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Summary

First and foremost a book about running, The Longest Race takes listeners alongside ultramarathoner Ed Ayres as he prepares for, runs, and finishes the JFK 50-mile race at a then record-breaking time for his age division - 60 and older. But for Ayres, this race was about more than just running, and the book also encompasses his musings and epiphanies along the way about possibilities for human achievement and the creation of a sustainable civilization.

Looking back over a lifetime of more than 50 years of long-distance running, Ayres realizes that his running has taught him important lessons about endurance, patience, and foresight. These qualities, also hallmarks of being human, likely helped humans to survive and thrive in the evolutionary race - and, Ayres posits, they are qualities absolutely necessary to building a sustainable society.

Grounding each step of his argument are vivid details from this particular race and other moments across his long running career. These experiences take us far beyond the sport, into new perspectives on our origins as future - and what it means to be a part of the human race. In the end, Ayres suggests, if we can recapture the running prowess and overall physical fitness of our "wild" ancient distance-hunting ancestors, we will also be equipped to keep our bodies, our society, and the entire world running long into the future.

©2012 Ed Ayres (P)2012 AudioGO

What listeners say about The Longest Race

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Too many detours

Good narration, however a lot of token anthropological musings which stops the listener from the actual story

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Very disappointing

Self absorbed delusions of grandeur. I couldn't get into this book at all. Comparing starting a race to childbirth was strange and if i read this in an actual book, I wouldn't buy it. Audiobook was free, but I still couldn't persevere farther than a few chapters.

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entertaining

Good story line Nd good sub plot / knowledge bombs. could have been a little more running less personal agenda.
but on the whole a worthwhile listen. recommended

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  • Mark
  • 29-10-12

Should have been called The Longest Book

What would have made The Longest Race better?

This book was exhausting to get through for a number of reasons. First off, I didn't know it was going to be an intertwined recounting of racing and a bunch of eco-metaphors and analogies. I'd consider myself a moderate environmentalist and open to new ideas, but the way he wove the stories of a 50 mile race, human physiology, and the health of the planet together was painful at times. I just wanted him to finish one coherent thought before departing off into explaining how the build up of lactic acid was like the build up of CO2 in our atmosphere. If he had only made a couple of departures onto a topic he feels passionately about I would have enjoyed it, but it was two to three departures in every chapter and by the end I was just begging for it to end.

The author and his audience would have been better served with a much shorter book on his running alone or his environmentalism alone. The way the two are brought together simply does not work for the reader. I wouldn't recommend this book to either the ultra-distance runner or the environmentalist.

What didn’t you like about Richard Waterhouse’s performance?

Not the right reader for this book. The author is writing about a race he did when he was 60 years old, but the author sounds like he's mid-30's at best. While some stories will carry this just fine, in this story the discontinuity of the young voice talking with the words of age and experience was uncomfortable and noticeable.

Any additional comments?

There are certainly valuable things I took away from this book, primarily regarding running physiology, pacing, and fueling on long runs, but with the challenges presented, I'd recommend looking elsewhere.

13 people found this helpful

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  • Kim
  • 14-07-13

Misleading

If you are looking for a chance to read about one man's liberal philosophy while he runs an ultramarathon you have chosen the correct book. I had to quit this one.

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  • C. Verner
  • 13-12-12

painful and preachy

What disappointed you about The Longest Race?

I've been reading a lot of running memoirs lately. Lot's of great ones out there. This is not one of them. Sorry.

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  • Utente anonimo
  • 28-10-20

I didn't buy a book on climate change. cool stuff

cool story way to go above 60 !!!! didn't need so much harp on climate change.
ghad so winny about oil and coal. this was suppose to be a running book ghadddddd. we would be riding horses if this author had his was yuck. chapter 6 is unbearable omg.

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  • John Aslanis
  • 23-09-21

Someone has unrealistic expectations

I found this audiobook as a suggestion and thought it may be a good listen. The writer is clearly intelligent and there is a story here to be shared.
What lost me was the exhaustive amount of comparisons and, at times, disconnected relations of his view of the workings of the world. I thought there would be some emphasis’ on running, which there is at times, but it’s not until the 9th chapter or so does the author confess he really doesn’t remember the JFK50 in any detail. I mean if it’s the entire back drop of the book and you take us through a dizzying myriad of stories about humanity why not lead with that.
I was astonished to hear that he really only remembers about 2-5 minutes of the overall run but added all this color and detail about other runners of the day.
It lost all credibility and I skipped over the middle sections of chapters.
So either I had or he had unrealistic expectations about what this book was really about.

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  • bakaDOH!
  • 29-07-21

Brilliant use of comparative metaphor with climate change

I was not expecting this book to be as deep as it is. This is a awesome use of ultra running as a metaphor for our exploration of natural resources and the toll that takes on our bodies and planet.

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  • Stacy DiBiaso
  • 02-04-21

Not what I expected

Maybe it was how this book was narrated, but I just couldn’t get into it. It felt very choppy—going from the run and then discussing aspects of the human condition and change and historical events that (maybe) predicted or (maybe) were the result of the changes the author described. The connections and conclusions seemed forced at times.

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  • Hillary Dolinsky
  • 04-03-21

Required reading for JFK50 miler participants!

This has everything I love about running memoirs - a runner's personal journey through the sport, an incredibly detailed historical and course account of a specific goal race, and general tips on training and nutrition. I am planning to run this race later this year, and Ayres' segment-by-segment recall of the course was so descriptive that I could visualize it. This book specifically focused on Ayres' running of the 2001 race and the tone felt after 9/11. It seems especially relevant today, now 20 years later, as our country yet again processes major social, health, and cultural tragedies from 2020. This was a fun read - I will pick it up again before I run the race myself!

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  • Utente anonimo
  • 18-11-20

Couldn't get through it

I listened for 2 hours hoping it would get better. It's less of a book about running than a book about social responsibility. While this is important, it isn't very entertaining. Maybe it gets better farther into it. I just couldn't do it.

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  • Dale
  • 10-09-20

really informative

loved it, found his story very informative and interesting.
i like he combined it with real world problems are environment is facing