Running Man: A Memoir by Charlie Engle

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★★★★★★★★★☆ 9/10

A fascinating, well-written memoir about how sport can literally save your life.

In his book Engle talks about his addiction, sobriety, ultramarathons, running across the Sahara desert and his stay in jail.

I remember randomly picking up this book at the bookshop expecting an average read about the interesting topic of ultramarathons. I was more than pleasantly surprised, I loved this book, it’s one of the best autobiographies I have ever read.

GOOD: extremely readable and very inspiring story about overcoming addiction. The parts describing his addiction are very painful to read. But that’s just another reason why I love this book since I believe a good book should stir up emotions in you.
VS BAD: the character and personality of the author won’t be for everyone. I have respect for determined sports personalities but I have read a lot of reviews pointing out how arrogant he appears to be. Also, some things just felt a bit shady – like his law-suits and finance issues. The author claims to be very open and honest about everything but if you were in jail and had a case against you, who knows how honest you are going to be in your book..

IS THIS A BOOK FOR YOU? This book is great especially for sports lovers and people with A-type personalities. Also, I really think this book should end up in hands of all people struggling with addictions since it can give to those people the hope that when they find what makes them thick (e.g. sports), it can help them to stay sober and literally save their life.

Charlie Engle’s “fascinating account of the high and low points of his life as an ultramarathon runner…is uplifting and inspirational” (Publishers Weekly) as he describes his globe-spanning races, his record-breaking run across the Sahara Desert, and how running helped him overcome drug addiction—and an unjust stint in federal prison.

After a decade-long addiction to crack cocaine and alcohol, Charlie Engle hit bottom with a near-fatal six-day binge that ended in a hail of bullets. As Engle got sober, he turned to running, which became his lifeline, his pastime, and his salvation. He began with marathons, and when marathons weren’t far enough, he began to take on ultramarathons, races that went for thirty-five, fifty, and sometimes hundreds of miles, traveling to some of the most unforgiving places on earth to race. The Matt Damon-produced documentary, Running the Sahara, followed Engle as he lead a team on a harrowing, record breaking 4,500-mile run across the Sahara Desert, which helped raise millions of dollars for charity.

Charlie’s growing notoriety led to an investigation and a subsequent unjust conviction for mortgage fraud for which he spent sixteen months in federal prison in Beckley, West Virginia. While in jail, Engle pounded the small prison track, running endlessly in circles. Soon his fellow inmates were joining him, struggling to keep their spirits up in dehumanizing circumstances.

In Running Man, Charlie Engle tells the surprising, funny, and emotional story of his life, detailing his setbacks and struggles—from coping with addiction to serving time in prison—and how he blazed a path to freedom by putting one foot in front of the other. “A fast-paced, well-written account of a man who accepts pain, pushes beyond imagined limits, and ultimately finds redemption and peace” (Booklist), this is a raw and triumphant account about finding the threshold of human endurance, and transcending it.

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