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Friday, 4 February 2011
Three books by Stevie Haston
Joss is the title of the book written by Keith Richardson about the eternal Joss Naylor. For those of you who don’t know Joss, particularly American Ultra runners, the man could be summed up as, a Lake District sheep farmer who ran prodigious distances. Of course he was much more than that, he was a legend, to many fell runners he was the man who optimized living and working among the fells. Anyway a nice coffee table sized book with lovely photos of Lake District landscape.
Wild Trails to Far Horizons by Mike Cudahy, is another must read running nerds book, probably hard to find and out of print. Again non Brits will probably not know his name, but Mr Cudahy was instrumental in stretching the boundaries of what was thought possible in long distance trail. One day a running mag might write some of the history of our sport without too much preference for one country or another, but of course that would be too hard and require them to read the above two books. This book is probably a better read than Joss but both suffer a great deal, don’t get me wrong, they are very interesting, but if you’re not a nerd they will appear long. It’s very hard to write about running in an interesting way that’s why I hesitate in recommending them but I obviously enjoyed them both, but I had no wish to be entertained, I simply wished to be informed and reminded of how great these two men were. So for me the books are very good.
King of the World by David Remnick is a great book by a great writer about a great subject. It’s not about running, it’s about boxing, it’s about Cassius and it’s about Ali, two of the innumerable sides of one man who was heavy weight champion of the world. Ali transcended sport and boxing, and became something else, he became a symbol for freedom. I can’t recommend this book enough, I just wish it was about running or climbing, but there you go, our sports are just not like boxing or are they? If you read the book, you will understand that boxing is generally fixed, a bit like climbing I think. The best boxers come from a limited part of the population who don’t have much to lose and something to fight against. Climbing used to be a rich man’s sport but was taken over by the workers, it is now back to being the province of the dilatants and myth builders. An interesting case might be running, a sport natural to all humans but now often done by IT workers in America and not sheep farmers. Anyway no real point here perhaps a mag could make a point or at least provide me with something worth reading.
Ali for me is most famous for saying, ‘I ain’t got no quarrel with those Vietcong’ not for saying anything about boxing. He was drafted into an illegal war and refused to go, good on him, shame on America.