Christopher McDougall is a masterful storyteller. His stories, however, are jammed full of research about the human body and our remarkable ability to do (endure) great things. Sherman is a rescue donkey that McDougall found near where he lives. Not expected to even live, Sherman proves that his is “The Donkey with the Heart of a Hero.” Soon after saving the donkey’s life, a plan is hatched to race Sherman in a grueling race in Colorado. Oh and he has around a year to train the critter.
““Look,” she said. “If he makes it, you can’t just stick a ribbon on his tail and leave him standing in a field like Eeyore. He’s been abused and abandoned, and that can make an animal sick with despair. You need to give this animal a purpose. You need to find him a job.” A job? What was I going to do with a donkey, prospect for gold? Pioneer westward? But before I even asked what she meant, I got an idea. Nah, that’s ridiculous, I thought to myself, and kept my mouth shut. No way was I going to share this with Tanya and look even more helpless and out of my depth than I already did. Still, the more she worked on the grim wreckage of Sherman’s body, the more I circled back to this fantasy. I couldn’t let it go, and I realized why: focusing on a glorious fairy tale was a lot more pleasant than the ugly reality that was kicking us in the face.”
If you want great stories, want to learn about the human body, and hear wonderful life lessons, you have to read this very entertaining and witty book. Even a non-runner like me enjoyed racing along in spirit with McDougal and his cohorts. Consider this teaser…Amish racers.
““Be careful you don’t trash an ankle,” I warned. “The first half mile is super scrabbly.” Karl Meltzer, the ace ultrarunner who set the Appalachian Trail speed record, once said that of all 2,200 miles he ran across fourteen states, Pennsylvania had the most punishing rocks. They seem to grow straight out of the ground like fangs, jutting up so you feel like you’re dancing your way through the mouth of a monster shark. Luckily, the maze was that bad only at the beginning; we faced a half mile or so of shark’s teeth before the trail softened into nice, hardpacked dirt. Flower and I took point.”