Out of Thin Air: Running Wisdom and Magic from Above the Clouds in Ethiopia (Hardcover)
'Through reading this book you will come to understand that the heart and soul of running are to be found in Ethiopia.' Haile Gebrselassie
'Full of wonderful insights and lessons from a world where the ability to run is viewed as something almost mysterious and magical.' Adharanand Finn, author of Running with the Kenyans
'Ethiopia is a place where I have been told that energy is controlled by angels and demons and where witchdoctors can help you to acquire another runner's power. It is a place where an anonymous runner in the forest told me, miming an imaginary scoreboard and with a completely straight face, that he had dreamt that he would run 10km in 25 minutes. It is a place where they tell me that the air at Mount Entoto will transform me into a 2.08 marathon runner. It is a place, in short, of wisdom and magic, where dreaming is still very much alive.'
Why does it make sense to Ethiopian runners to get up at 3am to run up and down a hill? Who would choose to train on almost impossibly steep and rocky terrain, in hyena territory? And how come Ethiopian men hold six of the top ten fastest marathon times ever?
Michael Crawley spent fifteen months in Ethiopia training alongside (and sometimes a fair way behind) runners at all levels of the sport, from night watchmen hoping to change their lives to world class marathon runners, in order to answer these questions. Follow him into the forest as he attempts to keep up and get to the heart of their success.
About the Author
Michael Crawley is an anthropologist and writer based in Edinburgh. He runs a 2:20 marathon. In 2019, Michael was awarded a PhD in anthropology by the University of Edinburgh, following ESRC funded research, living and training alongside runners in Ethiopia. He has written for the Guardian and appeared on the popular Marathon Talk podcast. In 2018 he was invited to give the closing keynote at the annual conference of the world governing body of athletics, the IAAF. Alongside his anthropological work, he won a 2018 Handa Foundation fellowship to run a project to help struggling Ethiopian runners to retrain in other running-related professions. This is his first book.
“Excellent” —Runner's World
“Through reading this book you will come to understand that the heart and soul of running are to be found in Ethiopia. I welcome everyone to experience the Ethiopian love of running, and to come and have the same life altering experience that Michael had. Running is life!” —Haile Gebrselassie
“Inspiring ... evocative and easily paced ... Out of Thin Air peels back the layers of one of the world's most extraordinary and unexplored sporting cultures, and reveals a powerful simplicity at its core.” —The Guardian
“Full of wonderful insights and lessons from a world where the ability to run is viewed as something almost mysterious and magical.” —Adharanand Finn
“A deep dive into the rich and complex culture that produces some of the best runners the world has ever seen.” —Alex Hutchinson, author of Endure
“Fascinating ... This big-hearted tale will resonate with readers regardless of whether they've ever laced up a pair of running shoes.” —Publishers Weekly