By Harley McAllister
By all accounts I am the most average of endurance athlete. The longest I’ve run is a mere 10 miles, and the longest I’ve hiked is less than a week. So, when I saw that Jennifer Pharr Davis, a world class athlete, had written a book titled “Endurance”, I wondered if much that she had written would apply to me or hold my interest. However, once I started reading, I found it hard to put this book down.
The author once hiked the entire Appalachian Trail, over 2,100 miles, in just 46 days. That amounts to 47 miles per day on average, and she held the record for the Fastest Known Time for 4 years. The record has been beaten now a few times, but not by much, and in this book she sets out to provide the backstory of the various record holders in an attempt to find commonality and glean some lessons learned about what it is in the human soul that makes such accomplishments, such feats of endurance, possible. The results are fascinating, and not a little bit surprising.
After meeting many of the luminaries in the world of “Fastest Known Times” for the nation’s longest trails, what is striking about them is not their similarities but rather their dramatic differences. Each is an individual with a unique story to tell, and the author tells these stories in a way that is introspective at times and insightful always. I sort of expected the book to be a summary of what the latest science has to say about nutrition, training, preparation, etc., and how it could be applied to weekend warrior athletes like myself. What I found instead is that endurance has much more to do with the human spirit, and that its lessons and applications can be applied not just to my fleeting athletic endeavors, but much more to the inevitable ups and downs that life will throw our way. Each of the athletes in this book has had their own life struggles to deal with and found answers on these long trails that helped them overcome and lead better lives. In reading about them you will come to see not how different from them you are, but how similar. And in reading about their lives, challenges, and accomplishments, you are sure to find something in there that inspires you and encourages you to endure on your own long journey of life.
Harley & Abby McAllister
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