Grove Press: Small Fry by Lisa Brennan-Jobs

The Rise of the Ultra Runners: A Journey to the Edge of Human Endurance

Ultra running (running a race of any distance greater than a marathon) has boomed in recent years. Experts estimate a 1,000% increase in the number of ultra races held around the world each year and, according to ULTRA magazine, the number of ultra finishers in the U.K. jumped from 595 in 2000 to 18,611 in 2017. But why, wondered self-identified "runner-geek" Adharanand Finn (Running with the Kenyans), would anyone want to run that far, that hard and for that long? That's what he sets out to answer in The Rise of the Ultra Runners. He uses his own experience training for--and running--one of the world's toughest ultramarathons to try to understand why this "admirable... courageous... mad and insane" sport has seen such a rise in popularity.

Documenting 18 months of training and 10 ultramarathon finishes, Finn leaves no stone unturned in his journey to understand ultra running. He registers for races of increasing distances (from a 50k to a 100-miler) across varied terrain (the desert, a track loop in London, the mountains of France) and speaks to as many elite participants as he can along the way. While The Rise of Ultra Runners will be most appealing for those who have dabbled in, or been intrigued by, the sport, any reader who has wondered about his or her own limits will revel in Finn's stories of the grit and determination it takes to finish one of these races. After all, as ultra runner Elisabet Barnes told Finn, "It's always interesting to push your boundaries. If you always succeed you don't know where your limits are." --Kerry McHugh, blogger at Entomology of a Bookworm