Written by Ira Rainey - http://www.notbionic.co.uk
When many people first take up running they do so to get fitter, or in a bid to lose some weight. Sometimes people like the challenge of taking on a big city half marathon, or even a full marathon. Often these challenges come and go and people tick them off their list of achievements and move onto the next.
But what happens if you stick at one thing – in this case running – and keep reaching all your goals? Where is there to keep going? That is the question that is answered in James Adams’ book Running and Stuff.
After beginning running to tackle the London Marathon as a joke to amuse friends in 2000, Adams’ running career didn’t really take off until he moved to London in 2005 and joined a running club.
As is often the way his running began to take on new focus and with new found friends to enjoy it with he increased his training and raced more. At first marathons seemed the ultimate running challenge, and one which he was getting pretty good at, that was until an email dropped into his inbox that would change everything.
The email detailed the Badwater Ultramarathon. A 135 mile run through Death Valley, California – the hottest place on Earth – at the peak of summer. His curiosity at such an extreme event was instantly piqued and before he knew it he had set himself a five year goal of getting to Badwater.
This book follows not only his journey to California, but what happened afterwards. What could possibly follow a 135 mile run through a desert I hear you ask? Well, how about a 70 day, 3220 mile run across North America? Yes you read that right – across the whole US of A, from Los Angeles to New York.
Adams’ accomplishments are as great as the miles he covers doing them, which are simply mind-boggling. To say that he undertook a few races along the way is something of an understatement. This book reads like an encyclopaedia of ultramarathons. He reels off anecdotes from races that would be at the top of many runners’ lists would they have the balls to take them on.
As somebody who has run a handful of long runs I have to say I was massively humbled by what Adams has completed. By the time I finished this book I felt like a complete novice by comparison. But that is not because of any sense of superiority coming from the book, no, Adams’ writing is modest and down to Earth. He constantly downplays his own ability, portraying himself as pretty regular guy who has done some amazing things. Clearly he has running talent and bucket loads of mental determination, but at the heart of it he is somebody who has just pushed himself, further than many people would imagine was possible.
Adams’ tales from around the world not only highlight the incredible things you can achieve once you set your mind to them, but also the generosity and kindness of strangers. People who drive hundreds of miles to crew for somebody they have never met; folks who pay for your dinner without telling you; and the solidarity of long distance runners in ultra events.
But for as heart-warming as these stories are, what truly separates this book from many others is that Adams pulls no punches in his descriptions of events. This is no shiny tale of running happiness, the frank honesty of his journey begins from the very start of the book and continues on until the end. At times it is graphic, others funny, sometimes poignant, but what it always is is truthful. If you want to know what running ultra distances really does to a person, both physically and mentally, then this is the book for you. Recommended.
Currently Running and Stuff is available as an ebook and can be purchased from Amazon (link below), but a paperback edition is planned soon.