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DOWNHILL FROM HERE: Running From John O’Groats to Land's End by Gavin Boyter

DOWNHILL FROM HERE: Running From John O’Groats to Land's End by Gavin Boyter
02 Jul
John O’Groats to Land’s End may not be the most original long distance journey, but running it remains a fairly intense method of completion

Boyter’s attempt to finish Britain’s ultimate ultra-marathon – covering 1,174 miles – is captured here in all its painful, unpredictable detail. Including multiple injuries both prior to and during the run that will cause experienced runners and laymen alike to wince, it’s a revealing and brutally honest account of driving yourself to complete a challenge, no matter how much pain and suffering is required in order to do so.

From a geographical perspective there is plenty to enjoy, including picturesque descriptions of the Scottish Highlands, the Pennine Way, the coastal paths of Cornwall, and everything in between. Nevertheless, the first-person narrative does become somewhat repetitive, and plenty of the routine action, with the day-to-day aches and pains of the author, could probably have been skimmed out. This would have allowed for more in-depth stories about the landscape or the people, bringing some welcome variety. Furthermore, given the abundance of quality running books in stores these days, it wouldn’t have gone amiss to include some detail on running technique and specialist equipment, for the geeks who would have appreciated it.

Regardless, no perceived lack of originality or storytelling should detract from a remarkable achievement, especially since Boyter seems to have been injured almost the entire time (although, amazingly, completely lacking in punishing blisters). Running often well over a marathon every day over six weeks would be beyond the abilities of almost all of us even at the very peak of our physical fitness, and the added complications of there being no set route created conditions ripe for getting lost many times. It’s undeniably worth indulging in such a success.

Click here to purchase Downhill From Here by Dieter Helm

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