Oregon project
and lastly, it touched on the non profit sector, especially in how it deals with villages in Africa
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in running, Africa, or not for profits
Izzy Macpherson
Dec 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Julius Achon is an inspiring individual. John Brant's novel details Achon's life which is full of obstacles unimaginable to a large portion of the world's population. The author's repeated breaks between thoughts make the story seem to fly by while still retaining emotion and critical specifics. This novel is a must-read for aspiring athletes, humanitarians, and anyone else interested in shrinking their sense of self-pity. ...more
Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Julius decided that he was going to get out of his village of Awake, he just didn't know how. He finally did through running. He sent back all his money to help save his family and a few others that he could. The story is just amazing, I read it in two sittings. The way heartbreak crushes, but he just keeps going. Trust me, you'll never complain about anything again after reading this. ...more
Jan 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book was heart-breaking at times, but other times it was full of hope and joy. The story of Julius Achon as an Olympic runner and his life before in Uganda and afterwards in the USA was told without any undue hype.
Did anybody make a movie about that?
May 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An inspirational read about two inspirational men and a country struggling to heal. An amazing way to learn something about the modern history of Uganda.
Stetson Steele
Jun 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What a remarkable story - loved it!
Parker Walion
Mar 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
i like running
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