It may come as a surprise to many people, but Japan is the most running-obsessed country on earth. A 135-mile relay race, or "ekiden" is the country's biggest annual sporting event. Thousands of professional runners compete for corporate teams in some of the most competitive races in the world. The legendary "marathon monks" run a thousand marathons in a thousand days to reach spiritual enlightenment.
Yet so much of Japan's running culture remains a mystery to the outside world, on par with many of the unique aspects of contemporary Japan. Adharanand Finn, the award-winning author of Running with the Kenyans, spent six months immersed in this one of a kind running culture to discover what it might teach us about the sport and about Japan.
As an amateur runner about to turn 40, he also hoped to find out whether a Japanese approach to training might help him run faster. What he learns—about competition, team work, form, chasing personal bests, and about himself—will fascinate and surprise anyone keen to explore why we run and how we might do it better.
Whether running is your recreation or your religion, Adharanand Finn’s incredible journey to the elite training camps of Kenya will captivate and inspire you, as he ventures to uncover the secrets of the fastest people on earth. Finn’s mesmerizing quest combines a fresh look at barefoot running, practical advice on the sport, and the fulfillment of a lifelong dream: to run with his heroes. Uprooting his family of five, Finn traveled to a small, chaotic town in the Rift Valley province of Kenya—a mecca for long-distance runners, thanks to its high altitude, endless paths, and some of the top training schools in the world. There Finn would run side by side with Olympic champions, young hopefuls, and barefoot schoolchildren, and meet a cast of unforgettable characters. Amid the daily challenges of training and of raising a family abroad, Finn would learn invaluable lessons about running—and about life.
With a new Afterword by the author.
“Not everyone gets to heaven in their lifetime. Adharanand Finn tried to run there, and succeeded. Running with the Kenyans is a great read.”—Bernd Heinrich, author of Why We Run
“Part scientific study, travel memoir, and tale of self-discovery, Finn’s journey makes for a smart and entertaining read.”—Publishers Weekly
“A hymn to the spirit, to the heartbreaking beauty of tenacity, to the joy of movement.”—The Plain Dealer