Saturday, January 9, 2010
Audiobook Review: Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All Night Runner
As I mentioned to you before I recently started subscribing to Audible. I have listened to three books in the three months I have subscribed. Most recently I listened to Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All night Runner by Dean Karnazes. I have both read and listened to this book.
In the curious case of Ultramarathon Man, let me preface this a little. When I first read this book about 4 years ago I borrowed it from the library. I had heard a lot of mixed reviews about the book not so much that it was poorly written but rather the subject matter being self glorifying, egotistical etc. That being the case I didn’t want to spend my hard earned money on something I might find worthy of the waste basket. I gave it a read and actually enjoyed it. At the time I wasn’t an ultrarunner and only aspired to be one. Reading about someone go through every agonizing step from couch to ultrarunner was just what I wanted to see and read. To read accounts of Western States and Badwater, two of the classics in the world of ultras is kind of can’t miss literature in my narrow minded , tunnel vision view of literature.
A few years later I read Karnazes’ book 50/50 Fifty Marathons in Fifty States in Fifty Days it was his follow up book. I bought that book because I enjoyed the first one so much. That book was okay but just okay. I guess when you know the outcome of the story it becomes more or less a series of 50 race reports hardbound into a book. Don’t get me wrong I love race reports but this book could have been and probably was Dean’s blog (I can only speculate). I love blogs but for someone looking for great literature or a great story or something epic then look elsewhere.
Fast forward a few years to me purchasing the Audible audiobook Ultramarathon Man. As it goes the book is half as long as the other books I have purchased so on a dollars per word value it is a little short. I had run a couple of ultras and remember the stories as being empathetic . Listening to the book the stories are still great and after completing a couple of ultramarathons I still found it inspirational. Now here is the ‘BUT’.
Only after hearing the words come off the page and into my ears I had to shake my head. Maybe I am too modest. Maybe I should toot my horn a little more than I do. I am proud of my running accomplishments and maybe I should flaunt it more. Whatever the case (I am choosing my words carefully) I have maintained a bodyweight and body fat content consistent with my running lifestyle. So even in this little blog of mine which very few people read I would never refer to myself as cut, ripped, muscular, single digit body fat or whatever would make a reader envision something that I may be but modesty wouldn’t allow me to say. When I heard the narrator say these words written autobiographically by Dean I thought it was a little much. I honestly don’t remember reading this the first time through the book or maybe I just blocked them out. After the first cut/ripped reference I passed it off but soon came the second, third and fourth reference and I thought too much.
Have you ever gone on the Ultra List? It is kind of a throw back to the early days of emailing before chat rooms and Yahoo Groups and the like. Without going into too much detail about how it works let’s just say the threads are various and can go on for quite some time. Most or all of the participants are hardcore ultrarunners with various pedigrees so their opinions are valid and not some couch potatoes or armchair quarterbacks putting in their two cents. Mention Dean Karnazes or simply DK on the Ultra List and you get a long continuous thread of Dean bashing with only the occasional ‘but he was so inspirational to me’. In his defense he is very inspirational, his accomplishments are incredible and I never really polarized myself one side or the other. Now after listening to the book and hearing the blatant lack of modesty I see where the bashing gets its fuel. Dean deserves all the attention he gets both good and bad.
Bottom Line: Would I buy the book or audiobook again? Hell yes, I just told you it was inspirational even if it does make we wince when I hear the word ripped.