It was with some intrepidation that I started to read Run Like Hell by Matt Beardshall. It was recommended to me by a friend (Edward Chapman from http://www.edandphil.co.uk/) when he heard that my wife had been diagnosed with Leukaemia. The reason being that this book, while predominantly about ultra running, covers a period in Matt Beardshall’s life when his wife was diagnosed and treated for breast cancer. I wasn’t too sure about reading it to start with, however Amazon described the climax as “uplifting,” so I figured that it would have a happy ending. The last thing I needed was to read about someone suffering from, fighting and succumbing to cancer, however an “uplifting” story would be more than welcome.
When I started reading the book something about Matt’s writing style seemed to grate with me, however I soon got past that. Once I had settled into it I found the book hard to put down. His brief descriptions of the powerful emotions that surrounded his wife’s battle with cancer, and chemotherapy, as well as how humbling it is to watch a loved one go through it, really rang true with me.
Away from the cancer he spent quite a lot of time describing various ultra runs/races and predominantly his own battle to get through them, however not once did I find these descriptions boring. In fact, I could relate to a lot of them, albeit on a smaller scale. Matt manages to focus on the little things that happen in the races that keep you going as well as the often daft things that happen unexpectedly, sometimes to yourself and sometimes to others. This makes the runs come alive and keeps them interesting. It echoes what I have also found in doing races. They are never the same, although this doesn’t become apparent until you start writing about them afterwards. Now I always start a race or a long training run/ride wondering what interesting thing is going to happen this time.
While Matt is clearly a gifted runner, and writer, he manages to describe his exploits with a decent amount of modesty, unlike some of his American counterparts (Dean Karnazes anyone?) This makes it a pleasant and interesting read, just don’t let the bizarre photo on the front put you off.
My recommendation if you are at all into running is to pick this up and have a read, it is very enjoyable. If you are thinking about running an ultra it will help to give you an idea of what you will put yourself through, if not then you can marvel at what others put themselves through. It doesn’t get technical or debate whether to run barefoot, or even what to eat, it is just a jolly good read. I think that it was just about worth the £9.99 asking price, although that is really a bit too expensive to make it an impulse buy.
If you want a copy then Amazon have it in stock at the time of writing, just click on the link below.