Harvie was a younger man when he started running ultras, and has run much farther than I ever have. The Lure of Long Distances covers his running history, primarily the year he spent preparing for the Spartathlon, the annual 152 mile race from Athens to Sparta. He weaves in his training experiences, personal stories, reports from other races and runs along the way, anecdotes from history and modern running, and plenty of literary and poetic reflections. He writes skillfully, putting together some beautiful and effective passages.
|Harvie spent many hours running along the length of the Thames.|
This is not to say I didn't like the book. It was an enjoyable read. But sometimes when I finish reading a book about running, I want to put my shoes on and head out the door right away. This one made me sit back on the recliner and think about getting ready for bed.
The subtitle of the book, "Why We Run," is, in a way, a bit of false advertising. Harvie sets out to discover why he runs, but it's up to us to find our own way. He concludes, "Running is not about fitness, competition, or even other people. It is simply about becoming a more sentient person, living . . . a more authentic life." I'll buy that. But I still ask myself sometimes, "Why am I doing this again?"