(This is a book originally written and published in Swedish. To the best of my knowledge, it hasn’t been translated yet. The title means: “The running adventure – on small roads through Europe”)
In April 2011, ultrarunning legend Rune Larsson and marathon runner Susanne Johansson set off from Portugal on a journey that would take them across Europe and all the way home to Sweden. They travelled on foot, mostly running, pushing a baby pram loaded with essentials. During their 75-day adventure, they crossed 8 countries and over 3500 km.
I love stories like this. I have several books on my shelves written by people who’d covered great distances on foot and the things they saw. I find such stories incredibly inspiring. I, too, want to embark on such adventures. Imagine the things I’d get to experience.
Despite the fact that I’ve always loved Larsson’s articles in the Swedish edition of Runner’s World, I felt that this book was lacking in some areas. I enjoyed the first half of the book a lot more than the second, picturing how it must have been to travel through Spain and France, to meet all sorts of people, swim in the rivers and camp under the stars. But then the book runs (pun not intended) out of steam. All the exciting incidents get reduced to just another page in what reads like a diary. Neither Larsson or Johansson are, of course, writers by trade. They are athletes. So perhaps I shouldn’t have expected more than this day-to-day account of kilometres run and how much accommodation cost. It’s just that….on the few occasions when I’ve run 40 kilometres or more, I’ve always had a story to tell. In this format, without a story to make each day unique, the numbers fall flat and become meaningless to an outsider, their importance diminished. I suppose I expected more from what I am sure was an amazing adventure.
This is a book for runners, written by runners. It’s not a bad book, per se; I just don’t think it does the actual journey justice.