Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen - Review

Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen - Review

How It All Started

As a beginner runner, I am excited to read up more on running books. Therefore, as I was researching online for books to read, I found ‘Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen’ by Christopher McDougall. Although I was looking more for running techniques books, this book caught my eyes as it has many rave reviews.

Born to Run begins more like a fictional adventure story where McDougall was searching for a tribe of Mexican Indians known as the Tarahumara. These people were said to be the greatest runners in the world and McDougall is on a mission to find out their secret. This sounds more like an Indiana Jones plot rather than a running book. Of course, finding these elusive Tarahumara runners are not easy as they lived in Copper Canyons which is highly dangerous and difficult to get to.

Pure Excitement and Interesting Details

This story is not purely all about McDougall’s adventure, he also manages to add in stories about other aspects of the sport such as ultra-running. As you can tell from the name, ultra-marathons are basically marathons at much longer distances. There is even an exciting depiction of a race called the Leadville Trail 100 (a 100-mile race) in which the Tarahumara faced off against an ultra-running challenger named Ann Trason. This is one of the most exciting sections in the book thanks to McDougall’s narration because you cannot tell who is going to win until the very last moment.

Another surprising inclusion in the book is the fascinating tale about the scientific discoveries into our past. Contrary to popular beliefs, it was highly suggested that we humans are designed to run. In fact, we are better designed than all other animals to run long distances which is deemed as an evolutionary advantage. There is also the claim that running shoes are a big elaborate scam because they cause more injuries to runners ever since Nike introduced the first pair of running shoes. To be honest, I’m not sure what to make of this claim but the evidence they put forward are pretty convincing. It was mentioned that humans are meant for barefoot running or at least some form of minimalist running to protect our legs in modern times.

The Final Race

The last arc of the story is where McDougall teamed up with another mysterious character named Caballo Blanco, someone who had stayed at Copper Canyons for a couple of years and are friends with the Tarahumara. McDougall has gathered some of the best long-distance runners in the world such as Jenn Shelton, Billy “Bonehead” Barnett and Scott Jurek - named one of the greatest runners of all time. With the help of Caballo Blanco, McDougall brought them to challenge the Tarahumara to a race. These are some of the most interesting characters that you thought you can only find in a fiction book as Mcdougall brought them to life with their larger than life backgrounds.

The final race itself was rather short, I preferred the earlier race which is better depicted. However, the final race is not short of excitements but it seemed overly simple and straightforward to me. Nevertheless, it was still very moving and full of adrenalin when the race ended. I shall save the final winner as a surprise for when you read the book.


Overall, this is an excellent read for non-runners and runners alike. I wouldn’t call this book as far as a life changing read but it is close. There are enough mysteries, excitement, drama, tears and laughter to satisfy all readers. I highly recommend this book!