As of this week, “Born to Run” was at No. 21 on the New York Times paperback best seller list.
Christopher McDougall’s “Born to Run” hit bookstore shelves four years ago this week. Its impact on the running world has been considerable.
1. McDougall’s 304-page autobiographical account of running almost-barefoot with the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico has sold more than a half million copies worldwide and has remained on the New York Times bestseller list for more than 200 consecutive weeks. (As of this week, it is No. 21 on the non-fiction paperback list.) Although it contains some hyperbole, the book has earned its keep (and rave reviews) because McDougall’s vivid story-telling and in-depth reporting appeal to everyone from new runners and veteran ultrarunners to non-runners and couch potatoes alike.
2. Micah True became a cult figure known as “Caballo Blanco,” a simple man who years ago without any fanfare befriended the impoverished Tarahumara (a.k.a. Raramuri) people of Mexico and for 10 years organized a race to help support them. Sadly, the 58-year-old reluctant celebrity died during a trail run in New Mexico in the spring of 2012 after leaving his winter home in the Copper Canyon region of Mexico for his summer home in the foothills of Boulder, Colo. But his free-spirited legacy, his race and the worldwide attention on the Tarahumara endure.
3. The book was one of the primary catalysts for the minimalist running shoe revolution that helped spur brands to develop lighter, lower-to-the-ground shoes using less material. While some would argue that “barely there” shoes led many runners to run with insufficient cushioning and protection under their feet, there’s no question the paradigm shift helped runners rethink about how much (and how little) they really need in a shoe. It also spurred running shoe manufacturers to build lighter models across all categories.
RELATED: 5 Questions With Chris McDougall
4. McDougall’s indictment of the running shoe industry also helped further the natural running form movement, which has led to runners realizing that it’s not only shoes that help them run better but good mechanics and dynamic strength, too. Four years later, though, there’s no clear-cut answer about what kind of gait is best or if runners should even try to change their form. The end result is that more runners are running more efficiently in lighter shoes than a decade ago, if only because shoes are lighter and built with less material.
5. Numerous books have been written about running form, minimalist shoes, barefoot running or the spiritual essence of running since “Born to Run” hit bookstores, including “Anatomy for Runners” (Jay Dicharry), “Tread Lightly” (Bill Katovsky and Dr. Peter Larson), “Chi Marathon” by Danny Dreyer, “Eat & Run” (Scott Jurek), and “Natural Running” (Danny Abshire). The latest good one worth a read is “The Cool Impossible,” by trainer/coach Eric Orton, who was instrumental in teaching McDougall how to run better and become more fit.
6. Originally, reports said actor/director Peter Sarsgaard would be directing the movie adaptation of “Born to Run” and Jake Gylenhaal, his brother-in-law, was expected to play a lead role. An IMDB report said the movie would be produced by the husband-wife team of Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy, who have individually and jointly been tied to many blockbuster productions from Steven Spielberg and Lucasfilm. However, McDougall said recently a major shake-up has occurred in the last couple of months. A new script was just completed, and a new director should be unveiled soon. The goal is still to have it hit movie theaters by 2014. Here’s hoping it ranks up there with “Chariots of Fire,” “Without Limits” and “Fire on the Track” as one of the best running movies ever produced.