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

4.30  ·  Rating details ·  195,053 ratings  ·  15,644 reviews
An epic adventure that began with one simple question: Why does my foot hurt?
Isolated by Mexico's deadly Copper Canyons, the blissful Tarahumara Indians have honed the ability to run hundreds of miles without rest or injury. In a riveting narrative, award-winning journalist and often-injured runner Christopher McDougall sets out to discover their secrets. In the process,
Kindle Edition, 306 pages
Published May 5th 2009 by Alfred A. 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)
Mihai Rosca Yes, it is. It's virtually a very beautiful story about life, values, commitment mixed with a theory of evolution…moreYes, it is. It's virtually a very beautiful story about life, values, commitment mixed with a theory of evolution(less)

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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
Sep 30, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jeanette (Ms. Feisty)
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
Books Ring Mah Bell
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
Nicholas Sparks
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. ...more
Nov 23, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sam Quixote
Nov 16, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Christopher McDougall hurt his legs running which sent him down a rabbit hole where he learned about ultrarunning (veeeeery long marathons), running barefoot and human physiology, and a mysterious tribe of Mexican running shamans called the Tarahumara. All of that information culminates in this book: Born to Run.

Born to Run is a compelling book about the amazing world of ultrarunning. It’s populated with a number of extraordinary individuals - Emil Zatopek, Ann Trason, Scott Jurek, Jenn “Mookie
David Rubenstein
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
Tanja Berg
Nov 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 03, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Always Pouting
Nov 27, 2022 rated it liked it
I have been trying to get better at running (trying being the operative word) and someone recommended this book when I was talking to them. The book definitely made me want to stick with running and made me think about how it can actually be kind of fun. I also keep straining my calf so I might try out minimalistic running shoes and see if that helps.

I did find the way running is framed as some sort of panacea for the worlds ills to be a bit much though. Also the style of writing is something t
Suanne Laqueur
Mar 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-nf-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. ...more
Apr 14, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Megan Baxter
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
Otis Chandler
Sep 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Fascinating tales of super runners, and some of the science of why some humans can do 100 mile running races, and even how we evolved from being a running race.

The book starts with an investigation of why "Up to eight out of every ten runners are hurt every year.", a notion that stands at odds with the fact that some people can run, and even compete in, races that are 26, 50, 100, and even 150 miles long. In particular, there is a race of people in Mexico, the Tarahumara who regularly do runs of
La Petite Américaine
"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
Laura Norton-Cruz
Jun 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Ryan Holiday
Jun 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have a bad habit where I put off reading a book if I hear it recommended too many times. It stems from being underwhelmed by the flavor of the week long read (normally The New Yorker) or whatever blogs seem to be passing around and splooging all over. In the case of Born to Run, I made a mistake and I wish I'd read it sooner. No question it had plenty of the cringe-worthy moments I was reticent about, but it's worth reading anyway. Like The Tiger by John Valliant, there is a shocking amount of ...more
Andy Miller
Oct 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 25, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Thomas Stroemquist
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
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 o
Feb 06, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Blondish And Bookish
Born To Run is a fascinating book. As always, I love books where the author presents new information in an engaging fashion!! The interwoven themes include:

1) The history of Ultra-Marathons and the Ultra-Runners who compete in them. Ultra-Marathons are any races longer than a regular marathon (just over 26 miles). Most of them are 50km, 100km, 50 miles, or 100 miles (although they can be much longer). The marathoners themselves are...insane—I mean, incredible, athletes. There's Ann, for example,
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
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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

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“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.” 636 likes
“You don't stop running because you get old, you get old because you stop running.” 230 likes
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