The best books about runners, records, and the remarkable human spirit

Andy Mouncey Author Of So You Want to Run an Ultra: How to Prepare for Ultimate Endurance
By Andy Mouncey

Who am I?

I think that we’re all a Work In Progress whatever our relative levels of success so I’m drawn to people who share that belief, are way out there and are still working on their own stuff. Especially if they’ve managed to do so without becoming a righteous arse in the process. ‘Cos I want reasons to be reminded how incredible it can be to use as much of what we’ve been given and be ALIVE in every sense of the word. I want to keep learning and growing and getting stronger and faster and more bombproof and compassionate and connected as I moved through my fifth decade and beyond. These books really resonate with me – I hope they will for you too.

I wrote...

So You Want to Run an Ultra: How to Prepare for Ultimate Endurance

By Andy Mouncey,

Book cover of So You Want to Run an Ultra: How to Prepare for Ultimate Endurance

What is my book about?

So you want to run an Ultramarathon. It all looks a very long way, doesn't it? It can't be good for you, it can't be fun and surely you have to be some kind of super-athlete to be able to run that far?

This book shows that it is a very long way, that it can be good for you, and that you most certainly don't have to be super-human to finish one. It also goes further by inspiring you to get started and by guiding you each step of the way. So, whether you're just curious to know more about this fast-growing global sport or searching for the right answers to your own ultra-running breakthrough, this book will prove as valuable as your favourite running shoes.

The books I picked & why

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Runaway Comrade

By Bob de la Motte,

Book cover of Runaway Comrade

Why this book?

An enthralling account of one man’s quest to win the oldest ultramarathon in the world through the prism of apartheid South Africa in the ’70s and ’80s. Not only is it an incredibly intimate account but also a fascinating insight into international politics and business machinations during that turbulent time.

British Marathon Running Legends of the 1980s

By Gabrielle Collison,

Book cover of British Marathon Running Legends of the 1980s

Why this book?

Britain used to be a hotbed of marathon talent that ruled the world over 26.2 miles decades before Lottery funding. This is a collection of 21 interviews of men and women who left their mark on the sport often by force of will alone. For those of us who grew up watching these people – and I was one - this is the how and why they did it which at the time was the bit that was never really in the spotlight. So it squares the circle for me. And for those of you who came later – welcome to Old School…


By Ally Beavan,

Book cover of Broken: 2020: the year running records were rewritten

Why this book?

Ally Beavan had a ringside seat during the lockdown year of 2020 as a few special ultrarunners lined up to take a shot at many of the long-standing records in the sport. As support crew, pacer, or simply cheerleader on many of these attempts, Beavan puts us right where the action is for a rare and often entertaining insight into what a very special time if you could run a long way very fast. I was compelled, informed, and entertained in equal measure.

The Art of Resilience

By Ross Edgley,

Book cover of The Art of Resilience

Why this book?

Once again this is about so much more than the incredible physical feat involved in swimming a lap of Great Britain. Ross Edgley is also a student of the world with the smarts and courage to write his own rule book. Once again this is an engaging mix of the deeply personal, science, philosophy, and the humanity of community that has to come together to make extraordinary stuff possible.