Engaging. The Way of the Runner drops us deep behind lines in the land of the rising sun.”
A great look at Japanese distance running and will provide an interesting read to anyone who wants to know what makes a particular running community tick. If you liked Running With the Kenyans then you will definitely enjoy this.”
Brilliant, funny, charming and wise. Finn shines a light on a way of life that puts serious running at the heart of its culture and shows why the way of the runner: the racing and preparation, but also the culture, diet and lifestyle, is really a way of lifeone that all of us, runners and non-runners alike should all aspire to.
Combines great storytelling with immersive research. Finn, a lovely, anxious narrator as he approaches his 40th birthday worried about his race times, discovers how utterly ingrained in the Japanese psyche running isas a mainstay of both community and psychology. Useful as a fresh perspective on your own running.
"Adharanand Finn's portrait of Japan's running scene is incisive and engaging. He captures the reasons behind its success - hard work, the public's adoration, and generous corporate backing. But he also explores honestly the challenges it is facing, in particular the struggle between old and new, tradition and modernity, which are mirrored in wider Japanese society. A fascinating read."
It is no surprise that Kenyans and Ethiopians dominate long-distance running around the globe; however, it is less known that the Japanese follow closely behind. Finn (Running with the Kenyans) finds that statistically, Japanese athletes are among the best in the world, with a greater number completing marathons with faster times—yet they are not always winning races. Fascinated by these statistics, the author wanted to experience Japanese running firsthand, moving his family to the country for six months to explore the question: "Why aren't they better?" Finn discovers that far more attention is placed on running in Japan than in the Western world. Sports events are typically broadcast on primetime television, often times bringing in higher ratings than the U.S. Super Bowl. Plus, there is a greater emphasis placed on running as a team sport; many perform professionally on corporate teams, allowing runners to continue their career after college without financial pressures. VERDICT Finn's explorations of Japanese running culture will be fascinating to anyone who enjoys the sport or is interested in learning about life in Japan.—Melissa Keegan, Ela Area P.L., Lake Zurich, IL
Guardian editor and amateur runner Finn marks his second embedded experience with distance racers.In the first, Running with the Kenyans (2012), the author trained in a country renowned for running skills in every known competitive event. But Japan, it turns out, is even more smitten with running; as he writes, if every major race seems to be "won by a seemingly endless succession of superfast Kenyans and Ethiopians," the Japanese are "at least putting up a fight." Unlike everywhere else on the planet, it seems, Japanese towns and companies offer runners team positions and salaries, allowing them to cultivate the skills of ekiden full-time. Finn, nearing 40 as he writes, takes a George Plimpton-esque tack and runs alongside them, though he finds that the world of Japanese running is insular in the extreme and the willingness of coaches and runners to bare their souls to him pretty well nonexistent. Finn explores the place of running in Japanese culture, taking sidelong looks at some of its expressions—one is literary, found in the work of Haruki Murakami, a running fanatic. It's a wonderful adventure, and it's not far-fetched at all to liken it to one of Plimpton's escapades, even if Finn seems to be a better runner than Plimpton was a football player. More than being a deep look into a sport—though it is surely that—the book is a lively travelogue and a depiction of a culture that does not give up its secrets easily. "For Hatsuyume," he writes of a certain holiday, "it is considered a good omen to dream of Mount Fuji, along with an eagle and an aubergine. I'm not sure where those last two come in, but right here, in its full glory, across the lake, is Mount Fuji….It brings a dreamlike quality to the finish of the race. It's no wonder people are crying." An elegant, well-written pleasure even for readers with no particular interest in foot racing.