Kenyan athletes completely dominate middle- and long-distance running. Wanting to understand this inimitable ability, English runner and Runner's World contributor Adharanand Finn went to Kenya to investigate and perhaps reignite his own passion for the sport. In Running with the Kenyans, he proffers a theory many readers of Christopher McDougall's Born to Run will appreciate: perhaps the Kenyans' success comes from learning to run barefoot. So Finn tries barefoot running himself, with mostly positive results, though he is chagrined to learn most Kenyan runners find the practice trite and parochial.
Finn is too clever a writer and too observant of a runner to oversimplify, though, and what he uncovers about the Kenyans is much too complex to fit in a one-size-fits-all basket. As he works on his own running struggles, he shows a sensitive eye for the Kenyan people and the countryside where he and his friends run and train. He also brings his wife and children, and their takes on Kenya offer some grace notes that don't enter into most sports narratives. Running with the Kenyans is an artfully illustrated, moving tribute to the Kenyan people and to the bliss and blisters that running brings--an inspirational tale of one runner going to the ends of the earth to recover his athletic mojo. --Donald Powell, freelance writer