North — Scott Jurek

I really enjoyed reading Scott’s earlier book ‘Eat and Run’, so i was really looking forward to giving this a read.

To sum this book up, this is one of the greatest ultra runners of all time who, after having retired from professional competition, gets his outdoor fix by going hiking along stretches of the PCT with his wife and best friend, Jenny.   During one of these hikes they have a big argument and Scott has a bit of a existential crisis and decides he needs to fix himself by returning to suffering and tells Jenny that he’s going to attempt the Appalachian Trail FKT.

Best of all is that he manages to rope Jenny in as his sole support crew member in a converted van suitably named ‘Castle Black’ by telling her that it’ll be a great family summer holiday for their small family of two.

As we go through each chapter of the book we are introduced to each section of the trail, beginning with Scott’s perspective on it followed by Jenny’s.   And what a journey it is.   It’s utterly ridiculous, but also utterly amazing at the same time.   And if you aren’t a bit soggy eyed at the end then you is heartless.

An amazing journey with an amazing couple of human beings — and a ton of friends, old and new, who helped big time along the way and made it all possible.

If, like me, you enjoyed Scott’s first book, then make sure you give this a read some time.


On 2nd July 2019, Scott and Jenny Jurek made an appearance on the ‘Plant Strong Podcast’ in which they both talk a fair bit about this massive journey they went on together — well worth a listen: ‘Fueled by Plants: Scott & Jenny Jurek’

Scott’s Page

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Breatheology — Stig Avall Severinsen

Being a four time world champion freediver, Stig certainly knows a thing or two about breathing and he lays it all out in this great book that is aimed at everyone who wishes to improve their health, fitness and wellbeing — not just freedivers.

Breathing is one of the most important things we do in life, if not the most important, yet we pay so little attention to it until something goes horribly wrong.

Stig’s book explains pretty much everything you needed to know about good breathing practise and how to achieve a much more healthier life with a great variety of exercises that will improve your breathing.   And you don’t need to be a great athlete to benefit from this book.   Even people bedridden with disabilities can benefit from some of these simple to practise exercises.

So whether you’re a freediver or not, it’s a great book to have on your shelf.

Stig’s Page

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Eat and Run – Scott Jurek

Or to give it its full title… ‘Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness’.

This is a great book by Scott Jurek one of ultra’s greatest ever competitors.   Like ‘Finding Ultra’ by Rich Roll, this book doesn’t go into training for ultras or anything like that, it just chronicles Scott’s journey from childhood through to ultramarathon champion and how he got there, with great accounts of some of his greatest races.

And also like Finding Ultra’s writer, Rich Roll, Scott Jurek is also a vegan, or ‘plant based athlete’ which seems to be the more politically correct term vegan athletes are choosing theses days.   And sprinkled liberally throughout the book are lots of Scott’s favourite recipes for you to try if you so wish.   In a lot of ways it’s like a vegan cook book with a great story shoved in between the recipes.

Well worth a read.   Especially for those with any designs on endurance training or participating in endurance sports.

Scott’s Page

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Run Wild — Boff Whalley

Before we go any further, i do need to state that there are a couple of mentions of Jimmy Saville in the book, a keen city marathon runner, which obviously some people may find too distressing.   The book was written just before the truth came out and i think it’s fair to say that these mentions would not have made the final cut had Boff known at the time.   It’s incredible how angry one can feel just reading about Saville like this, how he had so many people fooled with his charity work, like he was one of the good people.   CUNT!!!   Nuff said!

So yeah, i found myself in the library the other day just having a mooch around seeing what books they had on health, fitness and wellbeing, and also Dartmoor.   And i came across a book titled ‘Run Wild’ and couldn’t resist the temptation to have a look at the cover notes.

What made me take the book home was that it is written by Boff Whalley, one of the founders of Chumbawamba, which used to be one of my favourite ever bands, before they signed for EMI and had that awful hit, ‘Tubthumping’.   I never forgave them for signing for (selling out to) EMI and never will.   Half the original band left (the very day i had a ticket to go and see them in Camden so the gig got cancelled at the last minute just adding to my disdain towards the whole fiasco) and had to be replaced and what the world saw as Chumbawamba when they played Tubthumping was not the Chumbawamba that i, and many others, had known, respected, admired and totally loved.   And i really did love that band.

But Chumbawamba EMI sell out issues aside, the fact that Boff had written a book about running, and wild running at that, had me really eager to take the book home and give it a read, and i was not disappointed.

What’s sad is that a lot of people will never read this book because they’ll think it’s just another book all about running and how to run, and it isn’t.   It’s far more than that.   It’s a great look at society as a whole through the lens of a wild runner, but with an anarchist, a punk, a musician, a father of two young children, guiding your view.

The book doesn’t at all go into any advice on how to run, other than why to stay away from the cattle herding of big city marathons and to get out into the countryside trails and just enjoy the freedom they offer, and in so doing it’s a very approachable book even for non runners.

One of the paragraphs i feel that sums the book up is this one…

It’s not sponsored or televised, but it’s all fun.   All this tripping over tree roots and not knowing precisely where I’m going and falling like a clown into rivers.   But it is, I swear — it’s fun.   It’s not (as some have described it) like going back to being a child again, as if in regression.   It’s just that the natural, exuberant, no-holds-barred playfulness we have as humans is educated out of us as we get older, squeezed out by convention and responsibility.   Responsibility!   Our first responsibility must surely be to enjoy ourselves.   To have our children see us enjoying ourselves, so they might grow up thinking that, yes, life is a quest for joy, not a set pattern of inhibitions and denials.   Adults, scared of looking foolish, won’t even run for a bus they’re about to miss.   Somehow, as we grew older, running became silly, part of a job lot of joys and pleasures that, as we turn from kids to adults, we’re supposed to tie up in a big hessian sack and throw into the nearest canal, where they can sink with a splash, a glug and a muffled yelp.

Also from the book…

‘People must not do things for fun.   We are not here for fun.   There is no reference to fun in any act of Parliament.’  (A. P. Herbert, British politician)

That said, it’s also a great book for runners, both runners of man made surfaces and runners of natural surfaces and anyone either thinking of taking up running or has just started and not sure what direction their running wants to take them.

So if you live in Devon then you should be able to order this book through any Devon library from Exmouth library.   Other libraries may vary.   Or buy it!   It’s worth the money.

And then go and have some good old fashioned fun – like you used to before you grew up!

Boff’s Page

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Finding Ultra – Rich Roll

Or to give it its full title… ‘Finding Ultra: Rejecting Middle Age, Becoming One of the World’s Fittest Men, and Discovering Myself’.

I came across Rich Roll and his exploits through my wanderings around the internet looking at all things triathlon and ultra athletics, which is my current ‘thing’ in case no one’s been keeping up lately.

Rich lays out his whole life from high school, college swim champion, heading for international sporting star only to discover a love for alcohol, drugs and parties, wrecking all hope of sporting glory forever. Then his continued destructive, choatic, drunken lifestyle through to his battle to get clean. And then his descent into junk food fueled, overweight, middle age from which he finally wakes up and becomes one of the world’s top ultra athletes, as a vegan, in his 40’s. It really is an inspiring book for anyone who has been through the chaos of addiction and has come out the other side with a new found desire for a healthier, fitter life – even if you don’t want to be an ultra athlete.

Rich also describes, fully, his experiences through his first two ‘Ultraman’ (a double length Ironman) races, and also his adventure with Jason Lester in creating and completing the first ‘Epic 5’ challenge (5 Ironmans in 5 days), now a staple on the ultra athletics calender. It’s astounding to realise just how much the middle aged human body can do and to hear it all from inside the mind of one of these competitors gives a whole new view of these extreme sports people.

And there’s certainly lots of food for thought also, literally, for anyone who is vegan, or is considering or training on a vegan diet. It’s certainly changed my diet as i recently went back to being a vegan half way through reading this and yesterday ran 15km at 50 years old, the farthest i’ve ran since i was in the army in my 20’s.

Worth a read!

Rich’s Page

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