Running Up That Hill

The Highs and Lows of Going That Bit Further

by Clive Walker in Life

Running Up That Hill is a book by Vassos Alexander (a British sports reporter and endurance runner) where he describes his ultra-running adventures. For those who don't know, an "ultra" is any run longer than the marathon distance of 26.2 miles (42 km).

In this book, Vassos describes his experiences when running long distance races including the Spartathlon, the South Downs Way 100, and the Dragon's Back Race. These are all very long distances, 153 miles for the Spartathlon.

  • My understanding is that ultra running is quite different to shorter distances. Runners walk the uphills and run the downhills and flat sections. People race hard but endurance is the thing!

Every chapter describes a different race or route that Vassos has run or volunteered at. However, different stages of the Spartathlon are described in several chapters throughout the book because it's such an iconic race, Vassos has Greek heritage and it was his big ambition to run in the event.

There is a big community spirit amongst ultra-runners and that really came across to me. The book describes many examples where the author is helped before and during races.

The book has interviews and quotes from many famous ultra runners interspersed throughout each chapter. There are some incredible stories and achievements. The subtitle of the book is The Highs and Lows of Going That Bit Further, which is an accurate summary of the physical and emotional (and literal) ups and downs of ultra-running.

I'm not an ultra runner. In fact, my longest race is a half marathon. Yet, I enjoyed the book. I understand a lot more about ultra-running. I don't know that it will tempt me into running an ultra, at my age, but you never know! The book is a great read.

The book cover
The book cover

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