Christopher Rex's Reviews > Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen

Born to Run by Christopher McDougall
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's review
Jul 20, 2012

it was ok
Read in July, 2012

Maybe I heard too much "this book is so great" before I finally got around to reading it. It's hard to live up to too many "great" reviews. The reality, this book was OK, but far from the "epic" it was made out to be.

First and foremost, this book is not about the Tarahumara in any real sense. So, the subtitle of "A Hidden Tribe" is a bit deceptive. Sure, you meet some of the Tarahumara runners, but only in a very vague sense; you learn some Tarahumara history, but in an extremely vague sense. I was really disappointed that the author failed to explore this theme in any real way. I kept reading waiting for the history of these people, some in-depth explanation of why they ran so much in the first place. I finished the book feeling like I learned next-to-nothing about the Tarahumara other than the facts that they live in isolated canyons and can run really long distances for some reason.

What I did learn a lot about was the (rather boring) superathletes (westerners) the author chose to hang out with. Sorry, but these people were pretty dull - a 20-something party couple, a loudmouthed barefoot runner....boorrrring. Caballo Blanco was an interesting character, but I learned as much about him from the Boston Globe article after his death as I did from this book. These characters just didn't strike me as interesting in any real way. They run very far, very fast. Got it.

Finally, the author's "theory" that we are "born to run" (evolution) is not explored in any real sense. It's just thrown out there. It sounds cool and I like the idea, but it's not explored beyond a really surface encounter.

The book is easy to read and I recommend anyone w/ "runner injuries" to check it out as it may open your eyes. But, basically an extended magazine article would've sufficed if the author wasn't going to go into the historical-anthropological realities of the Tarahumara. He really failed in that aspect, which is too bad. I imagine his being a Journalist and not a Historian or Anthropologist played a part in that....the Western runners grant interviews and like to talk (about themselves), the Tarahumara seemingly do not. As such, the Journalist goes w/ the technique they know - interview and write. It's pretty good, but not great at all and really misses the most interesting element - the introverted running-inigmas, the Tarahumara

Good airplane material.
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