Note: I wrote this many moons ago, but never posted it.
I am still reading Born to Run and it is an absolute gem of a novel. There is one great story after another, loaded with compelling thoughts on running as well as life. It is especially intriguing to me right now because I am still hobbling a bit after relatively short runs compared to the distances they talk about in this book, which routinely exceed 50 miles at a crack.
Now, I realize I wasn’t “born to run,” or was I? The last chapter I read is mainly focused on the zen of running and what is going on in the mind of the Tarahumara as they glide across the the hilliest of terrain. The thing most people notice when watching Tarahumara run is how happy they seem.
There is a great story, told by Kenneth Chlouber, the founder of one of the world’s most treacherous trail runs, The Leadville 100, that summed it up for me.
Chlouber was hanging out at the 60 mile mark where medical staff checks vitals of runners that reach that point. He said most are starting to get angry by then. The terrain is pulverizing and after getting clearance to continue, runners must hike up a very steep dirt hill to get back on the trail. He said most runners struggle and often crawl to the trail, but the Tarahumara were climbing it like kids, smiling and laughing while they sort of skipped their way to the top.
It was literally like they were still kids. That impulse to have fun while you run had never left them. They ran to run and while the race was clearly a race, they never thought of it that way. It was a new adventure.