In Born to Run, McDougall (http://www.chrismcdougall.com/blog/) tracks down members of the reclusive Tarahumara Indian tribe in the Mexican Copper Canyons. After being repeatedly injured as a runner himself, McDougall marvels at the tribe’s ability to run ultra distances (over 26.2 miles, commonly 100 miles or more) at incredible speeds, without getting the routine injuries of most American runners. The book has received attention in the sporting world for McDougall’s description of how he overcame injuries by modeling his running after the Tarahumara. He asserts that modern cushioned running shoes are a major cause of running injury, pointing to the thin sandals called huaraches worn by Tarahumara runners, and the explosion of running-related injuries since the introduction of modern running shoes in 1972.
Alongside his research into the Tarahumara, McDougall delves into why the human species, unique among other primates, has developed traits for endurance running. He promotes the endurance running hypothesis, arguing that humans left the forests and moved to the savannas by developing the ability to run long distances in order to literally run down prey.
McDougall also has received critical praise for his rich story-telling and the many quirky characters portrayed in the book, including not only the Tarahumara but exceptional Western runners who share the Tarahumara spirit of running for enjoyment and spiritual experience. The book was on the New York Times Best Seller List for more than four months, although the otherwise positively inclined book critic Dan Zak, writer of the Style section of the Washington Post thought it contained extraneous efforts to be “gonzo and overly clever.”
A film is to be made of the book, written and directed by Peter Sarsgaard, and produced by Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall. Jake Gyllenhaal, who visited the 2010 Leadville 100 with McDougall and Sarsgaard, may be cast.