Born to Run

Christopher McDougall

Ultra-running has carved out a nice niche in the distance-running world. Anything longer than the standard 26.2-mile marathon is considered ultra, and, like any sport, this challenging one has its stars, burnouts and freaks of nature. Even if you’re familiar with the sport’s stars, though, there is one faction that might come as a surprise. Enter the Tarahumara, a tribe of Indians located in Mexico’s remote Copper Canyons. Favoring rickety sandals strapped to their feet to the latest running-shoe technology, and a simple lifestyle admirably based on the merits of healthy eating and long-distance running, they’re arguably the world’s best long-distance runners. They are so secretive and guarded, however, they’re almost like ghosts. Born to Run is their story, and features a cast of characters who regularly run 100 miles at a time over bone-dry desert hills. Layers of subplots reveal a society that, despite a harsh and unrelenting existence, has happily kept on running for generations. And the link between their world and ours (via a mysterious runner named Caballo Blanco) may hold the greatest secret of all. So, if the Tarahumara have been living like this for thousands of years—some still knocking out 70 daily miles of hills after retirement age—maybe we indeed are all born to run.