Running with the Kenyans – Adharanand Finn

Continuing my obsession with reading about running, this is a book about the phenomenon of Kenyan distance running, where a reasonably competent runner (with suitable apologies to Adharanand) decides to go to Africa to see if training with the best runners in the world could improve his methods.

What he discovers is a community of people who live for running, getting up in the dark, running, sleeping, going for another run maybe, and eating ugali. They don’t seem to do very much else. And there are hundreds of them, and the reason they do it is simple – if they are successful, they can buy a little farm, or a car, or both.

And the reason why Kenyans are so successful? It seems to be that they don’t do anything apart from running. And sleeping. And does it help Mr Finn? Quite a bit.

Is it a great book? Well, it’s pretty good. There are plenty of people who turn up at Olympic events, or winning city marathons that Adharanand met in his time in Kenya, which is nice, and it’s well told, but it’s not that gripping. I think what I like about it is that I read the columns in the Guardian first, and I follow @adharanand now on Twitter and the book is the thing in the middle of it – it’s a bit different from other books that exists more independently from the rest of the world in that way.


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