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10 thoughts on “Two Hours

  1. says:

    We are hardwired to discover new ways to challenge ourselves To run a 26 miles and 365 yards of a marathon in under two hours it would be necessary to run at an average pace of 4 hours 34 seconds per mile This book sets out to explore the likelihood of this happening and, if it were to happen, what the key levers would be that would enable this achievement OK, so maybe it s one for running aficionados But lots of people do run not to anything remotely close to the standard required to approach this level of performance, but sufficient to be able to fully appreciate what a crazy pinnacle this really is To put it into some context, the average finish time for over 38,000 runners in the 2014 London Marathon was around four and a half hours A decent goal for a good high school runner would be to run a single mile in under 5 minutes.The author delves into the history of the race and digs up some interesting facts about its origin and its growth into a mass participation event It seems that just about every large city has its own marathon these days and having run in London, Berlin and Paris amongst others I certainly appreciate the appeal of these events It s an opportunity to participate albeit distantly in the same event as world class athletes At the same time, it s a chance to challenge yourself and often to raise money for a worthy cause.But the main focus here is on the elite athletes as they chip away at the world record time and get ever closer to the two hour mark The current world record is 2 02 57 Not so far off then Well, maybe not but some experts still suggest it is physiologically impossible for humans to achieve this goal In this book the author takes a different stance and feels that the achievement is inevitable eventually The physiological, mental, environmental and training impediments are closely examined often using outputs from serious scientific study I found it all totally fascinating So that s the history and the science, but the secondary element to this book and the one that really grabbed me and hauled me through it in two sessions is the account of top Kenyan runner Geoffrey Mutai Geoffrey comes from the Rift Valley area of Kenya and, in fact, originates from a tribe that produces most of the best marathon runners in the world Like just about everyone he grew up with he didn t wear a pair of shoes until his teenage years and his childhood and early adolescence were memorable mainly because of its general impoverishment and the sheer effort required just to get by, day to day His story is interspersed with the scientific study and it works really well It elevates what might have been considered a pretty dry academic text into something with much depth and feeling.I know this won t be everyone s cup of tea, but I d urge anyone interested in marathon running or even sport in general to take a look at it I found it inspiring.


  2. says:

    It s good journalism and storytelling Being perfectly honest I don t know how much interest this book will hold for non runners, but I found it fascinating There are four main themes there the history of marathon running, the assault on the titular two hours record, the analysis of Kenyan running phenomenon and the story of one of the top Kenyan marathon runners Geoffrey Mutai The themes are interlinked and well balanced I personally enjoyed the history of the marathon racing the most.I have two minor criticisms with this book, which prevent me from giving it five stars One is perhaps rather childish it is about the following phrase In the first Olympic marathon, in 1896, only the Greek winner, Spyridon Louis, broke three hours Now any club runner worth his salt can run faster I know that this is the book about the marathon elite and from the elite point of view the 3 hours marathon represents a snail pace, but I dislike this statement nevertheless Especially considering that Ed Caesar does not mention his own marathon PB Secondly all the talk about the reasons why the Kenyan runners are superior seem to diminish their achievements With superior genetics and running favouring conditions they are in a league of their own Nobody denies them hard work and grit, but all these natural gifts make it difficult to relate to them as book characters.


  3. says:

    Mutai is a Kenyan, a Kalenjin, and a Kipsigis He was born in the village of Equator, which sits at nearly 9,000 feet in the lush highlands at the western escarpment of the Rift Valley, and, as its name suggests, at the belt line of the world He is a husband, a father, a son, a grandson, a nephew, a cousin, a coach, a businessman, and a potentate He is a rich man who grew up without shoes A retelling of the marathon, from its roots of origin, to how it exists today You will read of the history of how it has found its way to cities like Boston, New York, and London He has put before the reader facts, true lives he accounts on, and one great runner he expounds on right from his youth to his most recent achievements The author successful puts in the readers mind a story behind the face, the winner, the elite athlete, Geoffrey Mutai, his life, his struggle, and the whole human drama and journey the marathon incorporates.The telling, the facts, read well, and the author handles them with style and presents to the read a work that is insightful, easy reading, and a joy to read at the same time.This tale would appeal to the athlete, the casual jogger, and to the reader that is just curious of what the marathon is about.Excerpts Why does it matter whether the sub two hour marathon is possible And if it is possible, what will it mean when the first 1 59 59 marathon is run At one level, the achievement will signify nothing To complete 26 miles and 385 yards in less than two hours using only one s God given gifts would be, of course, an exceptional feat of speed, mental strength, and endurance But the marathon length is a scruffy figure, only fixed by the Olympic Committee in 1921 to match the course of the 1908 London Olympic marathon, which was itself designed to accommodate the peculiar viewing demands of the British royal family Why should we care if some extraordinary person can run this arbitrary distance in just over, or just under, two hours For curious reasons, we do care and it does matter Twenty six miles and 385 yards is not just a distance It has become a metaphor Nobody finds the marathon easy even professionals, especially professionals The distance is democratic that way Everyone who runs a marathon is running against his or her limits Everyone is forced to manage a certain amount of pain and to recruit hidden reserves Whatever one s talent or preparation, nobody runs an easy marathon Geoffrey Mutai s prayer at the startline is not to win the race, but to finish it On the other side of the coin, the marathon is also a race that is possible for almost anyone with enough patience and willpower to complete The distance is democratic that way, too For this reason, it has become an event against which hordes of everyday people fat people, thin people people crooked by time and people sprightly as foals rich people and people in need test themselves I m running against cancer I m running for my dad I m running for a personal best As Chris Brasher, cofounder of the London Marathon, once said, the race has become the great suburban Everest Now, in the popular imagination, the marathon is not primarily a test of athletic talent, but a test of character The race has become a carnival of men and women, some in outrageous costumes, each attempting to overcome a personal hurdle for the public good, or a public hurdle for a personal good A British man named Lloyd Scott is perhaps the most extreme of these charitable masochists Among other stunts, he has completed both the New York and London marathons in an antiquated deep sea diving suit weighing 130 pounds, and has raised nearly 5 million for charity in the past decade When he received the MBE Member of the British Empire honor from the Queen for his fund raising feats, he said that it should stand for Mad, Bonkers, and Eccentric In these final moments of stillness, however, Mutai banished impure thoughts and the crowding, conflicted voices He attempted to focus Psychologists talk about a Zen like state of instinctual action in which the greatest sporting performances are attained They call it Flow The French cyclist Jean Bobet described a similar but distinct experience called La Volupt , which is delicate, intimate and ephemeral It arrives, it takes hold of you, sweeps you up and then leaves you again It is for you alone It is a combination of speed and ease, force and grace It is pure happiness Mutai has his own term the Spirit The way he understood it, the brutality of his training regime 125 fierce miles a week was endured to attain this sensation Thousands of hours of suffering for these minutes of sweetness speed and ease, force and grace The harder you train, he would say, the you get the Spirit It gains on you So far, in his career, the Spirit had allowed Mutai the courage to remake the sport of marathon running, and to destroy previous conceptions of what was possible to lose his own fear, and implant it in the hearts of his competitors In Boston, Mutai picked as never before On the cold morning of April 18, 2011, with a breeze at his back, he beat his countryman Moses Mosop in a thrilling race, and finished in a time of 2 03 02 a course record by nearly three minutes, and almost one minute faster than Haile Gebreselassie s world record of 2 03 59 Mosop finished four seconds behind Mutai, in 2 03 06 These were absurd, freakish times Despite its length, the professional marathon is a sport of tiny margins a few seconds here, a few seconds there Nobody in the modern era had broken a course record at a major marathon by nearly three minutes before Mutai Looking on, the American marathon great, Bill Rodgers, who was himself a four time winner of the Boston Marathon, thought the clocks were broken It was something incredible, said Rodgers I ran with a tailwind in Boston one day, and I ran 2 09 55 He ran than six minutes faster The clocks were working However, Mutai s run would not stand as an official world record It is one of many bizarre quirks of the sport of professional road running that, despite being the oldest continuously contested marathon in the world, Boston does not count for world record purposes It was not a brick wall On May 6, 1954, despite dire prognostications from armchair pundits, some of whom believed a human would die if he attempted to run a mile in under four minutes, a junior doctor named Roger Bannister ran 3 59 4 for the mile at the Iffley Road running track in Oxford, England The world of athletics moved on fast Six weeks after Bannister made history, Landy himself obliterated the new world record, running 3 58 dead In the years that followed, sub four minute miles became commonplace among elite athletes In 2011, the fifth American high school boy broke the barrier The four minute mile was only unbreakable until one man broke it Apr s moi, said Bannister, le d luge Review also at 2read.com review two hours by ed caesar


  4. says:

    While not exactly what I d expected, Ed Caesar has done a remarkable job of cohesively stringing together information that he s gathered over much time spent with elite Kenyan primarily, there is also some exposure to Ethiopian elites, as well runners he has given generously of his time, resources, skills and goodwill to make these interviews and fact finding missions possible In return, he has been provided unprecedented access to international races, athletes, their coaches and their culture to share an update with readers, in layman s terms, on the quest to get closer to a mythical marathon finish time Although he interviews and writes about several other elite level distance runners, and gives a succinct history and breakdown of the marathon as a distance race, the primary focus of this book is Geoffrey Mutai Caesar formed a special bond with the athlete during his research for this book, and Mutai was very open with him about his background, his culture, the secrets of training in Kenya, his goals and dreams for the future It s an inspiring and powerful story, and I m grateful to the author for having shared this If you ve read a lot of other literature related to Kenyan running for example, Running with the Kenyans this may not be news to you since I have not, I was very interested to hear about the background of some of these athletes and their lives outside the racing scene Having just finished watching the NYC Marathon last weekend, it was pretty fun to read about it s impact on the international racing world as one of the World Marathon Majors in this book Normally, international elite runners are simply names on a bib especially those from Kenya, since they seem to stay away from the press it was interesting to have a little story to go along with some of the faces Caesar also explores the subject of drug use and recognizes the efforts of shoe companies to work with athletes toward this two hour goal what company wouldn t want to have their sponsored athlete hit this mark The ending is a little abrupt than I prefer but, overall, I was impressed with his debut effort In addition, I must draw attention to Caesar s notes at the back of the book there is some fantastic information that was worth going through but I wish I d done it while reading the book, instead of after I d finished I would recommend this to anyone who appreciates or is interested in the sport of distance running, runner or not definitely worth the read.


  5. says:

    The fly on the wall insider account is a hallmark of sports literature, and when the subjects are open and engaging and on field happenings dramatic and captivating think A Season on the Brink and recently Collision Low Crossers these books can be some of the best of genre Long distance running, spectator unfriendly than most other non Curling sporting activities and beset by slim literary pickings once fictional the John L Parker novels are decent but always dragged for me when Quentin wasn t running and instructional Lore of Running and Daniels Running Formula are essential training guides but not exactly beach reads fare are excluded, has never been subject to the insect atop plaster treatment This changes on October 27th, a little less than a week before this year s New York City Marathon, with Ed Caesar s Two Hours, a much needed book that finally addresses the gap Two Hours peels back the curtain on elite Kenyan runners and their training through three years of reporting and extensive interviews Primarily centered around 2011 Boston Marathon champion Geoffrey Mutai, Caesar offers a peek into the life of an elite Kenyan marathoner and what it is like to subject oneself to running an elite marathon time spoiler alert turns out it s rather unpleasant Many people may see the winners of big money marathons as a revolving door of genetically gifted Kenyans with amusing names and boring personalities I m sure that whole English as a third fourth language thing doesn t help matters Caesar does a phenomenal job at humanizing and making the reader care about Mutai, writing about how he channeled his restless drive to go from crushing rocks to form cement as an 18 year old to traveling the world running marathons and becoming a millionaire in developed world denominations yet still spending most of his training time in a cramped house shared with other athletes without any electricity or running water It s truly a fascinating look into the lives of top African marathoners with a level of detail that is, to my knowledge anyway, unprecedented Two Hours offers than just these insider accounts Its promotional blurb dubs it the first major book about the marathon, and while PR departments are predisposed to immodesty and hyperbole, this is actually an accurate description Caesar pursues a variety of detours into other aspects of marathon with Mutai s narrative serving as the major thread linking all the sections together He chronicles the history of the marathon, profiling luminaries in the field ranging from Pheidippides to Emil Zatopek to Mutai and how humanity has managed to shave almost an hour from the top marathon time over the last century and a half There are also sections on performance enhancement and interviews with trainers and busted athletes and the science and genetics behind whether runners will ever break two hours in the marathon Though topics such as the big business and complex logistics of putting on a major marathon aren t really touched upon and some readers may quibble with the fact that there are only a few fleeting mentions of female runners over the entire book, Caesar largely touches all the major bases around organized running events lasting 26.2 miles Two Hours is somewhat deceivingly named because it is already clear to any current marathon fans there are dozens of us that runners remain several years away from being capable of sniffing such a time if they even ever can at all Caesar makes this point evident to the reader pretty early in the book as well Instead, Two Hours is largely about elite marathoners in general and Mutai specifically and recent attempts at pushing the record closer, but now below, 2 hours Mutai himself primarily focuses is on the slower and rabbit less New York Marathon when Caesar follows him There is no nail biting account of some penultimate event where a top marathoner tries to go sub 2 00, though there are extended discussions about the science behind it which are mercifully laymen friendly yet scientifically sound and very well explained and the optimal conditions for such a race a special track that strikes a perfect balance between springy and firm, rabbits to pace and allow drafting, and only a few elites to avoid multiple parties throwing down surges At its core, Two Hours is basically everything you wanted to know about the marathon rather than being limited just to running a time with a 1 in front of it.Caesar is a British author whose work has been featured in the likes of The New Yorker and New York Times Magazine He is a gifted writer with a knack for lyrical and detailed prose on the act of running, adeptly describing each runner s unique gaits including how Haile Gebreselassie had an awkward bend in his left elbow resulting from years of running carrying his schoolbooks and the excitement of the surges and tactics of elites dueling in major marathons I m not sure whether Caesar is actually a runner or has any marathons under his belt unsurprisingly he opted not to run alongside Mutai during his training sessions and instead used a motorcycle but he writes with the same love for running and detail as the member of your local track club who gushes about the newest foam roller and spills seas of e ink opining on the various merits of the different Garmin GPS watches As a marathoner who loves to geek out on LetsRun and honestly would seriously consider bringing Lore of Running to the beach assuming I could fit that Brobdingnagian tome in my beach bag without breaking it I ve been eager to read Two Hours since I saw the positive review it received in The Economist when the book was released in the UK this summer I m pleased to report that it exceeded my expectations and may likely go down as my favorite sports book released in 2015 While depth is sometimes sacrificed for breadth, Two Hours is the best general interest book on the marathon and a vital addition for any runner looking for an entertaining and comprehensive volume about long distance running I have tried to read everything I can get my hands on about running and marathoning, and I was still constantly learning new trivia tidbits including how the pace clock for the lead pack stalled at an incorrect time during the 2012 Berlin Marathon and threw off runners times, a thorough debunking of Pheidippides claim to marathon trailblazing, and how the 1908 Olympic Marathon in London which standardized the 26.2 mile distance was actually found to be 174 yards short of 26.2 miles itself when re measured roughly a century later, among many others in addition to Caesar s in depth examination into Mutai s life as an athlete If you strictly prefer your ambulation with one foot always on the ground and don t understand all the hubbub around the marathon and its record times then you probably won t enjoy Two Hours Given its subject matter I m not sure Two Hours has the same crossover appeal as Chris McDougall s Born to Run which had a extended and cohesive narrative and spearheaded an athletic shoe cushioning movement that is actually somewhat debunked in Two Hours as many elites are now clamoring for firmer shoes with cushioning and higher heel drops That said, I can t recommend Two Hours strongly enough if you are even somewhat interested in participating in or following distance running as it is the best non instructional book I ve read on the topic 9 10


  6. says:

    This came out a year prior to the announcement of Nike s Breaking2 project, which I found funny as Adidas is mentioned consistently throughout the book Some interesting stuff about training but ultimately just jumps around too much and could have been cut down.


  7. says:

    A history of the marathon that lobs in a few insights about running Aside from that, I suspect the book was hashed out as PR for a shoe manufacturer Caesar seems keen to cast doubt on Chris McDougall s barefoot running theory and it neatly precedes Nikes two hour marathon project.


  8. says:

    This was a heck of a book The history of distance races was new to me, as was much of the day to day life of people in the high altitude towns of Kenya from which so many fast distance runners originate Geoffrey Mutai is a great centerpiece for this book analyzing marathons from several angles It was such a shame to read the chapter about performance enhancing drugs and their effects upon distance running Baseball and weightlifting are not alone w this scourge, apparently I was hoping for a different ending, but life is like that A thrilling ride now I want to get outside and go running I did receive an ARC in exchange for this review It was a heck of a book I recommend it.


  9. says:

    Arriscaria diria que um livro apenas para aficionados da corrida, mas para estes e estas uma leitura empolgante, e pelo menos para mim despertou ainda maior curiosidade pelo fen meno da corrida de longa dist ncia em velocidade e dos seus her is aqui apenas no masculino A escrita combina muito bem o relato em registo dram tico de grandes disputas na hist ria apesar de tudo breve da maratona com breves epis dios biogr ficos de grandes lendas da modalidade, como os lend rios Abebe Bikila, Haile Gebrslassie ou o malogrado Samuel Wanjiru com estes dois ltimos partilhei o percurso de duas meias maratonas h uns anos atr s ou o fen meno Geoffrey Mutai Retratos de vidas humildes e turbulentas, de sacrif cio e auto supera o admir veis, com as quais temos muito a aprender.


  10. says:

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Two Hours download Two Hours , read online Two Hours , kindle ebook Two Hours , Two Hours 69b1a3548178 Just Published To Extraordinary Acclaim In Britain As Hoop Dreams For Runners The Spectator And A Celebration Of The Human Spirit The Observer , Two Hours Is The First Book From A Blazing New Talent Who Has Established Himself As Perhaps The Best New Long Form Magazine Writer Since The Arrival Of John Jeremiah Sullivan The Guardian And Whose Reportage Has The Wonderfully Old Fashioned Feel Of The Very Best Of American Journalism The Sunday Times Two Hours To Cover Twenty Six Miles And Yards It Is Running S Everest, A Feat Once Seen As Impossible For The Human Body But Now We Can Glimpse The Mountaintop The Sub Two Hour Marathon Will Require An Exceptional Combination Of Speed, Mental Strength, And Endurance The Pioneer Will Have To Endure , Live Braver, Plan Better, And Be Luckier Than Anyone Who Has Run Before So Who Will It Be In This Spellbinding Book, Journalist Ed Caesar Takes Us Into The World Of Elite Marathoners Some Of The Greatest Runners On Earth Through The Stories Of These Rich Characters, Like Kenyan Geoffrey Mutai, Around Whom The Narrative Is Built, Caesar Traces The History Of The Marathon As Well As The Science, Physiology, And Psychology Involved In Running So Fast For So Long And He Shows Us Why This Most Democratic Of Races Retains Its Brutal, Enthralling Appeal And Why We Are Drawn To Test Ourselves To The Limit Two Hours Is A Book About A Beautiful Sport Few People Understand It Takes Us From Big Money Races In The United States And Europe To Remote Villages In Kenya It S About Talent, Heroism, And Refusing To Accept Defeat It Is A Book About Running That Is About Much Than Running It Is A Human Drama Like No Other