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Summary

A compulsively listenable, remarkably candid memoir from world-class ultramarathon runner Charlie Engle chronicling his globe-spanning races, his record-breaking run across the Sahara Desert, and how running helped him overcome drug addiction and an unjust stint in federal prison.

After a decade-long addiction to crack cocaine and alcohol, Charlie Engle hit bottom with a near-fatal six-day binge that ended in a hail of bullets. As Engle got sober, he turned to running, which became his lifeline, his pastime, and his salvation. He began with marathons, and when marathons weren't far enough he began to take on ultramarathons, races that went for 35, 50, and sometimes hundreds of miles, traveling to some of the most unforgiving places on earth to race. The Matt Damon-produced documentary Running the Sahara followed Engle as he led a team on a harrowing, record-breaking 4,500 mile run across the Sahara Desert, which helped raise millions of dollars for charity.

Charlie's growing notoriety led to an investigation and a subsequent unjust conviction for mortgage fraud. Engle would spend 16 months in federal prison in Beckley, West Virginia. While in jail he pounded the small prison track, running endlessly in circles. Soon his fellow inmates were joining him, struggling to keep their spirits up in dehumanizing circumstances.

In Running Man, Charlie Engle tells the gripping, surprising, funny, emotional, and inspiring story of his life, detailing his setbacks and struggles - from coping with addiction to serving time in prison - and how he blazed a path to freedom by putting one foot in front of the other. This is a propulsive, raw, and triumphant story about finding the threshold of human endurance - and transcending it.

©2016 Charlie Engle (P)2016 Simon & Schuster

What members say

Average customer ratings

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Brilliant!

Much more than simply a book about running. an Incredible human being...... telling a fascinating story. Very well narrated.....you won't put headphones down.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Inspiring

Inspiring story from a man who has lived life to the full... I'm now going out for a run. Brilliant.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Brilliant

Great biography; engaging, honest and inspiring. Just waiting to be made into a film. Highly recommended.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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An Inspiring book

This isn't a book that's an easy listen, but well worth it. He has had a complex life so far, having not known anything about Charlie before starting, the odd google search was useful throughout for me. It was gripping, gruelling and challenging funny at times and raw at others...brutally honest about addiction and his flaws and thoughts on life. Made me want to get some running shoes...

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great story of a colourful life

Thoroughly enjoyed listening to a colourful life. As a runner's book, maybe others focus more on the challenges of running whereas this book covers his life, addictions and running. Enjoyed it...

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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fun to listen to, I highly recommend

I enjoyed this book. I don't like running or drinking but it was really fun to listen to. well written and read.

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Great Book!!!

What a book! loved it, this man has had one hell of a life story good and bad and his determination for running is inspiring narrating was good and clear. This is defiantly a book everyone should read whether you are a runner or not.

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Absolutely Superb!!

Loved this book from start to finish. Best book I have listened to yet! I had never heard of Charlie before and just stumbled across this on Audible and decided to give it a try. Finished it in a few days! I couldn't wait to get back in the car to start listening again and was gutted when it finished!

I have also recommended to friends who loved it just as much as I did!

Highly recommended!

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Outstanding

Whether you are a runner or not, you will be inspired by this incredible memoir. Charting the life of the author from childhood through adventures, highs and devastating lows this is just a brilliant listen. And it's superbly read by the author in a fantastic, gentle North Carolina drawl! Cannot recommend this highly enough.

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Phenomenal!

I absolutely loved this book! It's combination of raw honesty and a truly inspiring story of rising up against adversity and achieving the seemingly impossible makes this unmissable!
The fact that this story is read by the author makes it even better.
I listened to this through many a tough trail run and was so absorbed in this inspiring story that the miles seemed to fly by!
Unmissable!

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  • Darren Christensen
  • 14-04-17

one of the best

I don't write it enough reviews but I couldn't help not this one. this is an amazing book a true of Overcomers manual.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Ric Walton
  • 22-03-17

unexpectedly excellent book

I didn't expect much from this. I loved Running the Sahara so I gave this book a shot. It is an excellent autobiography and an excellent running book.
Frankly the addiction portion was difficult to get through because of the bad life choices that were made, but it made the contrasting portion so poignant.
I highly recommend this book !

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Gillian
  • 09-11-16

Fantastic, But One Tiiiiny Thing--

Talk about a man on a mission! Plus, this has got to be one of the most hardcore memoirs of addictions' strangleholds on a human being. Charlie Engle has been in the dust, mud, and mire in the hell of untold demons.
Well, actually, here he tells you, and if you ever thought there was an ounce of romance in the experience of addiction, no, you'll never see that driven creative again. Here there is only pain and misery and Engle overcomes almost insurmountable odds to regain his life.
He is an extraordinary man, and you'll be blown away by the challenges he undertakes, the amazing adventures he has in pushing himself to the limits, in his truly excellent friendships, everything.
My only problem with "Running Man" is that he sometimes comes off as a "dry drunk", someone in dire need of A Meeting. He drives himself, drives others, with such a lack of consideration that it's sometimes mind-blowing: Give people a break; let them be human. And he constantly bemoans the fact that he's, "not there" for the people he loves. He's either an addict, or somewhere doing a race. When he's in prison and his family desperately needs him, you think, "Ah, he's finally getting it. Family is where it's at! Love is what matters." But no. Then his mother needs him desperately, and he has to say, "Uhm... Wish I could be there, but I kinda signed up for a race..."
Still and all, this is an enormously engaging memoir, fraught with highs and lows, a journey of a lifetime!

12 of 14 people found this review helpful

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  • Daniel
  • 22-09-16

Psychotic-Narcissistic-Thriller Adventure!

What? I'm the only 2nd person to review this book? It's a must read! I actually listened to it twice.

I've listened to a lot of memoirs but they are usually by politicians heavily edited by a government first.

This is an awesome adventure story!

The first time I listened to it, I thought it was so dam good I had to listen to it again...

It was then that I heard the layers of dysfunction bleed thru. This guy tries to convince us that he has learned about life by admitting his down falls and failings thru his experience of life. Yet, he seems to continue to think that he is always right but has learned to say sorry when wrong or (perceived wrong). Admittedly, his main means of therapy consists of 12 steps; a great starting place. But it's obvious that he has darker issues never really dealt with. Part of the reason why I enjoyed this book so much.

His message of truly learning life thru pain and fear is very poignant. I especially enjoyed/cringed how he verbally abuses others in his adventures to get this message across; very passive aggressive of him. But he sugar coats all of this with his outreach to humanity.

No tongue in cheek. This is a great book on so many dysfunctional/psychological levels. Plus, it's an incredible adventure book. I can't believe more people haven't listened to it.


11 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • Patrick
  • 17-09-16

One of the finest memoirs I have experienced.

This is a remarkably honest book about the turmoil of addiction and recovery, the joys of adventure and finally steadfastness in the face of deep injustice. A brilliant mix of A Million Little Pieces and Ultramarathon Man with a tiny dash of The Shawshank Redemption. The author writes and narrates well. Very highly recommended.

My hobby is long distance trail running and I've been aware of Mr. Engle for a while now, having watched and enjoyed the Running The Sahara documentary. Like many runners I was shocked by the legal issue he faced in the time since. That shock soon gave way to outrage - the New York Time's description of the Federal Agent's initial impetus is truly disturbing. If you have any interest in recovery or running or prison or simply well written memoirs - then take a chance with this one.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • C. Toering
  • 01-02-17

Human struggle super human triumph

Would you consider the audio edition of Running Man to be better than the print version?

I've heard Charlie Engle do a couple Podcast episodes with Rich Roll. He's well spoken and hearing him narrate his own story made it that much better. His delivery and timing are great and you get a sense that he's honest and sincere but doesn't take himself too seriously.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Running Man?

The entire story is memorable. It's a story of re-birth, of discovery and of finding ones-self. What's not to like? I think his honesty about addiction and recovery, about bad decisions and ultimately about making peace with what one can no longer control (i.e. the past, the government, the law) is a testament to a sober existence and really just living an epic life instead of just giving up.

Which scene was your favorite?

The moment when he was running to "get the poison out" and pushing himself till he basically gave out after having accidentally drunk some alcohol at a friends house was really well written. Really very descriptive of how I could see that event playing out in real time. The moment of realization and then just shrinking out the door without saying goodbye. Maybe it's because I can relate to how even in our most careful & obsessive moments, we still can't control everything. It's like, yup, that just happened. I don't like it, I didn't plan it or want it...It's a stark reality of living in a fallen state but trying to humbly live in submission to God.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Sure.

Any additional comments?

Listen to the book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Heidi
  • 22-04-17

Everyone needs to suffer

This was a fascinating book. Tons to think about and be thankful for! It's great

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Aziz Gazipura
  • 18-07-18

Superb!

A fascinating and inspiring story. I love the honesty and rawness of it all. Brought me to tears many times and has made me a better runner. Thank you Charlie.

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  • Jan-Bert
  • 17-07-18

Dan, dam, dam what a clifhanger

I want to know more.

I really liked this book, what a story, unbelievable, super!

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  • Chris R.
  • 12-07-18

Entertaining, aggravating, & inspiring, all in one

There are plenty of reviewers who were clearly thrilled by the ride, but I often found it difficult to tolerate the selfishness that bled through the whole of the story. Don't get me wrong, the story itself was entertaining and the feats of endurance that he accomplished were awe-inspiring. You can see the growth that did occur, from the emotionally damaged child turned adult addict, to the sober man who shifted from filling the void with alcohol and crack to filling it with running. Sadly, I kept hoping he would move past that neurotic need to complete painful endurance feats to feel whole, especially when he had kids who needed him. But I was never granted that satisfaction. Instead he continued to focus his life solely on one ultra endurance endeavor after another, leaving emotionally abandoned significant others and children to fend for themselves (until they were nearly adults at least). There was a glimmer of hope while he was in prison where he seemed to recognize the impact his choices have had on those that loved and needed him, but upon release he fell back into similar patterns. He does eventually begin to develop a seemingly positive relationship with his kids, and falls for a new girlfriend, but the story ends before seeing how those develop.

All-in-all, it was a well-told story and worth a listen (or read). There are many lessons to be learned from Charlie, and for that reason alone I'd recommend it. But I'd stop short of suggesting he is a role model. I know I wouldn't want my kids to see him as such.