The best books on ultrarunning for amateur adventurers

Why am I passionate about this?

I want an adventurous life filled with experiences and challenges that make me appreciate the world around me. My experience in running 50 miles shows just how determined I am to lead an uncommon life. The books I’ve compiled here all share that one thing in common, they chronicle the author’s paths in following this mantra. Life is meant to be lived, no matter what form you find that in. I hope you find and nurture your adventurous life from these stories that were written from the heart.

I wrote...

The Impossible Long Run: My Journey to Becoming Ultra

By Janet Patkowa,

Book cover of The Impossible Long Run: My Journey to Becoming Ultra

What is my book about?

If you think you want to run an ultra marathon, you don’t, trust me. 

Are you still reading? Oh boy, then you are about to go down a very difficult road and you’re going to need all the help you can get. The Impossible Long Run chronicles my journey to a 50-mile race, and it can help you do the same. I show you that it is possible. Not easy! But possible. I chose to do this because I wanted to shake up my cozy 9 to 5 existence. This race jumpstarted my adventure-seeking life that I continue to pursue because running a 50-mile race taught me that I can do anything I put my mind to.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Bedtime Adventure Stories for Grown Ups

Janet Patkowa Why did I love this book?

Although the author is a runner, these stories don’t focus solely on that, but the adventures she can do because she is a runner. Anna speckles her life with adventures she can manage all the time instead of waiting for an epic adventure that you might only get to once or twice a year. She embodies my philosophy that life is meant to be lived. Do what inspires you right now. Sometimes that’s a race with a team number, and sometimes it’s a climb to the top of a mountain. Anna retells her tales of adventure in a collection of fun stories about epic undertakings and colors her stories with personality. 

By Anna McNuff,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bedtime Adventure Stories for Grown Ups as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


★★★★★ "Just magic!"

★★★★★ "Feels like chatting to your (slightly adventure mad) friend over a warming drink"

★★★★★"Funny, relatable... just brilliant."

★★★★★ "Makes you want to leave your safe, comfortable sofa and explore the amazing, big, wide world"

★★★★★ "I was trying to ration myself to one story each night before bed... but I devoured it."

★★★★★ "Left me inspired and itching to get back out in the great outdoors!"

★★★★★ "A neat little shot of adventure inspiration"

★★★★★ "Anna is an adventure storytelling wizard!"

★★★★★ "Just what I needed to read…

Book cover of North: Finding My Way While Running the Appalachian Trail

Janet Patkowa Why did I love this book?

This is a dazzling tale of an ultrarunning icon running the length of the Appalachian Trail. However, I found myself waiting for the chapters written from Jenny’s perspective as his one-woman crew bringing him supplies and a place to sleep each night. I wanted to know how she dealt with the fear of driving down desolate roads. How she made sure to be in the right place at the right time navigating areas with no cell service. I liked hearing her find pride in what she was accomplishing.

By Scott Jurek, Jenny Jurek,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked North as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

2,200 miles.
47 days.
One remarkable journey.

In July 2015, ultramarathon legend Scott Jurek smashed the world record for running the Appalachian Trail, the sprawling mountain path that runs nearly the entire length of the United States. For nearly seven weeks straight, Jurek battled the elements to run, hike and stumble 50 miles every single day.

A tale of mind-boggling physical exertion, pressure and endurance, North reveals the extraordinary lengths to which we can push our bodies and our minds.

Instant New York Times Bestseller

'Pure suspense, adventure, and inspiration . . . His story of plunging into the…

Book cover of Finding Gobi: A Little Dog with a Very Big Heart

Janet Patkowa Why did I love this book?

Who wouldn’t want to find their best friend in an epic race? And a terrier nonetheless! This little dog ran alongside his chosen human for miles and miles and miles. The dog’s stamina amidst the harsh conditions of the desert is awe-inspiring. Then comes the challenges of bringing an animal home from a foreign country. Not an easy task, but a worthwhile endeavor. 

By Dion Leonard,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Finding Gobi as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


Like A Streecat Named Bob before it, Finding Gobi is a truly heart-warming story for animal lovers worldwide...

In 2016, Dion Leonard, a seasoned ultramarathon runner, unexpectedly stumbled across a little stray dog while competing in a gruelling 155 mile race across the Gobi Desert. The lovable pup, who earned the name `Gobi', proved that what she lacked in size, she more than made up for in heart, as she went step for step with Dion over the treacherous Tian Shan Mountains, managing to keep pace with him for nearly 80 miles.

As Dion witnessed…

Book cover of Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

Janet Patkowa Why did I love this book?

Not a runner story, but a long-distance amateur hiking story. Who hasn’t dreamt of hiking off into the wilderness with just the pack you can carry? Cheryl is scared, she is healing, and she is growing. Her journey shows what’s possible when you take a leap of faith and follow that voice that nags you to do something extreme. 

By Cheryl Strayed,

Why should I read it?

27 authors picked Wild as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A powerful, blazingly honest memoir: the story of an eleven-hundred-mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe—and built her back up again.

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the…

Book cover of Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen

Janet Patkowa Why did I love this book?

An aspiring ultra runner must read this book. It gives homage to a tribe of people who have used long-distance running as part of their society. Micah True planned the Copper Canyon Ultra Marathon to bring together the ultrarunning community with this local tribe. Jenn and Billy, two young ultra runners, tie the story to a current-day nomadic and free lifestyle that is sure to inspire any new ultra runner. 

By Christopher McDougall,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Born to Run as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

At the heart of Born to Run lies a mysterious tribe of Mexican Indians, the Tarahumara, who live quietly in canyons and are reputed to be the best distance runners in the world; in 1993, one of them, aged 57, came first in a prestigious 100-mile race wearing a toga and sandals. A small group of the world's top ultra-runners (and the awe-inspiring author) make the treacherous journey into the canyons to try to learn the tribe's secrets and then take them on over a course 50 miles long.

With incredible energy and smart observation, McDougall tells this story while…

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Book cover of Melody and the Pier to Forever: Parts Five and Six

Shawn Michel De Montaigne

New book alert!

What is my book about?

A young adult and epic fantasy novel that begins an entire series, as yet unfinished, about a young girl named Melody who discovers that the pier she lives near goes on forever—a pier that was destroyed by a hurricane that appeared out of blue skies in mere moments in 1983.

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Melody and the Pier to Forever: Parts Five and Six

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What is this book about?

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