I read this book last year but came across it again on the shelf and remembered how much I enjoyed it. The title is also very similar to that of this blog so I thought I'd write about it as a recommended read.
The book is unique in that it is made up of several themes that switch throughout the read but ultimately come together at the end:
- A diary of a running calendar, detailing the various races that take place throughout the year, not just in Britain but Alaska, the Alps and other foreign destinations where British runners may be competing.
- A history lesson, not delivered simply as a bunch of facts and records, but written in a style which encapsulates the prestige with which the sport once prided itself on. Some of the stories recalled during these chapters sound almost implausible and boggle the mind to think what physical trauma men put their bodies through in the name of sport. The detailed history of the Bob Graham round is particularly fascinating, and Askwith serves it to the reader in such an enthusiastic way.
- An in-depth look at the personalities that made the sport what it was, Joss Naylor, Kenny Stuart and Bill Teasdale to name a few. Askwith interviews several of the sports iconic figures in the book which I found to be much more interesting than simply reading a log of achievements.
All in all, I loved this read. On more than one occasion whilst reading, I found myself wanting to get up and get my runners on and head for the nearest hill. I didn't though as I was so engrossed with the book. Theres no doubt, this book is inspiring and its clear to see how much research and effort has gone into retelling the history of the sport. Askwith is someone who has a great passion for the sport and it shows.
I just wish I had the balls (or the nerve, time, fitness, energy, willpower, drive etc etc) to get into it myself.