The Sunday Read: Global running: Boston, Kenya, Ethiopia

It’s pouring out there. You’re not really going to run in that, are you? Of course you are! You’re a runner. But once you’re done, this week’s Sunday Read is home waiting for you with stories of running from around the globe this week.

With its normal cosmopolitan wit, The New Yorker offers a short, wry piece on this year’s Boston Marathon. Reeves Wiedeman describes the elite runners as mostly looking like “sticks,” but adds “some look like kangaroos: short stubby arms not moving at all as they bound past.” The piece is succinct and yet packs enough detail to impart the feeling of the race-day atmosphere. Read it here:

Over at The Atlantic, another publication not often given to covering running, associate editor Max Fisher tackles the thorny question of Why Kenyans Make Such Great Runners: A Story of Genes and Cultures. In synthesizing a lot of the research on Kenyan runners, Fisher writes, “For such a popular, straightforward question, there’s less consensus than you might think.” Fisher says racial politics have complicated the research, noting: “There’s a nasty history, after all, to white scientists evaluating the physical attributes of Africans.” However, he maintains while the research touches on some of the “most sensitive racial anxieties of Western-African relations… it’s also an amazing story of human biodiversity.” His piece is here:

From Kenya, a nation of runners, we move to Bekoji, a town of runners. A Town of Runners is, in fact, the title of a new documentary that examines how one small place in Ethiopia has managed to turn out so many world-class distance runners. According to the summary at Outside Online, partial credit goes to local running coach Sentayehu Eshetu, “but it’s also the proximity to success: In a town as small as Bekoji, it’s easy to be one friend or family member removed from a childhood running idol. ” An interview with the film’s director, Jerry Rothwell, may be read here:

This next story might be familiar to Twitter types: Jeffrey Miller is attempting to become the first person to run 365 marathons in 365 days. As I write this, he is currently running his 39th consecutive marathon. Miller was convicted of mail fraud and served over six years in federal prison. While incarcerated Miller became inspired by ultramarathoner Dean Karnazes, among others, and decided he would endeavor to inspire others through his example and a subsequent book on the experience he hopes to publish. Miller’s blog is here:

Why run only on your legs? Maybe you’re missing out on some speed. Well, you can draw your own conclusions from this offbeat piece that profiles a World Guinness record holder for – you guessed it – running on all fours. Tokyo’s Kenichi Ito, 29, has perfected a running style based on the African Patas monkey. Now that barefoot running and minimalism have already become mainstream, perhaps this could be the next big running trend. Decide for yourself here:


About subthree

A multiple award-winning journalist, I'm currently a contributing editor with both Canadian Running and Canadian Cycling magazines. My articles have appeared in Explore, Canadian Geographic, enRoute, The National Post, The Globe and Mail, and many other magazines and newspapers. Formerly a competitive cross-country mountain biker, I switched to running in 2006. I've run seven marathons, qualifying for Boston five times (and which I've run once). Generally, I've placed or won in my age group in races, in distances ranging from five and 10 kms to half and full marathons. I've also taught spin classes at a number of leading Eastern Canadian gyms. Sub-three was a 2012 #Runchat finalist for Best Overall Blog.
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