I recently bought and read Kilian Jornet first book ‘Run or Die’ which I really enjoyed. Fiona, my girlfriend, kindly wrote a book review on it. You can read her thoughts below, giving you a brief insight into the book.
‘Kilian Jornet is one of the world’s top ultrarunners. Three times winner of the UTMB, three times winner of the Skyrunner world series, winner of the Western States 100. Not that you would know these statistics from this book. Those seeking detailed training plans or nutritional secrets will look elsewhere, as, after an opening chapter describing his childhood and early ski-mountaineering racing, Jornet takes us through a series of vignettes of his running, in an attempt to give us a sense of who he is and why he challenges himself in the way that he does. This is no list of successes and failures; firsts, seconds and thirds. The race he describes in most detail is unnamed, and the reader is left wondering if in fact this description is an amalgam of many such races, the competitors he names representative of all those he has raced against. Jornet had an unusual childhood – he grew up living in a refuge (mountain hut) that his parents looked after in the eastern Pyrenees. His parents taught him and his sister to love and respect the natural world that surrounded them, and this passion for and love of nature shines through the book.
It is obvious that Jornet thrives on a challenge. Much of the book is taken up with descriptions of solo runs, where the only opponent is the clock. In the case of an 8-day run across the whole of the Pyrenees, the description of which occupies two chapters, the challenge seems to have been simply that it was there. He gives us detailed accounts, too, of a 165 mile run along the Lake Tahoe trail in the United States, and of a successful attempt on the record for the ascent and descent of Kilimanjaro.
What is left out is as interesting as what is included – the Western States 100 race that he describes is not the 2011 race, which he won, but the 2010 race where he battled to third – but, he tells us, he learned much from the experience. This, I assume, is why Jornet writes at such length about his solo runs, for it is there that he feels he learns most about himself. Not that he is not competitive – he is! Fiercely competitive! He loves to win. It is just that he is not only a person who loves to win races but also a person who loves to challenge himself and pushes to see what his body is capable of.
This is a fascinating book, giving an insight into one man’s reasons for pushing and challenging himself. One criticism is the translation from Jornet’s native Catalan – there are a few oddities: “acclimated” for “acclimatised”, a “balcony” rather than a “terrace” on the hillside; and I assume the heights have been converted from feet to meters for the convenience of American readers. All in all, however, these minor issues don’t detract from the overall interest of this book.’
I have a few other books that we are planning to review over the coming months such as Marshall Ulrich’s ‘Running on Empty’ and Scott Jurk’s ‘Eat and Run’.
If any of you have books that you would like to review and have the review published on my blog then let me know and we can put them on here. These can be from ultra runners, triathletes, training books or the like. Happy reading everyone.