“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 captivate and inspire you. Part travelogue, part memoir, this mesmerizing quest to uncover the secrets of the world’s greatest runners - and put them to the test - combines practical advice, a fresh look at barefoot running, and hard-won spiritual insights.
As a boy growing up in the English countryside, Adharanand Finn was a natural runner. While other kids struggled, he breezed through schoolyard races, imagining he was one of his heroes: the Kenyan long-distance runners exploding into prominence as Olympic and world champions. But as he grew up, pursued a career in journalism, married and had children, those childhood dreams slipped away - until suddenly, in his mid-thirties, Finn realized he might have only one chance left to see how far his talents could take him.
Uprooting his family of five, including three small children, Finn traveled to Iten, a small, chaotic town in the Rift Valley province of Kenya - a mecca for long-distance runners thanks to its high altitude, endless running paths, and some of the top training schools in the world. Finn would run side by side with Olympic champions, young hopefuls, and barefoot schoolchildren... not to mention the exotic - and sometimes dangerous - wildlife for which Kenya is famous.
Here, too, he would meet a cast of colorful characters, including his unflappable guide, Godfrey Kiprotich, a former half marathon champion; Christopher Cheboiboch, one of the fastest men ever to run the New York City Marathon; and Japhet, a poor, bucktoothed boy with unsuspected reservoirs of courage and raw speed. Amid the daily challenges of training and of raising a family abroad, Finn would learn invaluable lessons about running - and about life.
©2012 Adharanand Finn (P)2012 Random House Audio
“Equal parts cultural examination, cult-of-running treatise, and poignant memoir, Running with the Kenyans thrives on a variety of levels. Like the skilled distance runner he is, Finn paces this book marvelously and then saves the best for the final kick. This book packs all the pleasure and satisfaction - and none of the ancillary pain - of a long training run.” (L. Jon Wertheim, senior editor, Sports Illustrated, and co-author of the New York Times best seller Scorecasting)
“Not everyone gets to heaven in their lifetime. Finn tried to run there, and succeeded. Running with the Kenyans is a great read.” (Bernd Heinrich, author of Why We Run)
“If you want to know the secrets of Kenyan runners, and have a rollicking adventure along the way, join Finn in his fascinating tale of what it is to go stride for stride with the fastest people on Earth.” (Neal Bascomb, author of The Perfect Mile)
My review might make you think Running With Kenyans was written for kids--if you don't have kids don't worry--the book is not a children's book. So please read on.
My son is a natural athlete loving all sports and in particular, he is an extraordinarily fast runner. He also is not a child who cares at all about Harry Potter. So mix those two things together and you have a mom trying to find a decent audio book on sports that is okay for an 8 year old, yet not poorly written (which many of the chapter books are--sorry but it's true). Somehow I got to Running With Kenyans in my search and I am very happy I did. Every night I read to the kids myself then put on an audio book for them to fall asleep. We also listen to audio books in the car sometimes. This book is read perfectly. The narration is top notch. The story unfolds slowly, and with an easy rhythm like that of the running he describes. I simply love his story and the way he told it and the way, in the end, John Lee narrrated it. I would end up lying down with kids and not leaving the room because I had to keep listening.
Usually when people say "a page turner" they mean intrigue and tension galore. With this book I wanted to hear what happened next but not in a stressful urgent way but because Adharanand's writing makes you feel like you are there with him. And that's a nice feeling. Like when you don't want to leave vacation. His curiosity is contagious and his self-reflection humorous and honest.
We have now listened to this book, frankly, if I say a number I am guessing. 5 times? When we've had a hard night, or life seems scary, my son picks this book over all others in our Audible for the soothing tale of learning how the Kenyans run, the people and this father, Adharanand Finn, on his own journey.
I focus mainly on History, Endurance Sports and Science/Speculative Fiction books.
it was great. John Lee, who I have listened to many times in the Peter Hamilton series really brings Finn to life. the accents and attitudes of the African runners made me feel like I knew them. Amazing. In many ways this book is less of a running book and more of a travel book. It gets you close to another culture and does so in a non-judgmental way based on curiosity. I was sad to see it end.
Each part was interesting, I found the sections where Finn was just trying to figure out what was going on as he settled into the village of Etan fascinating. These are gentle, quiet giving, people and although Finn brought his Western sensibilities with him, he integrated into the Kenyan way of life and way of thinking in a remarkable way.
Honestly his running partners. Found these people to be very happy, without having or wanting many possessions. It came out in the characterizations and interpretation by Lee. But Finn is the most intriguing of all, his curiosity is infectious.
No I rarely do that...
Highly recommend to any runner especially if you like Born to Run. I would also recommend it to any emerging athlete, or traveler. Just a great, simple, heartwarming book.
Van Buren MI
I enjoyed all aspects of this book! The technical details around running form and gear, the social aspects of western versus African runners and Finn's journey make the entire book worth a second listen.
As a runner I cannot say any one thing hit me as the best thing about the book. I took different things away from it and even generated conversation with friend (runners and non-runners) based on the information.
John Lee is excellent at expressing what the author is trying to convey. I often found myself thinking of John Lee's voice as Finn's. I am sure the next book I listen to featuring John Lee will take some time re-adjust to him NOT being Finn.
Well done...interesting research into why Kenyan runners are so dominant in the U.S. and olympics. Perhaps could have gone a bit deeper into the Kenyan youth and how they are groomed. A pretty cool tale of a whitey making his way around Kenya - an experience all to itself, and not in a bad way. I was there in 1977 and am white, we simply stick out. But, the Kenyan people are inquisitive and hold none of the prejudices we Americans seem to have. Note: This book is not about white and black, the author is clearly colorblind. He keeps almost entirely to his quest to race and train with the Kenyans and the stories of the running races is fascinating.
Lively story about how a white guy moves to Africa to learn the ingredients of Kenyan running success. What makes this book especially interesting is that Finn actually lived and trained with the Kenyans. A terrific recap of his experiences as a vegetarian training for a marathon.
Life is a journey, enjoy it......because one day it will all end.
Maybe. I have listened to Born to Run 3 times. I like to listen to running book while I am out for my long runs. This one was a good story of running with Kenyan runners in their culture but not insperational. The tempo of the book was a bit slower and did not speak to me like a few other books. There was good vivid detail in the book which allowd me to see the book in my head while I ran.
Depends. If they want to delve directly into learning the Kenyan culture of running to "feel" what it is that makes them great then yes. If they are just looking for facts about what the Kenyans do right then no. The facts can be found elsewhere. This is a story of a guy visiting Kenya to run with the Kenyan's and understand what makes them great. But there really isn't a secret as to what that is. It's a combination of many things and I'm sure there are summaries online that explain everything revealed in this book in a simpler format. Since this is the authors experience in Kenya he tells side stories about his family and what life is like there. Often they aren't relevant to why I choose to read the book and in addition I found them boring. Frequently I found myself screaming in my head, "stop telling me all these meaningless details from your everyday life!". I didn't want to hear about him not getting offered tea when he visited someone. I did get some useful information from Finn's experience though. Since the information was surrounding a real story it may help me remember it in the proper context better. From that perspective the book was a success for me. Being able to see how facts connect to reality is the biggest value I got from this book.
No. He includes too many details of little importance to hold my attention. His story also starts too slow and strays from the central point of the book too much. I'd rather not go through that again.
Sort of. Too slow in my opinion with unnecessarily long pauses. Once he got talking about events it wasn't too bad. Most of all though the voice just didn't match how I imagined the character sounding. I know Finn is British but the narrator sounded like a grandfather too tired to walk rather than an above average marathoner in his 30's. And the English expressions in the tone of the narrator to me sounded awful sometimes. On several occasions at least I recall thinking that the author couldn't have actually used that tone matched to those expressions when he spoke to the Kenyans. I guess i could be wrong but that's what I thought of.
Yes. I'd like to have known more about his work with Runner's World magazine. Was he writing articles for them while he was in Kenya? What were his typical topics? Did he work much in Kenya? What kind of hours and schedules did he work? Did Runner's World pay for any of his travels and running stuff in Kenya? His occupation seems like such a useful piece of information yet Finn left out much of it's influence on his Kenya trip. Surely he was able to move to Kenya partly because Runner's World loved the idea. But he just leaves that whole piece rather empty.
Decent book overall. But it lacked many of the things that make a great book and great narration. I don't regret buying it but wish it were priced less considering it's quality.
This book was a great listen for my long weekend runs. The author explores the topic thoroughly, humorously, and warmly, while avoiding the "look at me, I'm oh so special" vibe that plagues baby-boomer memoirs.
The narrator was pitch-perfect, too.
So, the narrators voice took a little getting used to and the book had a slow start... But once I got into it I couldn't stop listening. It was a very intelligently written book about running and form. It was written from the point of view of a better than average runner, but not quite an elite runner.
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