The best books on ultrarunning for amateur adventurers

Janet Patkowa Author Of The Impossible Long Run: My Journey to Becoming Ultra
By Janet Patkowa

The Books I Picked & Why

Bedtime Adventure Stories for Grown Ups

By Anna McNuff

Bedtime Adventure Stories for Grown Ups

Why 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. 


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North: Finding My Way While Running the Appalachian Trail

By Scott Jurek, Jenny Jurek

North: Finding My Way While Running the Appalachian Trail

Why 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.


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Finding Gobi: A Little Dog with a Very Big Heart

By Dion Leonard

Finding Gobi: A Little Dog with a Very Big Heart

Why 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. 


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Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

By Cheryl Strayed

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

Why 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. 


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

By Christopher McDougall

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

Why 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. 


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