Christopher McDougall - Born to Run (4 stars)

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Christopher McDougall - Born to Run

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SOCIAL TRAVELOGUE

In 2001, former war correspondent and much-injured running nut Christopher McDougall asked his doctor why his foot hurt so badly. The medic, an expert in sports medicine, informed McDougall that at over six foot tall, his body was simply not built for the kind of abuse that jogging delivers and that he should take up cycling. Obstinacy and passion led McDougall to seek other opinions, all of which seem to concur with his doctor’s. Unable to say goodbye to an activity he saw as his undeniable right, McDougall went in search of the reclusive Tarahumara peoples in Mexico’s Copper Canyon. The Tarahumara (a name they were given by barely literate Conquistadors who raped and pillaged them and their homeland in the 1600s, hence their continuing social reticence) are actually called the Rarámuri or The Running People, and their athleticism, endurance and running prowess is unsurpassable. Desperate to know their secrets, McDougall goes on a treacherous journey into their mysterious canyons. It is a trip that is to bring him into contact with the good, the crazed and the just plain weird.

Like an energy-drinking Carlos Castaneda educated on the Newsweek features and books of Christopher Dickey (son of Deliverance writer James), McDougall creates a fascinating portrait of a truly egalitarian and beautiful race, one that has removed itself from the corporate spectre of the modern world and all its collected idiocies. Recommended for sports and non-sports fans alike.

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