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Summary

Full of incredible characters, amazing athletic achievements, cutting-edge science, and, most of all, pure inspiration, Born to Run is an epic adventure that began with one simple question: Why does my foot hurt?

In search of an answer, Christopher McDougall sets off to find a tribe of the world's greatest distance runners and learn their secrets - and in the process shows us that everything we thought we knew about running is wrong.

Isolated by the most savage terrain in North America, the reclusive Tarahumara Indians of Mexico's deadly Copper Canyons are custodians of a lost art. For centuries they have practiced techniques that allow them to run hundreds of miles without rest and chase down anything from a deer to an Olympic marathoner while enjoying every mile of it. Their superhuman talent is matched by uncanny health and serenity, leaving the Tarahumara immune to the diseases and strife that plague modern existence.

With the help of Caballo Blanco, a mysterious loner who lives among the tribe, the author was able not only to uncover the secrets of the Tarahumara but also to find his own inner ultra-athlete, as he trained for the challenge of a lifetime: a 50-mile race through the heart of Tarahumara country pitting the tribe against an odd band of Americans, including a star ultramarathoner, a beautiful young surfer, and a barefoot wonder. With a sharp wit and wild exuberance, McDougall takes us from the high-tech science labs at Harvard to the sun-baked valleys and freezing peaks across North America, where ever-growing numbers of ultra runners are pushing their bodies to the limit, and, finally, to the climactic race in the Copper Canyons.

Born to Run is that rare book that will not only engage your mind but inspire your body when you realize that the secret to happiness is right at your feet, and that you, indeed all of us, were born to run.

©2009 Christopher McDougall (P)2012 Audible Ltd

Critic reviews

"Hugely entertaining.... One of the most joyful and engaging books about running to appear for many years." ( Times)
"Equal parts quest, physiology treatise, and running history.... [McDougall] seeks to learn the secrets of the Tarahumara the old-fashioned way: He tracks them down....The climactic race reads like a sprint....It simply makes you want to run." ( Outside magazine)
A terrific ride, recommended for any athlete." ( Kirkus)

What listeners say about Born to Run

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Born to Run

The most inspirational book I have read or listened to in a long time. Makes you want to stop everything and go for a run.

23 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Great story, well written and read

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.

18 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

The most over rated book ever

Had seen and heard lots about this book in Bio's of runners and articles so thought it would be an education. I got totally sick of hearing "The Tarahumara" over and over again I couldn't wait for it to end.

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A great exploration

I read this book because I wanted to improve my own running, I am fascinated by outlying tribes hidden from the world, and I love reading about seemingly super-human abilities.



Born To Run tells the history of the Tarahumara tribe of super runners in northern Mexico. They are a secretive people who routinely run marathons back to back, before getting wildly drunk, before waking up and doing it all over again. They run because they love it, and I have a feeling that an average Tarahumara man or woman could probably run further and faster than 30 average non-Tarahumara men or women running in relay.



There was nothing in the book about Tarahumara genetic insights, so I am next off to Google to see if anyone has figured out the Tarahumara superhero secrets. There was some mention throughout the book of the Tarahumara diet, and I just purchased some Chia seeds online. I'm very interested in seeing them turn water into gel. How odd.



Born to Run told a captivating story and was very entertaining, and is well worth reading. This book made me want to run more, burn my running shoes, and live in the woods.



"If you don't think you were born to run, you're not only denying history; you're denying who you are."



I also learned that the average human has a longer stride than a horse. The human is a more efficient running machine than a horse, so if both were engines filled with the same amount of fuel, the human would go further. We out-horse the horse!

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • MR
  • 04-07-12

A must-read

a great book for anyone interested in running or training for any run from a 10km to a marathon and beyond (and you will learn all about how far beyond people go!)

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A beautiful book, beautifully read

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.

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Loved it

What can I add, other reviewers knew of or knew the runners here. Comparatively I just read this book. It was interesting, engaging, educational, I really hope this guy did his homework and has really delivered us the truth and I have no reason to doubt this. Its a easy listen but educational, what more can a reader want!

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Utter Rubbish

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

Less fluffing. A lot less back tracking. Keeping track of the utter rubbish the author spouts out

Has Born to Run put you off other books in this genre?

It's put me off trusting reviews

What didn’t you like about Fred Sanders’s performance?

Nothing

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Born to Run?

All of them

Any additional comments?

Author is a total hypocrite, pulling story's and myths and melding them into this drivel that the media hyped up. The author continuously backtracks on what he has said repeatedly but the story is so 'cut and paste' i doubt many have noticed.

Get it only if it is free and the end of the world is due

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Really enjoyable and inspiring listen

I found the book to be easy to listen to and found myself finishing it relatively quickly over a few drives on my way to work.



I do enjoy running but have never attempted a marathon and never even contemplated anything further! The author brings out the fun in running, exploring the motivations that drive people from various walks of life to regularly run distances that few of us "mortals" have ever attempted on foot.



The book inspired me to relax my running style a little and to try some lighter trainers (not quite "barefoot" but a lot less clunky than the normal structures running trainers I've gotten used to).

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Entertaining but sometimes seemed a bit phony..

I would not recommend this book to a friend. The author seemed to use poetic license to dramatize events which really didn't require embellishment. At times however he captures the spirit of the sport very beautifully. I have since read that some athletes who were characterised in the book later expressed their displeasure with the author's characterisation of them. Anyway, I will be feeling infinitely more guilty about my modern lazy lifestyle, and for that the author is to be commended!

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • G Jenson
  • 01-05-21

awesome

loved this book... great stories as well as interesting information. Didn't want it to end.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Neil
  • 14-01-20

Completely changed my thoughts on running!

I recently watched Chris’ TED talk, “Are we born to run?”, and immediately got hooked on his masterful way of storytelling. “Born to Run” was an even better experience and made me completely reconsider the way I think about running. I love the combination of sport science, anthropology, storytelling, good humour and compassion. Narration by Fred Sanders is excellent and keeps you hooked throughout the book.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Samantha Vosloo Harrison
  • 12-03-19

Inspirational!

This book kept me coming back for me and has changed me as an athlete. I would highly recommend it!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • maximilliano molina
  • 03-03-19

A must read for Runners

This is a must-read book for runners out there

Very interesting history and I'm sure you will get various insights out of this book.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jonas
  • 16-10-18

exceptional in every way

positively devoured this book. exceptionally written. amazing story. life changing revelations on what this body of mine can achieve.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Vishisht Badri Vishal
  • 08-07-18

Must read!! Loved the story!!

The narrator has done a really good job and I loved how it inspires us to run and the entire story is very captivating to listen to! Learnt a lot from this book.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Michael
  • 05-05-18

loved this book. great story and well told.

absolutely recommend this book - fantastic. it has heart, drama, soul and a beautiful message :)

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • nikhil vij
  • 28-11-17

A romantic book for runners

great book. author tries to play role of a scientific researcher as well which - to a scientific mind - looks very half baked. but nonetheless the story is extremely interesting and keeps you hooked till end. if you are even slightly interested in long distance running, you will love this book.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Chetan
  • 29-06-17

inspiring

loved it... want to run... if not as an ultra runner... atleast upto be a usual marthoner

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • smita somane
  • 03-12-16

Superb anthropological run motivational!

excellent narration.Very live at a time philosophical.Real research work on running.Boon to marathoners!
Explained barefoot tradition so well.