Monday, July 09, 2012

Nonfiction Monday: Running to Extremes

Running to Extremes: Ray Zahab's Amazing Ultramarathon Journey Steve Pitts

Ray Zahab lacked direction. He drank a lot and smoked a pack a day. He was just getting through life when he realized he needed a change. Several relatives had recently died, sooner than they should, and mostly due to complications from the same lifestyle Ray was living. It was time for a change, so he stopped smoking, cut back on the drinking, and started running. When he heard about the Yukon Ultramarathon (160km in extreme arctic conditions) he thought "why not" and signed up. Never mind that he had never run an actual marathon before. Nevermind that he didn't have the right gear to survive or the training to complete it. Off he went.

Once there, he met other dedicated ultramarathoners who gave him some tips and befriended him. Then, when the ultramarathon started, he ran. And ran. And ran.

And won.

He soon signed up for more ultra-marathons. He quickly learned that he wasn't as prepared as he had to be. He suffered severe injury and setbacks, but he kept signing up and kept getting better. A few years after his first ultra-marathon, he and some of his new running friends decided to run across Northern Africa, for fun. Parts were great, parts were horrible, but they did it.

Zahab started doing more and more long solo runs to raise awareness and money for different causes. He then started Impossibile2Possible, which helps teach kids to reach their dreams, no matter how crazy they seem.

Pitt rights a gripping and readable account of Zahab's life and running. It was one of those books that I picked up thinking I'd read a few pages and then go start dinner and the next thing I know, the book is done and my stomach is loudly protesting.

Seriously, who says "Hmm... let's go run this ultramarathon through the Arctic for shits and giggles?" Zahab's pretty badass and it's pretty cool that he found a way to turn extreme long distance running into something he could use to help other people.

Sadly, this book isn't available in the US (Zahab's Canadian and so is the book.)

Today's Nonfiction Monday roundup is over at A Curious Thing.

Book Provided by... the publisher, for Cybils consideration

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