I’m very lucky to have the lovely Cari in my book and running life – and the two intersect in a lovely interchange of running books across the Atlantic. This one came with her in person when we finally met, decades after ‘meeting’! I decided it was time to read a running book and had a trip to take so taking a BookCrossing registered book was ideal.

Lisa Tamati – “Running Hot”

(23 Aug 2018 publ 2009 Allen & Unwin)

Nicola McCloy is also credited on the back of the title page and credit is indeed due to her as this autobiography of a New Zealand Maori ultra runner is accessible, fresh and in a great, unique voice. Tamati fell into the sport rather, from doing extreme hiking and biking with her controlling boyfriend from Austria – what a shame such a strong and tough woman spent a lot of years being told she was no good although she did get support later in her relationship career. Also a jewellery maker, she shares how her life works and goes rather than glossing over the details all in a nice New Zealand English narrative.

All the ultra runners I know are pretty tough and she’s amazing: I love how she doesn’t even bother to go into detail on the training she does for the Desert Cup: “a pile of 100-kilometre runs, 2-hour races, marathons and even a triathlon,” is said rather airily (p. 155). I loved her early descriptions of running through Tunisia especially the Chott el Jerid salt flats, where I’ve spent a couple of happy days (having arrived in an air-conditioned coach rather than on a bicycle, I hasten to add). Her enthusiasm for deserts is palpable, and that’s where she runs: good for her!

I also liked reading about how her whole community came together to sponsor her for doing the Badwater Marathon, even inventing a healthy sandwich in her honour!

The story is interspersed with chunks of very useful endurance cycling and running advice. It’s amazing how the sport has come on in terms of fuelling and knowledge since she started racing, and there are some big lessons learned. I liked her comment that learning that with a positive attitude she can do pretty well anything but if she’s negative or distracted, anything is hard has stood her in good stead for future endurance events. Learning points, humility about her mistakes and epic desert runs make this a good and worthwhile read, not as preachy as some running books can sometimes be.

I had a look and it appears Tamati is still running, writing and now coaching and podcasting too – what an inspiration!

Currently reading

I’ve got back into my Iris Murdoch of the month, “A Word Child”, although I’ve changed my opinion on it somewhat since last time!