August 06, 2013
Run or Die by Kilian Jornet
I'd never heard of Kilian Jornet before reading this book. Which is probably to be expected. Despite considering myself a "runner" I still think a 10k is a distance to shoot for. Ultramarathons and what Jornet does is just beyond me. But in search of the ever elusive secret to not getting bored while running long distances, I decided to take a chance on reading this book.
Jornet, originally having started out as a skier, was always a fan of the outdoors thanks to the excursions his parents took he and his sister on as children. Now, grown, and a very competitive athlete, he currently is a trail runner, ultramarathoner and skyrunner. All of which are humongous feats of athleticism. In this book he gives a stream of consciousness on some of the races he's won, some of his past memories, and a little bit of his personal life.
Jornet really focuses on the running in this book. While people are mentioned, they are secondary. We have a little bit of his mother and sister as they accompanied him on some of his adventures. Not much of his dad at all though. A little bit more of his family and what they thought about his running wouldn't have been out of place. And there was some of a previous girlfriend, but I didn't really enjoy those parts so I can't say I was thrilled to read about her. About himself Jornet really is able to exude his passion for running. And he admits his faults too, giving his true reasons for really wanting to run and acknowledging that he really needs praise from others for motivation. I like that kind of honesty and think it's a very real perspective.
This book is a little more flowery in the writing that I normally like (maybe as a result from the translation?) but I actually found myself enjoying it here. What I didn't like however, were the odd instances of his time with his girlfriend thrown in. Unlike his reminisces about his family, they just didn't fit and were distracting. Perhaps if they had had their own area they might have worked, but fit in between some of his challenging races they were definitely out of place. The sections where he is describing the races are wonderful though. You can almost feel what he's feeling and really commiserate with his pains and sore muscles and just marvel at how he's still moving after so many miles. If the whole book had focused on the races themselves I think it would have been excellent.
I would probably rate this book 3.5 stars. It had some fantastic parts, great writing in some areas, but ultimately had its readability disrupted by some of the personal stuff. While I can never envision myself running those kind of distances, I have nothing but the deepest admiration for Jornet and his running skills.
Run or Die