There's a lot going on here. It's a book about running that weaves a thrilling story of an adventure race in the Copper Canyons in Mexico, the culture, attitude and history of long distance running, the science behind endurance running, the mystery of a hidden culture of Mexican Indian runners and their unlikely US Ambassador and - most importantly - the author's journey into, and successfully out the other side of the world of adventure racing.
McDougal's skill is to make the characters larger than life, make his own story relevant and interesting and keep the narrative from getting to bogged down in history, science, statistics or geography.
It's an adventure story, a travelog, an inspirational tale, an informative journal and a very funny and memorable story. The narration is first class as well, keeping the wit dry and the pace just enough to keep your breath.
With the sad loss of Caballo Blanco earlier this year "Born to Run" now takes on an added poignancy.
For a book about a bunch of misfits running in the wilderness it is remarkably gripping and is so well written that I felt I knew all the characters. So much so that when I met, and ran with, Barefoot Ted I spoke to him as if he was an old friend I hadn't seen for years.
I will also add that it is worth buying just for the pronunciations.