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50 races to run before you die

by RunningPip
Monday 7th March 2016
’50 Races to run before you die’ is a beautiful book, in many ways.  To start with, what a great idea!  A book of fantastic races, all tried and tested (often more than once) by the author, presented in a very nicely produced and appealing book that would provide inspiring reading on any coffee table.  But this is far from just a coffee table filler. In 50 Races, Tobias has put together a very well rounded bucket list for runners of all abilities, each race with its own well-written commentary and guidance. 
The book is split into three sections, with races and events categorized into Good for Beginners, Sucker for Punishment, and Hard as Nails.  
Good for Beginners kicks off with ‘Tough Mudder’, goes via some running staples such as parkrun and the London Marathon, as well as the more obscure ‘UK Wife Carrying race’ and ‘The Gherkin Challenge’.  Incorporating longer distance team events with ‘adidas Thunder Run’, it finishes with the Cayman Island Marathon.  Who wouldn’t want to run the Cayman Islands Marathon??!! It’s on my list now for sure.
Sucker for Punishment takes you from the New York Marathon, via Tough Guy, and the Spartan Race, and races against ‘things’; Man Vs Horse and Race the Train, to the classic ‘Grizzly’ race. Despite comments about the Grizzly such as “my joy of being off the beach was short-lived as we slogged up what seemed like the first of what seemed like a thousand hills” Tobias does like and recommend this race; “Mark my words, this is one of the best races you’ll ever do”! 
Hard as Nails is a real distance runner’s dream, with races such as Jungle Ultra, Lavardeo Ultra Trail, the Ultra Trail du Mont-Blanc, and The Dragon’s Back all featuring amongst some other high and low profile serious challenges.  There are a lot of epic races in this section, and definitely the stuff of ultra runner dreams.
Each of these events comes with a key (giving location, terrain, distance, ascent, date, website, completion rate, the ‘fastest known’ finishing time, and, to prove the credentials of the author the ‘Tobias finish time’) and an insightful write up into the race itself, as well as an entertaining race report from Tobias.  
The races also come with their own top tips!  ‘Don’t drop your wife, she won’t appreciate it’, ‘Bring the gnarliest trainers with the most grip you can find’ and my personal favourite, ‘This is less of a race, and more of a journey, so enjoy yourself’.  Tobias has clearly thought about each of these, and they are bound to help once you get carried away with his enthusiasm and start entering some of these yourself.  If that doesn’t get you, the pictures throughout the book are beautiful, and highlight what an incredible array of different scenery and stunning views you can experience just by running! 
If there ever was a book title that was going to provoke interest and conversation around runners, this is it!  However, this does not set out to be a list of ‘the best’ or the ‘hardest’ races out there, but more a selection of 50 races, some local, others ‘destination’ that are sure to inspire the reader and give some structure and potential progression around the ‘runner’s dream’.  Completing any of these races would be a great achievement, all 50 is really quite special, and the passion for running comes across clearly in each write up.  In relation to the stats for the Transalpine-Run (300km, 16,000m ascent) Tobias writes “Although your nearest and dearest might be slightly alarmed by these figures, to an ultra-runner, it’s music to his ears.”  My nearest and dearest were slightly alarmed to see this book at all, let alone that specific race.
I really enjoyed reading about the races, the experience of Tobias’s successful attempts at the races, and getting lost in the fabulous photography.  Needless to say, at least one of these has been added to this years race calendar…

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