Book: Running Free by Richard Askwith   1 comment

Running Free book cover

“Runners are born free, and everywhere they run in chains.  Or, if you prefer, in chain stores.” — Richard Askwith, Running Free

I really enjoyed Richard Askwith‘s other running book, Feet in the Clouds, about fell running and the Bob Graham Round and have been meaning to get a copy of his more recent one, Running Free (on turning off the stopwatch and running with the hope and intention of getting lost — coincidentally, a major theme of this blog before you).  I finally got around to the Oxford Library for it Wednesday and have been reading it in Fartlek-like bursts ever since.

He isn’t against organised running or, rather, folks that participate in it; but, he rails against Big Running or, as I now think of it, the Running Industrial Complex.  In doing so, he treats us to a funny memoir of his path back to running the way you did as a child: fearless, inexhaustible, and with an infinite sense of wonder at the world around you.  Halfway through it, he has already described a year-or-so as the human quarry for organised bloodhound hunts in Northamptonshire and aimless treks across unknown territory with only the faintest memory (if any at all) of the maps half-studied before setting out — these stories are all too familiar and it is a pleasure to read his version of this sort of endeavor.

He is also at Age Four of what he describes therein as the Seven Ages of Running and which I see versions of all the time out in the pavements and parks:

First Age: Total Novice
Second Age: Zealot
Third Age: Striving for Peak Performance
Fourth Age: Conqueror of the Impossible Challenge

I was born into Age One if family stories are to be believed, impossible to stop running and never especially good at it.  I don’t know that I ever hit ‘Zealot,’ as a result and my period where I Strove for Peak Performance (in High School and my tentative first visit to University in the late-70s) coincidentally overlapped my heaviest use of psychedelics and earliest blossoming of the lifelong love affair with straight whiskey (yes, those of you who knew me in the 80s and 90s…the 70s were my drugs azimuth).  As a result, the Fourth Age has been my rut for most of the last 35 years and results in taking on events people think are difficult (like the London Marathon or the more difficult Snowdonia Marathon) and making them harder by drinking heavily throughout.  As a joke, I once set up a thing called the 30 Pack Marathon where you had to drink 30 twelve ounce beers evenly distributed along a full marathon distance in heat you probably shouldn’t even walk in; not only did the event happen, it is held annually in El Paso, Texas:

BJH3 30 Pack page


The Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Ages are still to be revealed in this tome as is a chapter on the Hash House Harriers.  It has been far too much fun, this read, as running should be when you are doing it right.  Give it a go, you have nothing to lose but your chains.


Posted July 10, 2015 by Drunken Bunny in Booze, Drugs, Running

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One response to “Book: Running Free by Richard Askwith

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  1. Pingback: Running Week in Review 12 July 2015 | The Endless British Pub Crawl continues...

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