The latest Distance Running magazine has a short article on The Messengers book. Go to the following link for the article!
The Messengers – Book Review by Scott F. Parker as featured in the Summer Online Edition of RAINTAXI Review of Books
“In Running in Literature, Roger Robinson argues that the marathon “is without parallel in being a major sports event that has entirely literary origins.” Those origins reach back to Herodotus, Plutarch, and Lucian, but it was Robert Browning’s 1879 poem “Pheidippides”—which recounts the legend of the Greek messenger of that name bringing news to Athens in 490 BCE that their army had defeated the Persians in the Battle of Marathon, running the whole way and dying promptly after delivering the message—that later led organizers to include a long-distance race in the first modern Olympics (Athens 1896) to commemorate Pheidippides’ accomplishment. That race was approximately twenty-five miles, and none of the seventeen competitors completed the event without walking. The distance wasn’t standardized at 26.2 miles until 1921. Women weren’t allowed to marathon until the 1960s, and didn’t have the race as an Olympic event until 1984.
All this history is just to say that the marathon as we know it is an upstart. This makes the exponential increase in the number of people running marathons, the number of marathons out there to run, and the number of marathons individuals are running either more or less impressive—but in any case unprecedented as far back as we have records. It’s those distance runners who are compelled not just by distance but by repetition as well who interest Malcolm Anderson in The Messengers. “Messengers,” drawing from Pheidippides, are runners who have completed at least one hundred marathons.
Anderson became interested in these runners after meeting one at the 2006 Athens Marathon; Anderson was there to run his first marathon, Dave his 200th. This accidental encounter led the author to wonder why these runners keep going, what we can learn from them, and why “they all seem so damn happy,” and these questions set Anderson out to interview scores of messengers from around the world. The book intertwines his interview transcripts with musings on the sport and readings of the running literature and philosophy.
The result is as inspirational as you’d expect. The achievements themselves are staggering—runners who earn messenger status in a single year; runners who surpass 1,000 marathons—but perhaps more striking is the amount and kind of meaning these athletes draw from their sport. Again and again, the things these runners say about running center around friendship, learning, self-acceptance, and happiness. Health for them is as much mental, spiritual, and emotional as it is physical. These runners all participate in the joy of running qua running, a jovial state wherein the experience of running becomes its sole purpose. Anderson quotes James Fixx capturing this approach well in his book, The Complete Book of Running: “We can run where we want to. We can go fast or slow, hard or easy. We can run by ourselves or with friends. We can get out seven days a week or fewer. We can think or let our minds go blank. All these choices are entirely up to us: furthermore we can change them according to the minute-by-minute requirements and fancies of our minds and bodies.” The messages these runners carry begin from running but they finish with life itself: “throw away the watch,” says Jim Barnes; “enjoy the run,” says Harold Copeland. “That’s the answer. Enjoy whatever you’re doing.”
Hi everyone! Due to some neat feedback and comments on this photo, I’ve decided to put together a gallery of ‘great running shoe photos’. So I’m inviting everyone to send me your favourite running shoe photos. At some point I’ll post the gallery up for everyone to see. I’ll also offer book prize(s) to those who have sent in the ‘best photos’.
If you have a great photo or two, please email them to
I met up with Derrick Spafford in downtown Kingston, Ontario, Canada, one day for a coffee. Funny in a way, because we live not too far from one another out in the country. I wanted to learn more about Derrick’s most recent race – the 100 mile Yukon Arctic Ultra event which was held in the Yukon, Canada, in February, 2012. For those of you not familiar with weather in Canada, February is basically in the depths of winter, with temperatures that can easily drop to sometimes as cold as -40 to -50C, (-40F Fahrenheit) depending on where you are.
So for most of us, running 100 miles, in one race, is one thing; it’s a huge distance isn’t it? But running it in sub-zero temperatures? In the wilderness? Really?
Well, yes, especially if you are Derrick Spafford. Derrick’s been running competitively at a range of distances for more than 30 years, and coaching for over twenty years. His favourite races are on the trails, in the mountains, and in ultra and snowshoe running events. To give you a further sense of Derrick’s passion for running, he’s not missed a day of running since 1989.
He’s won a number of events over the years but he seems particularly ‘good’ with the 100 mile distance. In 2008 he won the Haliburton Forest 100-mile race through undulating forest trails in a time of 18:42. He went back in 2009 with the goal of breaking the course record, which was 18:23. This he did, finishing in a time of 17:52. Unfortunately, Glen Redpath of New York finished the race in a time of17:18 which meant Derrick finished second despite breaking the old record.
This year he travelled north to Whitehorse, Yukon, where he was able to combine his passion for distance with his love of snowshoeing. For those of you not familiar with Canada, Whitehorse is 2.5 hours in flying time north of Vancouver.
Derrick had competed in the 135km Rock and Ice Ultra in Yellowknife (Northwest Territory of Canada) in 2008 and 2009 and this gave him valuable experience for this year’s race (he finished second in the Rock and Ice Ultra in 2008). Despite a relatively ‘warm’ winter with little snow in and around his home in Yarker, just north of Kingston, he was able to get in some great training, which included dragging a tire, running a high mileage, and getting in many long runs. As Derrick wrote in his blog “I went into the race feeling a little tired physically, but felt that mentally I was as strong as I could be and would take strength out on the trail from thoughts of family, among other things”.
Before the race there was a pre-race trail briefing, gear to check and the pasta dinner. He’d be pulling /dragging a pulk with his supplies for the 100-mile race (which he estimates weighed about 40 lbs). That’s another little fact that raises the bar of hardship higher still for the 100 mile run. Come race day Derrick said his two biggest concerns were the overflows (layers of ice that form from successive flows of ground water in freezing temperatures – one of which he encountered after less than a mile into the race) and the cold. Fortunately the forecast was for temperatures of just -20C, which is quite tolerable and not unlike those experienced where he lives in southern Ontario.
After the 50 Km mark Derrick observed that things were getting increasingly remote. He was in second place and trying to increase his pace in a bid to catch the leader Justin Wallace. “Winding through the trails, there were spruce on both sides, water below and mountains on both sides as well. Just before it got dark, I was treated to the sight of a wolf scampering off in the distance below the trail.”
But it never really got that dark as the moon shone bright. So bright in fact that for a long portion of the night he didn’t even need to use his headlamp.
At the remote Checkpoint # 2, at 100Km into the race, there was just a tent heated by a barrel wood stove. Derrick wrote in his race report: “I was cold, and my stomach had stopped being able to handle my gel-blok-granola bar rotation. I underestimated the need for real food and specifically protein. I had a bit of soup and cheese sandwich, but had to deal with a ham sandwich and beef stew at CP#2. This was probably not the best thing for this vegetarian stomach, but you do what you have to do.” By this point, and with some hot food and more layers of clothing, the temperature had fallen to -30C.
Derrick writes of the frost dancing and sparkling off the trees, and the northern lights playing in the sky. Beautiful at any time, but what a buzz to have this show when you’ve been running more than 100km. And still running of course.
But let’s not forget that remoteness.
I asked Derrick about the whole safety side of things. He told me that every competitor wore a spot-tracker, which essentially plots their locational coordinates through a satellite so that the race organizers know where they are at any time. Importantly, the spot trackers have buttons the runners can press that either indicate an emergency, a non-life threatening problem, or that the runner is simply taking a rest, which explains why they’re not moving.
Derrick wrote: “I was very tired, not fueling with what I needed at this point and just in survival mode. Somehow though, in a very strange way, I was enjoying this. In a race like this, and at this point, things get quite raw. As strange as it sounds, the most important thing you need to look at doing is surviving. I know that sounds dramatic, but it’s 25-35 miles between checkpoints, and you just need to look after yourself and do all the little things that will help you keep moving forward. This is also when your brain starts misfiring too.”
With what he said was a mix of joy and relief he saw the Lake near the finish. A dog came along and ran with him to the finish line. He crossed the finish line in a time of 23 hours and 15 minutes. A great time that gave him second place, not far behind Justin Wallace, who finished in a new course record in 22 hours and 19 minutes.
Derrick wrote on his blog: “I loved everything about it. The event, the rugged wilderness, the people, the test. The scenery that I experienced in that setting is by far more beautiful than anything I have ever seen.”
It would be hard not to be proud of the accomplishment; running a 100-miler. In the middle of winter in Canada’s remote north. Pulling a 40 lb pulk. And finishing second. When your passion is running, it’s hard to believe it can get better than this.
Of course I suppose 1st place is one way. Maybe next year?
So I asked Derrick “Why do you like the 100 mile races. What’s the appeal?
I loved his answer.
After a few seconds of thought he replied “the absurdness of the distance”.
And that’s as good an answer as I can think of. I’m inspired to try a 100-miler this Fall. But in much different conditions. I still think a marathon is a long way. I have to get my mind around running four marathons in one race. And my body too. But I’m already thinking of what an amazing feeling it would be to finish it.
In the meantime Derrick will continue with his training and with plans to return to racing the Haliburton 100 miler this fall, and the Yukon Arctic Ultra again next February.
Getting to know Derrick and reading of his exploits and passion is one of those ways to get inspired and to push yourself into experiences you once thought wasn’t possible. Derrick’s coached hundreds of runners, many through his online coaching service.
Even if I’m unsuccessful with my 100-miler I know that the process I go through to get to the start-line will fill my thoughts positively and my health and fitness will be better for it. Of course people may think I’m crazy, but they probably think that already.
To contact Derrick go to www.HealthandAdventure.com
Anton Reiter completes his 100th marathon
This past weekend Austrian runner Anton Reiter completed his 100th marathon in Rome. Anton was one of 12,688 runners who crossed the finish line in front of the “Colosseo”, which is a record number of finishers for an Italian sport event. The winners were Kenya’s Luka Lokobe Kanda in a time of 2:08 for the men and Hellen Jemaiyo Kimutai in a time of 2:31 for women.
But this 18th Maratona di Roma Acea was much more special than just the times of the winners and it being the largest number of finishers for an event in Italy. Anton joins a select number of distance runners from around the world who have completed 100 marathons. Finishing one marathon is a tremendous achievement. Completing one hundred marathons is truly remarkable because it says so much about an individual’s character and resolve. I’ve called these runners ‘The Messengers’ in a recent book of mine because I believe their stories have so much to offer everyone. Asides from the physical, mental, emotional and sometimes spiritual health benefits, as well as the social connectedness which contributes importantly to overall happiness, these Messengers have a positive outlook for life and a passion that is contagious!!
About three weeks ago I was emailing with Anton regarding another book – one about the Marathon Maniacs just out; I was the editor and Anton was one of the contributors to that book. In one of the emails Anton mentioned he would be running his 100th marathon in Rome. I wrote back saying “fantastic” and wished him the best for the run – obviously a very special run being his 100th. I also mentioned that Lori and I were to run the Rome marathon last year, 2011, and in fact, were actually at the start-line when due to a very sudden unexpected illness we couldn’t even start the race. We headed back to the Hotel as the runners began their run around Rome. We immediately promised ourselves to go back and run Rome in the near future.
Anton replied. In a wonderful spirit of generosity he said he would like to put our names on his shirt that he’d wear as he ran his hundredth marathon around Rome. On the front of his shirt he had made: “I run, therefore I am (exist)”, and on the back of his shirt was the phrase “Today I run for MALCOLM and LORI”. He wrote to us and said “Now you both will run with me the Rome marathon in mind and are motivated to make a second attempt next year.”
So we’re very pleased and thrilled for Anton that despite the heat, the narrow crowded streets and the hills he successfully completed his 100th marathon, and it looks like he won’t be stopping running any time soon. He’s only in his fifties, and as we know from other Messengers there are many more marathons possible and likely in his future.
So we want to say “Thank-you” again Anton. We feel incredibly honored and privileged to think that you would and did carry our names around Rome for 26.2 miles – we hope they didn’t weigh you down at all. And you’ve further strengthened our own resolve to return to Rome next year for the marathon, and reaffirmed our faith in the goodness of people.
Last week I had an opportunity to catch-up with Messenger Dave Major from England. As of February 2012, he’s now approaching 500 marathons!!! It was our chance meeting on a train platform in Athens a few years ago that led to the writing of The Messengers. So last week I asked Dave several questions – the answers to which I’ve provided below:
How many marathons (and ultras) have you run?
As of 19th February 2012 I’ve run a total of 490.
How many countries have you run in?
When did you start running?
It was the 1st September, 1994. I waited until it was dark before I went out for the run as I was embarrassed about my weight and lack of fitness – in my prime of 29 years.
Why did you start running?
Weight, asthma, an unhealthy feeling and a general lack of self-esteem. The diagnosis of my doctor at the time after taking a peak flow test. He said to me “the last breath of a dead man registers higher than that. If you don’t change your ways you will either be in a wheelchair and oxygen mask by the 35 … or dead.”
What have been your most memorable races, and why?
There have been three that I’d rate the highest: London 1996 was my first, New York 2001 – as it was my wife’s 1st marathon and because it was only 6 weeks from 9/11, and the Comrades Ultra Marathon in 2008 – which, to me, is the best long distance race in the world.
What are your next running goals?
In the short term – to make my 500th marathon on April 15th 2012. My medium term goal is to set a personal best record for the marathon distance – my time to beat 3:23:42. I have a letter ready to be issued to all the news agencies titled. “If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again… well actually 500+ times.” My long term goal is to keep enjoying my running and maintaining my health.
What’s your day job?
I work at an airport managing, the Property and Facilities. It’s a varied job which is predominantly project based and I have a team of 12 people that work for me, 2 of which I have managed to get to run a marathon in the last 12 months.
Can you tell me more about your new running business ‘Madeyarun’?
I started Madeyarun.com with my wife Linda. We wanted to help people achieve more than they possibly believe they can. We offer discounts, travel advice, planning and price checking services through weekly bulletins & newsletters. Our “Travel Club” is a not-for-profit service where we arrange trips to other countries and marathons for runners and their supporters. Travelling together with like-minded people is a great way of experiencing new locations and marathons.
The current boom in running is bringing a lot of new people into the sport and more runners will be looking for better value races and more economical trips away. ‘Madeyarun’ is there to provide a service and after running and traveling to 800 marathons (our combined total), Linda and I should know a slightly bit more than most.
What advice would you give to new runners, and new distance runners?
Although runners don’t set out to deliberately injure themselves, become disillusioned with their performance or put themselves under immense stress, I’ve seen this on numerous occasions and I find it very sad.
Running should be fun; you should feel a sense of well-being and improvement from almost every run you complete and you should never be disappointed in completing a distance that most sedentary people wouldn’t undertake in a car without packing a picnic, credit cards and mobile phone.
So my advice is to start slow, have smaller goals to start with, and then have a reward for each one. If you can’t keep raising the bar for speed or distance, just settle at what you feel is comfortable and ‘enjoy’. You don’t have to keep ‘chasing’ improvements in speed or time unless you’re being paid for running or winning prize money. The vast majority of us spend money on our hobby and don’t earn it from running, so we need to remind ourselves to simply enjoy it!
My overall message is whatever the distance or time you complete, make sure you celebrate your fitness with a reward to yourself.
Who is your favourite runner?
Haile Gebrselassie, without a doubt. I ran the Dubai marathon in 2010 and was fortunate enough to stay in the same hotel as the great man. Speaking to him he was exactly as I imagined. His ability and longevity have been nothing but inspiring to me for almost all my running life. Arguably, he saved my life, so I can only have total respect for someone who does that.
Finally Dave, as you move into the ‘490s’ of marathons and ultras completed, what is going through your mind as you approach that truly magical marathon number of 500?!
Hmmm…now you have got me thinking!
1. Not getting injured.
2. Weather forecasts.
3. What happens if one race is called off. Make sure I have a back-up plan with other races I can enter.
4. What happens if I’m ill?
5. Would I be that upset if I didn’t make it but tried my best?
But really, I’m very relaxed about each subsequent hundred since making the first hundred. But on the flip side I’m very determined to achieve my 500!!
Thanks very much Dave. I wish you all the best in the weeks ahead. Let’s catch-up again in late April and you can tell me how the 500th race went!!
Note: Dave’s website is: http://www.madeyarun.com/
Dave is one of the runners featured in the book: ‘The Messengers’ – about runners from around the world who have completed 100 marathons or more. More information and reviews of the book can be found in the bookstore section of this runplaces website.
The Marathon Maniacs: The World’s Most Insane Running Club
The Marathon Maniacs Club was formed in 2003. The Club now has over 5,000 members. Who are these Maniacs? This book is a compilation of stories from close to 100 different club members. The stories are thoughtful, entertaining, instructive, endearing, sometimes comical, and above all, immensely inspirational. Distance runners bond very quickly with many people. They learn about other people and themselves, and they visit new places. The Maniacs share a passion for running long distances and a passion for everything that those experiences provide. Read just a few of these stories and you’ll want to get up and get moving!!
Acclaim for the Marathon Maniacs
“When Thomas Edison invented the first incandescent light bulb, his ground-breaking achievements illuminated the world as we know it. The same sentiment holds true with the creators of Marathon Maniacs. Their light bulb moment will no doubt burn brightly long after any finish line. This book captures the electrifying energy they have tapped into. I highly recommend it!”—Gary Allen, race director Mount Desert Island Marathon, MM #59
“Since the 1930s the Hash House Harriers have pretty much been the preeminent maniacs of the long-distance running world. But now there is a new—and worthy—challenger: the Marathon Maniacs, a club where gross number of marathons run is an end in itself and where its members seem never to have met a marathon they didn’t like. This is one of those rare books in these dire times: a collection of 77 runner stories filled with inspiration and…well…happiness. Proof positive that there is such a thing as a runner’s high.”—Richard Benyo, author and Marathon & Beyond editor
“The Marathon Maniacs are the craziest bunch of runners I’ve ever met, but there is not a group that enjoys running more than the Maniacs! I guess that’s why I’m one of them and very proud of it!”—Dick Beardsley, 2:08:53, Boston 1982, MM #133
“The capacity of human achievement is astonishing, and the Marathon Maniacs epitomize this. They are ordinary people who show us again and again (and yet again!) that we can do extraordinary things.”—Kathrine Switzer, author of Marathon Woman and first woman to officially run the Boston Marathon
“The Marathon Maniacs are all about friendships, camaraderie, living the endurance lifestyle, and embracing the journey.”—Bart Yasso, Runner’s World Chief Running Officer
“Malcolm Anderson has truly put together a well-written ample (300 pages) book that will make a lasting contribution to distance running, from the non-elite side, and we urge everyone to get a copy. Published in Canada, where Anderson resides, The Messengers is a bargain at $17.50.” Northwest Runner Magazine, United States.
For sale throughout the US and available online from major bookstores and Amazon.com. Also available as an e-Book. For autographed copies write to Malcolm: firstname.lastname@example.org
New World Record for the most marathons run in a year!
“I really don’t like running much” said Englishman Traviss Willcox. It sounds very odd coming from someone who, in 2011, completed 114 officially sanctioned marathons. Yes, that’s right, 114. Just the month of December was busy for someone not liking running much too; 19 in 31 days on two different continents.
Traviss is the first to admit he’s not likely to beat the Kenyans any time soon. But if you asked the elite Kenyans to run 100 marathons in a year you might not seem them in a rush to tie their laces up and get cracking either.
What’s more amazing is that Traviss, in his mid-forties, still worked his full-time job as webmaster for Golf Today throughout the year as he completed his 114 marathons. And another amazing tidbit is that, in total, Traviss has only completed 150 marathons at this point.
Which, of course, is way more than most of the world. But in the world of 100 Marathon clubs he would still be considered a relative newcomer. In fact, he said that just a few years ago he couldn’t even run 100 yards. But he’s a newcomer who simply gets on with it. No fuss; has his sights set on specific goals and gets on with it.
In 2007, as with many others who enter their forties, he felt he was getting out of shape and had to do something about it. His girlfriend Rachel started running 5 Km races and was keen to run the London marathon. Naturally she would look to Traviss as her training partner and he said “yes”. To say he got the bug would be an understatement of massive proportions. Traviss ran his first race – the 5 Km Pants in Park in 2009. He said “I wasn’t last but it was an awful struggle, but I finished and rewarded myself with a huge Burger King meal.”
The trajectory is familiar. Their distances increased from 5 Km to 10 Km …10 miles … Half marathon … and then the full marathon. He and Rachel joined the Maidstone Harriers, a British running club, and the social dimension of distance running became more and more prevalent in their lives. They also met members of the UK 100 Marathon Club and, as stunned as he was that people could run 100 or more marathons, he decided that that was something he could try and do. So with determination, resolve, patience and some incredible planning he set about the goal of completing 50 marathons, with his first marathon – the Thunder Road Marathon – successfully being completed in 2009. By the time ‘50’ came around, the 100 marathon mark seemed quite doable and was clearly in his sights.
In a recent interview with Golf Today Traviss commented on his first marathon: “About 50 yards in, I felt “something” ping in my left knee. By about 8 miles I was falling back rapidly, by 14 I was hobbling and having to walk. By 17 it was screaming when I ran so was just shuffling and by mile 25 I could barely move. But at the back of a marathon there is a great sense of camaraderie, no one is having a good day back there, and you kept getting jollied along by other runners, and you jollied them along and passersby would give you some encouragement and so on. If I had been sensible I would have quit, I finished dead last with motorcycle outriders for company 2 minutes under the time limit. I took 15 minutes to creep about 400 metres from the finish line to the car, my knee really was screaming.
Fast forward, but not too far, into 2011. In addition to the World Record for most marathons in a year, Traviss also notched up the following achievements:
Most marathon events completed in a 365 day period: 115 (World Record)
Fastest to first 100 marathon completions: 688 days (World Record)
Fastest to first 100 different marathon events: 720 days (World Record)
Fastest completion of 100 marathon events: 284 Days (World Record)
Fastest completion of 50 marathon events: 114 Days (World Record)
Most UK & Ireland marathon events in a calendar year: 82 (British Record)
Of course it wasn’t all run, run, run. He and Rachel managed to squeeze in a two-week holiday to New Zealand and Tahiti in August, which no doubt his body was grateful for. But apart from that break, Traviss averaged more than two marathons every week.
The body, as we all know, needs to be fuelled, and constantly, in order to run the long distances. Traviss is no poster boy for sports nutrition, however, but it doesn’t seem to matter that he’s focused mainly on McDonald’s, Burger King, Dominos Pizza, Cheesecake and protein for his energy. Given the calories expended in 2011, he’s been able to eat pretty much whatever he wants.
Injuries? You bet. Over the year he had problems with his ankles, blisters and shin pain, as well as various knee, quads, calves, and hamstring issues. As he commented when interviewed “My criteria for doing a marathon wasn’t “could I run to the finish”, it was “could I walk to the start”. In fact Traviss said he had doubts about whether he could do what he set out to do pretty much every time he lined up for a race. At times he would run 500 yards and think there is no way he can complete the distance. But he kept on; that resilience and tenacity we know of well in distance runners, and eventually the finish line would be crossed.
And so in a 12-month period Traviss ran 99 marathons and 15 ultra-marathons. He ran multi-day marathon challenges on six occasions. He ran 82 races in the United Kingdom and Ireland, 6 in Europe and 26 in the United States. And all the while, he had a full-time job.
Traviss has been able to complete in one year what most people, including most runners, would consider to be close to impossible. More people have climbed Mount Everest than run 100 marathons. Traviss has done that and then some. In one year. It’s a remarkable feat, or feet, blistered, but it truly attests to the fact that anything is possible.
Traviss is a Messenger for sure. We wish Traviss the best of the best for 2012, and hope he can enjoy his running, and enjoy reflecting upon his incredible accomplishments of 2011.
Malcolm Anderson, January 2012
For more on runners who have completed 100 marathons visit this runplaces bookstore and review ‘The Messengers’.
Rich Benyo’s Book Review of A Marathon Odyssey by Malcolm Anderson
There are scores of runners these days writing extensively about their various running adventures and many of them are turning into unreadable books. The resulting books are more like expanded running logs wedged between the covers of a book. “On Thursday I ran 14 miles on my regular 14-mile course. It was sunny and warm and I wore my Nike Thrill-Seeker GTs and no shirt. I looked like one of those skinny runner guys on the cover of Runner’s World, minus the six-pack abs.”
The book goes on, in tedious detail, to share with a reluctant reader every run and race for that particular year, with a stated goal of running at least one marathon a month. The only good thing is that, unlike the nouveau runner in person, who can push you into a corner and give you a cauliflower ear by relating every step of every run, you can either put a bookmark in the tome or you can consign it to a dark corner of a closet.
Enough already. Let that tree live, brother. Don’t pulp it for yet another such book.
Every once in a while someone stumbles along who manages to fashion a readable first-person running book, typically by leavening it with several factors above (below?) a step-by-step compendium:
The book covers more than that runner’s runs and races, often taking on the whole phenomenon of running…or, in this case, marathoning, giving its history as he goes along, thereby making the book of interest to even non-runners.
The author fashions stories that he inserts, either to make a point or to break up the narrative, and by so doing, entertain the reader.
The guy has a serious sense of humor, which permeates the book, and which assures the reader that, yes, this guy is serious about his running but, no, he doesn’t take himself too seriously in the process.
Some people can do this juggling act, others can’t come close. Some can keep this act going for a dozen pages or so, while others manage to go to marathon lengths and still not lose the fun along the way.
Such a book is A Marathon Odyssey, Malcolm Anderson’s tale of his personal quest to run a meager three marathons in two months: Athens (the course closest to the marathon’s origin), Cayman Island (can you say “destination marathon”?), and Disney’s Goofy Challenge (the “Donald Duck-inspired” half-marathon on Saturday and the Mickey Mouse-inspired marathon on Sunday).
Anderson peppers the book with numerous sidebars, everything from a study of the growth of marathon running to the rise of running for causes. He also inserts pages of photos from his adventures, with sometimes off-the-wall captions that further lighten the mood.
A light yet informative read, one with real legs.
The book is available as an eBook and through the bookstore link at runplaces.com
Rich Benyo is the editor of Marathon & Beyond, a bimonthly magazine devoted to the marathon and to ultrarunning. He is also the author of more than 20 books, most of them in the areas of fitness, health, and running.