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Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  143,958 ratings  ·  12,844 reviews
Full of incredible characters, amazing athletic achievements, cutting-edge science, and, most of all, pure inspiration, Born to Run is an epic adventure that began with one simple question: Why does my foot hurt? In search of an answer, Christopher McDougall sets off to find a tribe of the world’s greatest distance runners and learn their secrets, and in the process shows ...more
Hardcover, 287 pages
Published May 5th 2009 by Knopf (first published April 23rd 2009)
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Juli Hoffman This is as much a memoir as it is a story about running. I am not a runner and yet I enjoyed it very much. I would recommend reading this for what it…moreThis is as much a memoir as it is a story about running. I am not a runner and yet I enjoyed it very much. I would recommend reading this for what it is, however if you are looking for a step-by-step how to guide, this may not be the book you're looking for. It doesn't go into detailed how to methods. It does tell the amazing stories of some fascinating ultra marathon runners. I'd say this book is more inspirational than instructional. (less)
Woman In Gold Well, I suppose it would depend upon the format you pick up. The hardcover is 287 pages. The paperback version is 304 pages and if you have an eBook,…moreWell, I suppose it would depend upon the format you pick up. The hardcover is 287 pages. The paperback version is 304 pages and if you have an eBook, it will just depend on how large you can make the font.(less)

Community Reviews

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4.28  · 
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 ·  143,958 ratings  ·  12,844 reviews

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Sep 30, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, non-fiction
Let me begin this review by saying that I am not, and never have been, a runner. Despite that fact, I was surprisingly fascinated by Chrisopher McDougall's account of how his desire to run without pain started him on a quest that led him both deep into Mexico's remote Copper Canyons and human evolutionary past.

Born to Run begins as an adventure story. While trying to figure out how to get his own foot to stop hurting, he saw an article about a tribe of Mexican Indians called the Tarahumara. Thes
Dec 06, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
I realise I'm in minority here but I really didn't enjoy this book at all. As a result of all the rave reviews I bought a copy for both myself and a friend - we were both hugely disappointed.

The author, Christopher McDougall, is an American magazine correspondent and this perhaps goes someway to explain a lot of what I didn't like about the book. To begin with, it is written in a totally 'omniscient' manner, ie McDougall can see inside everyone's head. This is excessive, continuous, and extends
Apr 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
So I picked this book up, thinking it would be a cool story about this lost tribe of distance runners -- which it was -- but I got soooo much more than I bargained for.

Yes, I did learn about the Tarahumara tribe, but I also learned about the biomechanics of running and how shoe manufacturers disregard runner safety in preference of turning a profit, ultramarathons and the hardcore runners who participate in them, the lawless culture of Copper Canyon, the nearly lost techniques of persistence hun
Feb 10, 2011 rated it liked it
With its excessive hyperbole, convenient omissions, misleading statistics, logical inconsistencies and plain old errors, I stopped thinking about this book as actual journalism after fifty pages. Trying to read it as a novel wasn't that satisfying either because the book reads like several magazine pieces glued together rather than one continuous work. The personality profiles of Jenn and Billy and the screed against running shoes felt particularly extraneous. However, the book has a fun core of ...more
Books Ring Mah Bell
Jul 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, sports
Truly, I cannot recall the last time I read a book that I loved as much as this.

Should you think this book is for serious runners alone, please think again. I am not by any means a runner. I ran track in high school, but the runs I did were short, sweet, sprints. After high school, I had a difficult time finding 200 yard dashes to race in, so I did a few 5k's... I didn't love them much at all. There was no way I was going to win a 5k, not ever. The distance just sucked. (In retrospect, some trai
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Painful as it was, I stayed with this until slightly past the halfway mark. I kept hoping I might learn more about the Tarahumara people, but it was not to be. There's very little about the Tarahumara, and almost everything about a bunch of self-absorbed, obsessive long-distance runners. I have no patience with extreme athletes. They need to strive for some balance in their lives. The sport is not everything. I also got tired of the "gee golly wow ain't it all just lipsmackingly wild and amazing ...more
Apr 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
You don't stop running because you get old; you get old because you stop running.

After hearing my running friends rave about this book for years, I finally got around to reading it. And now I owe them an apology, because I had gotten so sick of being preached at about chia seeds and running barefoot and vegetarianism and ultramarathons that I have been quietly rolling my eyes whenever anyone mentioned this friggin book.

But once I got into the story, all of my eye rolls stopped. Sure, there were
Nicholas Sparks
May 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This has to be one of my favorite books of the last few years. It's non-fiction, but it reads like a thrilling adventure, complete with a high-octane conclusion, all with a bit of science thrown in. It's a fantastic look at the sport of ultra-distance running, but trust me when I say that once you start reading, it's impossible to put down.
Sep 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to David by: Afiq Asyran
Shelves: audiobook, nonfiction
While I am not a runner, I found this book to be quite engaging. I can recommend it to anyone interested in running, indigenous peoples, or wacky characters!

This book is about long-distance races over rugged, desert terrain. It is about a hidden tribe, the Tarahumara, who live in the Copper Canyone area of the Sierra Madre, a remote, desert region in Mexico. The tribe is very wary of strangers. They speak their own native language. They live in a rugged, wild country that takes days to reach. Ju
May 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
What a weird, wonderful (true!) story.

Upon finishing this, I spent the better part of the day on YouTube, looking for any additional information I could find on the Tarahumara tribe, chia seeds, Caballo Blanco, Scott Jurek, Ann Trason, the Leadville Trail Race, running barefoot, persistence hunting, even the author Christopher McDougall. It was everything I didn't know I needed to know about ultra-running, why we run, and the legends in the sport. The novel takes the reader on a wild and random
Tanja Berg
Nov 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Nearly five years ago I started walking. As I got stronger, I progressed to running. Then came the winter of 2015-2016 when I had a cough that would not let up and consecutive colds. Plus I had a young dog. I went back to walking. Although my hikes were long, it wasn't quite the same and I started to regain the weight I had lost. Two months ago, I decided that enough was enough. If I wanted to avoid buying bigger clothes I would have to do something. Either run and see if that helps, or if that ...more
Suanne Laqueur
Mar 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-five-stars
I am not a runner. I hate to run. I would rather die than run. I have zero interest in ever becoming a runner. Yet I've read this book three times. It's about so much more than running. It's interesting as hell, funny as fuck, engrossing, fascinating... I will read it again. You could say I will go running back to it. Many times.
Megan Baxter
Dec 13, 2012 rated it liked it
Born To Run was okay. It's not great, it's not stellar, it's not maddening. It's okay. The writing is serviceable. The research is a little spotty, but okay for the type of book this is. It made me want to try running, just a little. That's definitely saying something.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook
Apr 14, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: running
A compelling read, brilliant story and fascinating subject matter, but somehow falls short of being a great book.

I'm not sure where it goes wrong exactly, but for me it might have been the number of characters which I struggled to keep track of, the slightly preachy tone of the anti-shoe chapters (persuasive though they are) or the negative coverage of apparently less worthy ultra runners who dared to accept sponsorship or promote their own books. None of these, or other faults, completely spoil
La Petite Américaine
Jan 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
"Just move your legs. Because if you don't think you were born to run, you're not only denying history. You're denying who you are." --Born to Run.

This book is really, really simple. If you're not a runner, the book will entertain you like the best of any of Krakauer's stories. If you do run, it will change your life. Actually, if you don't run and this book doesn't change your life, something is wrong with you.

The "I can't run because of my knee/back/feet/Achilles tendons/whatever you-fill-in
Kwesi 章英狮
I'm not born to be a runner, but God given us something to run. Since elementary or let me say since the day I was born, I'm not really into running. I'm weak physically but I can do things simple and I can play table tennis, more than that, I'm like a weakling of our generation. I always ask myself, what does it feels to be running in a field or grass and flowers or in a place where orange sand, cactus and animals that spits poison can be found? Reading books was like running, it was like lifti ...more
George K.
May 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Τα τελευταία έξι χρόνια (ουσιαστικά από τότε που τελείωσα το Λύκειο δηλαδή) τρέχω σε σταθερή βάση, τουλάχιστον τέσσερις φορές την εβδομάδα. Και όταν λέω τρέχω, δεν εννοώ το χαλαρό τζόκινγκ, αλλά κανονικό τρέξιμο, δεκάδες χιλιόμετρα τη εβδομάδα, με σχετικά καλές ταχύτητες. Βέβαια δεν έχω τρέξει σε μαραθώνιο ακόμα και η μεγαλύτερη απόσταση που έχω διανύσει σε μια μέρα τρέχοντας είναι κάπου στα δεκαπέντε χιλιόμετρα, αν θυμάμαι καλά. Λοιπόν, το τρομερό βιβλίο του ΜακΝτούγκαλ με έκανε να πάρω αμέσως ...more
Nov 23, 2010 rated it did not like it
Oh man, did this book stink. In the words of Eric Cartman, "Goddamn hippies!" This book was a weird mixup of topics: Mexican-Indian runners, American ultrarunners, humans evolution is based on running, running shoes are bad for you, salad for breakfast is the way to go, Nike is evil, everything in life would be better if we all ran way more, etc... You get the idea. I think I would have liked this book if it had been an history of the Mexican tribal runners. Instead McDougall makes an effort to ...more
Andy Miller
Oct 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
My only complaint was that the book was too short, or that it was so interesting and well written that I read it too fast or that I liked the characters so much that I wanted to go out for a run and have a beer with them

Book is written by a runner whose legs are beat up and told he shouldn't run anymore. He researchs alternatives and learns about the Tahahumara Indians who live in the remote and inaccessible copper canyon in Mexico.

One of my favorite chapters was about the year a few of the Taha
Katerina Charisi
Jan 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Συνήθως διαβάζουμε βιβλία που ανταποκρίνονται στα ενδιαφέροντά μας, ή και κατά κάποιον τρόπο στο γενικότερο χαρακτήρα μας και στην αντίληψή μας για τη ζωή. Θεωρώ εξαιρετικά απίθανο να διαβάσω κάτι που δε με ενδιαφέρει ΚΑΘΟΛΟΥ, όπως η ιχθυοκαλλιέργεια ξερωγώ (ή το τρέξιμο). Όμως κάποια στιγμή είχα διαβάσει κάτι πολύ ενδιαφέρον σε ένα βιβλίο: Ο συγγραφέας - που στο βιβλίο του μιλούσε για διάφορους τρόπους βελτίωσης της γραφής - ανέφερε ότι κάποτε διάβασε ένα βιβλίο με θέμα την εκτροφή πουλερικών. ...more
Thomas Strömquist
Nov 28, 2015 marked it as dnf
DNF at about 10 %

I'm actually happy to finally giving in to the nagging and trying this book. Because, really, who does not enjoy being able to honestly say "told you so" once in a while?

McDougall is a snake oil salesman, with all the expressions and vocabulary of his trade. I did endure a minute or so of one of his "lectures" on YouTube and boy did his writing fall right into place!

Uninformed, argumentative and unscientific bull about the simple task if running. My fear is that he hurt people
Laura Avellaneda-Cruz
Jun 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
Written in 2015:

I read and wrote the review below in 2012. Since then, I've given it some more thought and had a few years now of running in huaraches (when trail conditions permit). My personal, anecdotal experience is that huaraches do make my recurrent ankle pain way less of a problem, and it just feels good. But I wear trails shoes when the trails have lots of little rocks.

Also, I am still --and now, more -- annoyed at how little depth we got on the individual people of the Rarámuri, and h
Feb 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Runners with frequent injuries
Born to Run is one of the most compelling books I've read in the last few years. And without a doubt, chapter 28 is THE most compelling 30 pages of non-fiction I've read in 8 years.

I'm not a runner. But reading this book dumped the same endorphins into my veins that marathoners get at mile 24, leaving me with a runner's 'high.' It also left me with a nasty distaste of athletic shoe companies for wielding the biggest scam in the market bonanza of athletic shoe sales since Nike glued rubber and fo
Apr 03, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, sports
McDougall is a journalist, a former war correspondent and current feature writer on extreme sports, like ultra-marathons. Born to Run has the virtues and faults of feature magazine writing, particularly when articles are either exploded to book length or several with thematic links are knitted together to comprise a single book. The book is by turns fascinating and aggravating. Part of the problem is McDougall’s tendency to hyperbole, which given the dramatic nature of the potential consequences ...more
Heidi The Reader
My running club recommended this read and I'm so glad that they did. It was informative, entertaining, and inspirational. Not only did it make me want to be a better runner, Born to Run left me with the feeling that it is mankind's destiny to be runners.

Some bits that I want to remember:
The author was getting running lessons from a mysterious ultra marathon runner in Mexico: "Think easy, light, smooth, and fast. You start with easy, because if that's all you get, that's not so bad. Then work on
Review of the audiobook narrated by Fred Sanders.

Running has been a constant and positive part of my life for more than 10 years now, so much so that I'm surprised I've never actually read a book about running. This book is for anyone truly serious about running or interested in the science of running. We are given a brief history of ultra running and the genesis of the running shoe industry along with an anthropological analysis of why humans are genetically inclined to run long distances. I wa
Mar 25, 2010 rated it it was ok
Interesting, but ultimately unsatisfying. The author writes from a "seller" perspective--he's trying to drum up business for his writing. There were several points in the book where I was completely convinced he was going to tell me to purchase Tahitian Noni drinks, or other nonsense.

The story felt very sensationalized and pick-and-choose for the points that will help the book. Yes, he gave us several examples, but many times the examples seemed contradictory--the Tarahumara eat only a diet of
Jun 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This book was so awesome that it almost made me want look at running as something other than torture, and then once I could do that, to start running for fun. Almost.

There are a lot of derails (or seeming derails) in this book. So the continuity of the story gets lost semi-regularly. However, the derails are always interesting material, and almost always tie back into the overarching story really well in the end.
Nov 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
My four-star rating is actually a 7 on a 10-point scale, which is the composite score from my three ratings of it, my rating as an aspiring runner, its rating as a story, and its rating as journalism/non-fiction.

As a runner, I give this book a solid 10. By the end of it I was so inspired about running that I wanted to just go and run 50 miles right out the gate. I'm not even kidding (however, I thought better of that and decided to stick to my 3-mile jaunts). So, way to be super inspiring, Born
Nov 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
This reminded me of one of those great human interest stories you might have stumbled upon in Sports Illustrated back in its heyday. The personalities were interesting, the pace was good, and the fact that it’s a fringe sport made it all the more fascinating. Hundred mile ultras at altitude are bound to attract an odd cast of characters. To the preternaturally persistent nut cases on the US side add a remote tribe of corn beer-quaffing, peace-loving, super runners from the Copper Canyons of Mexi ...more
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Christopher McDougall is an American author and journalist best known for his 2009 best-selling book Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen. He has also written for Esquire, The New York Times Magazine, Outside, Men's Journal, and New York, and was a contributing editor for Men's Health.

McDougall is a 1985 graduate of Harvard University. He spent
“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up, it knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn't matter whether you're the lion or a gazelle-when the sun comes up, you'd better be running.” 565 likes
“You don't stop running because you get old, you get old because you stop running.” 193 likes
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