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Sunday Times Sports Book of the Year - Shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award Winner - Best New Writer category at the British Sports Book Awards. After years of watching Kenyan athletes win the world's biggest long-distance races, Runner's World contributor Adharanand Finn set out to discover what it was that made them so fast - and to see if he could keep up. Packing up his family, he moved to Iten, Kenya, the running capital of the world, and started investigating. Was it running barefoot to school, the food, the altitude, or something else? At the end of his journey he put his research to the test by running his first marathon, across the Kenyan plains. This edition includes a new chapter covering the 2012 Olympics.
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Running in the Northamptonshire County Championships, 1988
We’re running across long, wavy grass, racing for the first corner. I’m right at the front, being pushed on by the charge of legs all around me, the quick breathing of my schoolmates. We run under the goalposts and swing down close beside the stone wall along the far edge of the field. It’s quieter now. I look around. One other boy is just behind me, but the others have all dropped back. Up ahead I can see the fluttering tape marking the next corner. I run on, the cold air in my lungs, the tall poplar trees shivering above my head.
We go out of the school grounds, along a gravel path that is normally out of bounds. My feet crunch along, the only sound. An old man pushing a bicycle stands to one side as I go by. I follow the tape, back down a steep slope on to the playing fields, back to the finish. I get there long before anyone else and stand waiting in the cold as the other runners come in, collapsing one after the other across the line. I watch them, rolling on their backs, kneeling on the ground, their faces red. I feel strangely elated. It’s the first PE class in my new school and we’ve all been sent out on a cross-country run. I’ve never tried running farther than the length of a football field before, so I’m surprised by how easy I find it.
“He’s not even breathing hard,” the teacher says, holding me up as an example to the others. He tells me to put my hands under my armpits to keep them warm as the other children continue to trail in.
A few years later, at age twelve, I break the 800 meters school record on sports day, despite a few of the other boys attempting to bundle me over at the start in an effort to help their friend win. Five minutes later, I run the 1,500 meters and win that, too. When we get home, my dad, sensing some potential talent, suggests that I join the local running club and looks up the number in the telephone directory. I hear him talking to someone on the phone, asking directions. From that point on, a course is set: I am to be a runner.
It all begins rather inauspiciously one night a few weeks later. I put on my shorts and tracksuit and walk across the bridge to the shopping mall next to our suburban housing estate in Northampton, England, a town of 200,000 people sixty-five miles north of London. The precinct is half deserted, save for a few late shoppers coming out of the giant Tesco supermarket. I head down the escalator to the car park, and then across the road to the unmarked dirt track where the Northampton Phoenix running club meets. It’s a cold night and all the runners are crammed into a small doorway in the side of a huge redbrick wall. Inside, the corridor walls are painted bloodred and covered in lewd graffiti. Down the hall are the changing rooms, where men can be heard laughing loudly above the fizz of the showers. I give my name to a lady sitting at a small table.
Rather than head out onto the track, as I had imagined, I’m taken back across the road with a group of children my age, to the shopping mall’s delivery area, a stretch of covered road with shuttered loading bays all along one side. The road itself is thick with discharged oil. A man in tights and a yellow running jacket gets us to run from one side of the road to the other, touching the curb each time. Between each sprint he makes us do exercises such as push-ups or jumping jacks. I begin thinking, as I lie back on the cold, hard concrete ready to do some sit-ups, that I’ve come to the wrong place. This isn’t running. I had imagined groups of lithe athletes hurtling around a track. My dad must have gotten confused and called the wrong club.
I’m so convinced this isn’t the running club that I don’t return for another year. When I do, they ask me if I’d like to train in “the tunnel”—which I take to mean the shopping mall loading bays—or head out for a long run. I opt for the long run and am directed over to a group of about forty people. This is more like it. As we set off along the gravel pathways that wind around the council estates of east Northampton, I feel for the first time the sensation of running in the middle of a group of people. The easy flow of our legs moving below us, the trees, houses, lakes floating by, the people stepping aside, letting us go. Although most of the other runners are older and constantly making jokes, as I drift quietly along, I feel a vague sense of belonging.
I spend the next six years or so as a committed member of the club, running track or cross-country races most weekends, and training at least twice a week. Much of my formative years I spend out pounding the roads. Even when I grow my hair long and start playing the guitar in a band, I keep on training. The other runners nickname me Bono. One night, when I’m about eighteen, I pass a bunch of my school friends coming back from the pub. We are going at full pace in the last mile of a long run. My school friends stare at me open mouthed as I charge by, one shouting, incredulously: “What are you doing?” as I disappear into the distance.
I first become aware of Kenyan runners sometime in the mid-1980s, around the time I join the running club. They seem to emerge suddenly in large numbers into a running world dominated, in my eyes, by Britain’s Steve Cram and the Moroccan Said Aouita. I’m a big fan of both of these great rivals. Cram, with his high-stepping, majestic style; and the smaller Aouita, with his grimacing face and rocking shoulders, who is brilliant at every distance—from the short, fast 800 meters right up to the 10,000 meters.
But by the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, it is all Kenyans, winning every men’s middle-distance and long-distance track gold medal except one. What impresses me most about them is the way they run. The conventional wisdom is that the most efficient method, particularly in the longer distances, is to run at an even pace, and most races are run that way. The Kenyans, however, take a more maverick approach. They are always surging ahead, only to slow down suddenly, or sprinting off at a crazy pace right from the start. I love the way it befuddles the TV commentators, who are constantly predicting that a Kenyan athlete is going too fast, only to then see him go suddenly even faster.
I remember watching the 1993 world championship 5,000 meters final on a warm mid-August evening in our living room in Northampton. My mum keeps coming in and out, suggesting I go and sit outside in the garden. It’s a lovely evening, but I’m glued to the TV. The television cameras are focused on the prerace favorite, the Olympic champion from Morocco, Khalid Skah, and also on a young Ethiopian named Haile Gebrselassie, who won both the 5,000 meters and the 10,000 meters at the world junior championships the year before. The athletes stand side by side at the start line, looking back into the camera. They smile nervously when their names are announced, and give the odd directionless wave.
The race sets off at a blistering pace, with a succession of African athletes streaking ahead one after the other at the front. Skah, who has taken on and beaten the Kenyans many times before, tracks their every move, always sitting on the shoulder of the leader. Britain’s only runner in the race, Rob Denmark, soon finds himself trailing far behind.
With seven laps still to go, the BBC television commentator Brendan Foster is feeling the strain just watching. “It’s a vicious race out there,” he says. Right on queue, a young Kenyan, Ismael Kirui, surges to the front and, within a lap, opens up a huge gap of more than 150 feet on everyone else. It’s a suicidal move, Foster declares. “He’s only eighteen and has no real international experience. I think he’s got a little carried away.” I sit riveted, screaming at the TV as the coverage cuts away to the javelin for a few moments. When it switches back, Kirui is still leading. Lap after lap, Skah and a group of three Ethiopians track him, but they aren’t getting any closer. The camera zooms in on Kirui’s eyes, staring ahead, wild like a hunted animal as he keeps piling on the pace. “This is one savage race,” says Foster.
Kirui is still clear as the bell sounds for the last lap. Down the back straight he sprints for his life, but the three Ethiopians are flying now, closing the gap. With just over 100 meters left, Kirui glances over his shoulder and sees the figure of Gebrselassie closing in on him. For a brief second everything seems to stop. This is the moment, the kill is about to happen. Startled, frantic, Kirui turns back toward the front and urges his exhausted body on again, his tired legs somehow sprinting away down the finishing straight. He crosses the line less than half a second ahead of Gebrselassie, but he has done it. He has won. Battered and bewildered, he sets off on his lap of honor, the Kenyan flag, once again, held aloft in triumph.
That evening I head down to the track for a training session with my running club. I try to run like Kirui, staring straight ahead, going as fast as I can right from the start. It’s one of the best training sessions I ever have. Usually, if you run too hard at the beginning, you worry about how you’ll feel later. You can feel it in your body, the anticipation of the pain to come. Usually it makes you slow down. It’s called pacing yourself. But that night I don’t care. I want to unshackle myself and run free like a Kenyan.
The night I spend hurtling wide-eyed around the track after watching Ismael Kirui turns out to be one of the last sessions I ever have with my running club. Just over a month later I pack my belongings into my parents’ car and drive up to Liverpool to begin college. Although I join the college running team,...
'I've seldom read a better account of the exhilaration of running...what gives Running With the Kenyans its special appeal is Finn's charm ... He's unusually engaging company both on and off the track.' Evening Standard
'A revealing study of the African nationa's long-distance supremacy.' Daily Telegraph Sports Books of the Year
'What sets Finn's book apart is that in trying to 'discover the secrets of the fastest people on earth' he realises something far greater - that there's no 'elixir' but the hunger to succeed.' Metro Books of the Year
'An engaging memoir...The book is populated with engagingly drawn characters and towards the end, Finn's quest - the burning need to attain a certain marathon time - is gripping.' Daily Telegraph
A hugely inspiring story of what is possible when we dare to try.' --Ruth Field, author of Run Fat Bitch Run
'If Chris McDougall's Born to Run taught us what to wear (or not to wear) when running, Finn's fascinating Running With The Kenyans teaches us how to run, and should be required reading for anyone planning their first fun run or marathon. In the tradition of the best sports writing he embedded himself fully in his subject and reveals, for the first time, just how close we are to the holy grail of the sub two-hour marathon.' --Robin Harvie, author of Why We Run
'[This] beautifully crafted account of an expedition of discovery to Kenya defies categorisation ... The adventure is captivating.' --Nick Pitt, The Sunday Times Books of the Year
'In unobtrusively beautiful prose, [Finn] evokes the will to run at the heart of Kenyan life.' --Sunday Telegraph
'[Finn's] unfussy, evocative prose makes it an engaging odyssey.' --Sunday Telegraph
Les informations fournies dans la section « A propos du livre » peuvent faire référence à une autre édition de ce titre.
Description du livre Paperback. Etat : New. Main. Language: English. Brand new Book. Sunday Times Sports Book of the YearShortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year AwardWinner - Best New Writer category at the British Sports Book AwardsAfter years of watching Kenyan athletes win the world's biggest long-distance races, Runner's World contributor Adharanand Finn set out to discover what it was that made them so fast - and to see if he could keep up. Packing up his family, he moved to Iten, Kenya, the running capital of the world, and started investigating. Was it running barefoot to school, the food, the altitude, or something else? At the end of his journey he put his research to the test by running his first marathon, across the Kenyan plains.This edition includes a new chapter covering the 2012 Olympics. N° de réf. du vendeur AA99780571274062
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Description du livre Paperback. Etat : new. Paperback. After years of watching Kenyan athletes win the world's biggest races, from the Olympics to big city marathons, Runner's World contributor Adharanand Finn set out to discover just what it was that made them so fast - and to see if he could keep up. Packing up his family (and his running shoes), he moved from Devon to the small town of Iten, in Kenya, home to hundreds of the country's best athletes. Once there he laced up his shoes and ventured out onto the dirt tracks, running side by side with Olympic champions, young hopefuls and barefoot schoolchildren. He ate their food, slept in their training camps, interviewed their coaches, and his children went to their schools. And at the end of it all, there was his dream, to join the best of the Kenyan athletes in his first marathon, an epic race through lion country across the Kenyan plains. With global attention on both the London Marathon in April 2012 and the London Olympics in the summer, there has never been a more exciting time to experience what it is really like to train and race with the stars of distance running. Tells the remarkable story of Adharanand Finn's personal quest to discover the secrets of some of the world's greatest runners, inspired by years of watching Kenyan athletes win renowned races in the Olympics and other major marathons. 'I've seldom read a better account of the exhilaration of running' "Evening Standard" Shipping may be from multiple locations in the US or from the UK, depending on stock availability. N° de réf. du vendeur 9780571274062
Description du livre Paperback. Etat : New. Main. Language: English. Brand new Book. Sunday Times Sports Book of the YearShortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year AwardWinner - Best New Writer category at the British Sports Book AwardsAfter years of watching Kenyan athletes win the world's biggest long-distance races, Runner's World contributor Adharanand Finn set out to discover what it was that made them so fast - and to see if he could keep up. Packing up his family, he moved to Iten, Kenya, the running capital of the world, and started investigating. Was it running barefoot to school, the food, the altitude, or something else? At the end of his journey he put his research to the test by running his first marathon, across the Kenyan plains.This edition includes a new chapter covering the 2012 Olympics. N° de réf. du vendeur FOY9780571274062
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