Podcast: Episode 83 with Christopher McDougall

By Mario Fraioli |
Photo: Matt Roth

“Their phrase they have at the Bird-In-Hand Half Marathon is, ‘The joy of running in community,’ and it’s on all their t-shirts, it’s on all their signs: the joy of running in community. And that’s why I struggle with this idea of competition because these guys are very hardcore runners: they’re fast, they’re strong, they do Ragnars, they do sub-3 hour marathons, but always as a gang, as a team, like a cross-country team. So those things began to sort of connect for me: I’m running with these Amish dudes, they all run together. I’m running with these donkeys, they’re all having fun. I would finish runs with the donkeys and my wife and my friend Zeke feeling way better than other runs because we were going slower, we were communicating, your consciousness is off yourself, it’s on somebody else, so for me, I just started to feel and see the effects of running as a group.”

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Great episode this week: I had the chance to sit down with New York Times best-selling author Christopher McDougall while he was on tour for his new book, Running with Sherman, which is a heartwarming story about training a rescue donkey to run one of the most challenging races in America.

McDougall also wrote the wildly popular Born To Run, and in this conversation we talked about both of those books, as well as running, writing, storytelling, community, competition, and a lot more.

Related links, references, and resources:

— Follow Chris on Instagram and Twitter.

Check out Chris’ website and learn more about his new book, Running With Sherman.

— “The thing about endurance sports is that the actual race is pretty anticlimactic,” McDougall told The Colorado Sun for an article about burro racing. “You get to the start line and you’ve done 90% of it already in preparing. I didn’t know quite how Sherman would do at altitude and with strange terrain. And I didn’t know how I would do.”

— “I submit: one has never really gone out for a proper run, unless one has shuffled through a cornfield in Amish country, dodging a donkey who’s trying to kick you with its hind legs while passing gas in your face,” Sean Gregory writes in a piece for Time. “That’s where I’ve found myself on this bright late-September morning in Peach Bottom, Pennsylvania, on a trot with author Christopher McDougall, his wife Mika, and a trio of asses.”

— McDougall’s latest book came about in part from his New York Times column of the same name: Running With Sherman. You can read those entries here.

This episode is brought to you by the 37th annual Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon, 10K & 5K. Run through San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, and along the Pacific Ocean on these fast and scenic courses. This event is presented by Pamakid Runners and supports local San Francisco Bay Area community organizations and nonprofits with donations of more than $75,000 per year. Mark your calendars—race day is February 2, 2020. Register today at getfitkpsf.com, and use code SHAKEOUT5 to save $5 on registration if you register before November 30, 2019.

Music and editing for this episode of the morning shakeout podcast by John Summerford at BaresRecords.com

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