In this easy read, author Richard Gallegos details his journey from addiction to ultra running. In a memoir that is reminiscent of Mike Magnuson’s Heft on Wheels, Gallegos seemingly moved from one end of the spectrum to the other. His transformation is really quite astounding and should offer hope to anyone who feels too lost to find recovery. In reality, Gallegos seemed to channel his addictive personality for good, replaced a harmful addiction to drugs and alcohol with an addiction to ultra running. I was impressed as much with his transparency as I was his endurance. There is some foul language, and some gory depictions from his career as an EMT. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in the world of ultra running and/or recovery. I found it on Amazon for my kindle and at the time of this writing, it is free for those with a Kindle Unlimited account.
Mini Book Review of “A Blistering Pace” by Marc Frost, MD
I enjoyed this read for multiple reasons. First, I am am a big fan of race director Laz Lake, but I must admit I more familiar with his Backyard Ultras and Barkley Marathons. By reading this book, I was able to familiarize myself with his Heart of the South multi-day, multi-state format. My interest was really peaked when author Marc Frost shared he was suffering from a torn meniscus as he set out on this adventure. I am currently plagued by the same injury and need to find inspiration wherever available!
Frost details the adventure that is the Heart of the South in a way that is honest, humorous, and accessible. As a fellow older runner, I found this book greatly inspirational. And as a runner who never had much speed … I am happy events like the Heart of the South exist!
Frost shared in this book that he walked this entire event … and <spoiler alert> … he finished quite will. Knowing this makes me wonder if I could train for a similar adventure.
I highly recommend this book if you are interested in ultra distance running events.
Mini Book Review of “The Last Hike” by Lee Lovelace
I’ve recently been drawn to Appalachian Trail lore and history and have grown fascinated with the culture of the trail. In my quest to learn more and maybe even plan on some extended hiking trips of my own, I’ve been reading some journals and books authored by AT thru-hikers. I thought that was what I was reading when I picked up this title. The premise hooked me from the very beginning as the primary character reveals early in the book that his plan is to hike the entire Appalachian Trail and the commit suicide when he reached the end of the trail.
Little did I realize this book was a work of fiction. I will admit to a little bit of disappointment as I realized the characters and events surrounding the story were fictional, but then it occurred to me that my misunderstanding was a testament to how well the book was written. It was obvious the author was intimately familiar with the Appalachian Trail. Choosing the AT as at the backdrop for his story was nothing short of genius. Lovelace is at his best when exploring the Trail itself. From what I can tell, he captures the locations and culture perfectly.
I felt some of the characters were a little less convincing. Attachments and emotions between characters seemed to develop at an unrealistic pace which could, in all fairness I suppose, be attributed to the culture of the Trail itself. And while, it’s hard to explain, I had a hard time buying into some of the characters. Overall, however, these shortcomings didn’t detract from the appeal of the story, which is the trail itself.
I thoroughly enjoyed the book and found myself eagerly turning pages in an attempt to get to Maine with the principal characters.
Mini Book Review of “Run the Mile You’re In: Finding God in Every Step” by Ryan Hall
This book by Ryan Hall exists at the intersection or long distance running and faith. Hall, one the greatest American marathon runners ever, explores the role his Christian faith plays in his life and running career. Hall examines his running career from its very beginnings to end. Scripture frequently uses running as a metaphor for the Christian walk (Heb. 12:1, 2 Tim. 4:7, and elsewhere) and Hall’s memoir represents a practical application of that metaphor. Much of what Hall communicates about his relationship with God was learned through the lens of running. It is an excellent read. It is not, however, overly theological or doctrinal, which should allow Christians of different theological ilks to enjoy it.
Mini Book Review of ‘Never Finished’ by David Goggins
I must admit that I am a David Goggins fanboy. The guy is incredible. Its not often you find someone who not only “talks the talk” but “walks the walk”, but Goggins manages to do just that. There’sno denying his accomplishment. Navy Seal. Army Ranger School. Air Force Tactical air Controller Training. Ultrarunner. Ultracyclist. And, as I learned in this book, Medic and Fire Jumper. If anyone has earned the right to speak his mind and spout advices on toughness, it’s David Goggins.
This book chronicles Goggins’ attempt to complete Fire Jumping School after major knee surgery. It also details his attempt to recover his edge (not that he ever really lost it) as he entered his upper forties. In doing so, Goggin’s reveals his growth since his first book Can’t Hurt Me hit the shelves.
I happened to read this book at the right time in my life as I am currently struggling with a Meniscus tear and MCL injury that has shut my own running down for the year. At 52, I walk the fine the line between running long distances and doing damage to my knees and, I must admit, that it was cathartic to see Goggins face struggles of his own. The key to his success as it turns out has little to do with being a physical beast (although he is) and more to do with his mindset. Goggins has determined to be the best in all that he does and has put in the work to achieve it. His story is equal parts encouraging and daunting.
Disclaimer to all readers who are easily offended by bad language … Goggins writes like he talks. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Mini Book Review of “Lost on Purpose: Adventures of a 21st Century Mountain Man” by Patrick Taylor
Patrick Taylor set out to follow the Lewis and Clark Trail in the midst of winter; traversing some of the most dangerous terrain imaginable. This title serves as his journal throughout the adventure. On one hand, I found myself fascinated that such adventures were still possible in the modern day. On the other, I was put of by the author’s ego. He fancies himself a modern mountain main, and I would argue he is, but he is certainly impressed with himself … an it shows a bit. Despite the self adoration, Taylor’s adventure makes for an incredible read. His insistence to follow the exact path of Lewis and Clark places the author in some precarious situations and I found myself swept up in the tale. I do recommend this for anyone interested in the outdoors, hiking, or survival.
Mini Book Review of “Sauntering Thru: Lessons in Ambition, Minimalism, and Love on the Appalachian Trail” by Codey James Howell PHD
This book continued my trend of Appalachian Trail and hiking related titles in 2022. I again found myself fascinated by the idea of thru hiking the Appalachian Trail. Howell’s work only served to whet my appetite even more for such an experience. Howell, who goes by the trail handle of Raiden, intended this book as a sort of journal recording his day to day activities on the trail, however, in the end it turned into so much more. On the trail Raiden met his future wife Chilli Bin. As the pair make progress on the trail, readers are treated to an account of their deepening relationship. Time seems to stand still for the pair of hikers and I found myself sad for them both as the trail came to an end.
This book does a wonderful job of demonstrating the magical nature of the Appalachian Trail and serves to elevate it to nearly mythical proportions. It’s a wonderful read for any interested in the trail.
Mini Book Review of “Walking Home: Common Sense and Other Misadventures on the Pacific Coast Trail” by Rick Rogers
Having read multiple accounts of thru hikers on the Appalachian Trail, I wanted to switch it up and read something about the Pacific Coast Trail. Written, I suspect, as a tribute to his son who joined him for a portion of the hike, Rick Rogers’ book was exactly what I was looking for. Rogers approaches this hiking memoir in a clever, light-hearted manner. I especially enjoined his anecdotes about the people he encountered along the way. I was surprised to discover I became a tiny bit invested in these people and couldn’t help but wonder what had come of them after Rogers (trail name Finn) completed his thru hike.
Like other thru hiking memoirs I’ve read, this one is far less “how to” than it is simply Finn spinning a yarn about his hike. I am completely unfamiliar with the Pacific Coast Trail so I found this fairly interesting. Honestly, there were parts of this book that made the PCT fairly unappealing. The Appalachian Trail seems far superior with less odd ducks and deserts …. it did whet my appetite, however, to learn more about the PCT. I would love to visit sometime and hike its more appealing sections.
This one will appeal to anyone interested in the PCT.
Mini Book Review of “Only When I Step On It: One Man’s Inspiring Journey to His the Appalachian Trail Alone” by Peter Conti
Plagued by a past injury and chronic pain, this book chronicles author Peter Conti’s quest for healing on the Appalachian Trail. While not technically a thru hiker, Conti tackled the AT over the course of 2 years. His hypothesis was simple, to hike every mile of the AT, the chronic and severe pain he suffered from a hip injury would have to heal and, ultimately, disappear. Conti’s story is very much one of overcoming debilitation. I would recommend this for anyone who is at the wrong end of climb. It could be injury, age, weight, bad circumstances … whatever the obstacle, Conti’s story serves as an example of what can be accomplished with patience, grit, and determination.
Mini Book Review of “Did Not Finish: Misadventures in Running, Cycling, and Swimming” by George Mahood
Parts of this little book were witty and quite enjoyable and George Mahood is a talented writer, however, I grew tired if the random stream of conscience that meandered between running, biking, and swimming anecdotes. It was entertaining at best and irrelevant at worst. It was sort of like reading an extended magazine article … suited well for passing the time in a waiting room, but not much else.