Title: Strides: Running Through History with an Unlikely Athelete
Author: Benjamin Cheever
Fun Fact: There is a marathon through the Médoc region of France where wine is served at the water stops.
Review Summary: A little choppy and light on the history, but still a fun read with both moving and humorous stories about running.
The subtitle of this book is a little misleading. There are some stories about running throughout history, but they’re almost all purely anecdotal. There are a few citations at the back, but they’re fairly sparse, and much of the history is actually myth. I would describe it more as a musing on running, comprising many humorous and touching anecdotes about the author’s experience with the sport. This includes everything from doing a 10-K in Baghdad to participating in the wine-drinking marathon mentioned above.
There were parts of this book I liked a lot. I liked that the author interviewed professional athletes and other experts to add to his own perspective. I liked his perspective, especially on his own experiences, since these were often told with the most humor. And I liked seeing the enthusiasm and love the author clearly feels for running. As a non-runner, it was interesting to see what draws people to running and what the challenges are. It sounds as though on of the great benefits of running is the feeling of community. That was conveyed through a variety of poignant stories.
One downside of the book was the complete mix of topics, from funny to moving stories and from myth to history to musings on running. The author would often make a point, relate a few anecdotes, make that point or another point, and than return with more anecdotes. As a result, the book felt somewhat choppy. I also would have liked to see more research and more history, both of which were smaller components of the book than I expected based on the description and subtitle. Of course, someone looking for something different, particularly someone looking to read another runner’s thoughts on running, might enjoy this book a lot more. Given how funny some of the anecdotes were, I might pick up a memoir or a comedy he’s written since those might be more for me.