Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Running with the Kenyans: Passion,…

Running with the Kenyans: Passion, Adventure, and the Secrets of the…

by Adharanand Finn

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1261795,586 (3.45)11



Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 11 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
Adharanand Finn, a casual runner who "might have been really good" and also a writer for Runner's World magazine, sets out to realize the dream of many runners, visit what one journalist has called "The Halls of the Mountain Kings," the town on the edge of the Rift Valley that is the epicenter of the Kenyan running explosion. Over the past 15 years, Kenyans from one particular ethnic group, the Kalenjin, have nearly completely dominated distance running from the 10K to the marathon. Their dominance, challenged only by their geographic neighbors from Ethiopia, has become so overwhelming that some major marathons have offered considerable incentives to encourage runners from other countries to try to break the hold of Kenyans over top places.

Finn is able to live and run in Iten, Kenya, the county seat town where many of the best runners train at a variety of training camps. His goal is to discover the "secret" of Kenyan running success. As the spouse of a Kalenjin former runner for the past 30 years, I have lived and worked within the culture and was prepared to dislike this book, as so many brief visits by "running investigators" have led to vacuous descriptions of children running six miles to school, uphill both ways no doubt(ever wonder why they never build the schools near anybody's house? yeah, I'm being sarcastic) and the possibility that the running culture comes from the Kalenjin's history as cattle raiders or their habit of drinking soured milk. However, Finn's book is actually well-written, entertaining, and inspiring. Finn is culturally sensitive to realize that he is missing things socially, and this sensitivity and humble attitude is disarming. He also puts a serious effort into his running, but is realistic about his own goals and puts the focus on the dual theme of his own struggles as a runner and the stories of the Kenyans he meets and trains with. I don't think he's right to so completely dismiss the possibility of some as-yet unidentified genetic factor in Kenyan success, but that's really not the point of the book. It's a great read that I would recommend to anyone with even a passing interest in running or in Kenya. ( )
  kaitanya64 | Jan 3, 2017 |
Started very weak, I had concerns about the colonialist to be in first few chapters. however once the story moved to Item & Eldoret, the Kenyans were presented as more human & less super hero or other.

I ended up really liking it & agree with the assessment that Be. Colm O'Connel is one of the few mzungu not exploiting the Kalenjin. ( )
  nnschiller | Sep 18, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I enjoyed this book much more than I thought I would. I thought the premise was interesting, but I'm not a runner and running sounds so utterly unappealing to me. Finn made me see why someone might want to run and also gave a good glimpse into a particular segment of a particular society (runner in Kenya) that I didn't really know anything about - and his descriptions of Kenya made the landscape sound appealing and beautiful (something I hadn't thought about Kenya before).

I picked this up during the Olympics, after watching the Men's 800 meter race, won by Kenyan David Rudisha. This made the book that much more engaging to me, especially since Finn trains in the Kenyan town of Iten, where David Rudisha is also training.

If you like "triumph of the wills" type stories, I think you will enjoy this one (even if you don't like running!) ( )
  cransell | Aug 23, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
What is it about the Kenyans? In the world of running they are the crazy-fast superstars. They seem to shatter world records as an afterthought and amass place medals with a regularity that is astonishing. But what is their secret? Is it their training, their diet, their running equipment (or lack thereof)? Or is it some special magic that only Kenyans possess? Author Adharanand Finn is determined to find out.

Finn is a runner and a freelance writer for the UK version of "Runner's World". As such, he is fascinated by the Kenyans. So much so that he decides to go to the source and see for himself what they are doing and how they are doing it. Uprooting his young family (kudos to his wife!) for an extended stay in Kenya, Finn immerses himself in the world of Kenyan running. Running and training alongside elite runners and hardworking hopefuls, Finn sets himself the goal of running the Flouspar race - a 13.1 mile half marathon (uphill all the way) - that has developed into a rite of passage for Kenyan runners.

Interesting, poignant, and at times funny, this book immerses you in African culture and the cult that is Kenyan running. A great book to read for any runner but non-runners interested in African culture shouldn't pass this one by. Photos at the beginning of each chapter make the stories all the more personal and interesting. So what is it about the Kenyans? Their barefood running? Their ugali diet? Their training regime? Or is it just that nebulous quality known as 'heart'? To find out, read this book. ( )
  buchowl | Jul 20, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
First words
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345528794, Hardcover)

“A dusty road stretches into the distance like a pencil line across the arid landscape. Lions, rhino, and buffalo roam the plains on either side. But I haven’t come to Kenya to spot wildlife. I’ve come to run.”
Whether running is your recreation, your religion, or just a spectator sport, Adharanand Finn’s incredible journey to the elite training camps of Kenya will captivate and inspire you. Part travelogue, part memoir, this mesmerizing quest to uncover the secrets of the world’s greatest runners—and put them to the test—combines practical advice, a fresh look at barefoot running, and hard-won spiritual insights.
As a boy growing up in the English countryside, Adharanand Finn was a natural runner. While other kids struggled, he breezed through schoolyard races, imagining he was one of his heroes: the Kenyan long-distance runners exploding into prominence as Olympic and world champions. But as he grew up, pursued a career in journalism, married and had children, those childhood dreams slipped away—until suddenly, in his mid-thirties, Finn realized he might have only one chance left to see how far his talents could take him.
Uprooting his family of five, including three small children, Finn traveled to Iten, a small, chaotic town in the Rift Valley province of Kenya—a mecca for long-distance runners thanks to its high altitude, endless running paths, and some of the top training schools in the world. Finn would run side by side with Olympic champions, young hopefuls, and barefoot schoolchildren . . . not to mention the exotic—and sometimes dangerous—wildlife for which Kenya is famous.
Here, too, he would meet a cast of colorful characters, including his unflappable guide, Godfrey Kiprotich, a former half marathon champion; Christopher Cheboiboch, one of the fastest men ever to run the New York City Marathon; and Japhet, a poor, bucktoothed boy with unsuspected reservoirs of courage and raw speed. Amid the daily challenges of training and of raising a family abroad, Finn would learn invaluable lessons about running—and about life.
Running with the Kenyans is more than one man’s pursuit of a lifelong dream. It’s a fascinating portrait of a magical country—and an extraordinary people seemingly born to run.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:20 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Whether running is a recreation, a passion, or just a spectator sport, Finn's incredible journey to the elite training camps of Kenya will captivate. Part travelogue, part memoir, this quest uncovers the secrets of the world's greatest runners--and puts them to the test.… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

LibraryThing Early Reviewers Alum

Adharanand Finn's book Running with the Kenyans was available from LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

Sign up to get a pre-publication copy in exchange for a review.

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
1 avail.
15 wanted

Popular covers


Average: (3.45)
1 3
2 2
2.5 1
3 8
3.5 6
4 11
4.5 2
5 4

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


You are using the new servers! | About | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 117,015,327 books! | Top bar: Always visible