It is summer, the hay and silage have not yet been made on John Connell’s farm, so he has time to indulge his other great passion: running. John sets off on a marathon run of 42.2 kilometres through his native Longford, the scene of his award-winning book The Cow Book.
As he runs across woodlands, fields and tiny roads, he tells the story of his life and contemplates Ireland’s history, old and new. He also remembers other great runs he has done, from Australia to Canada, and tells the stories of some of his running heroes, such as Haile Gebrselassie.
Part memoir, part essay, The Running Book explores what it is to be alive and what movement can do for a person. It is deeply intimate and wide-ranging, local and global: Connell is as likely to write about colonialism and the effect of British imperialism in Ireland and its former colonies as he is about life on his family farm in Ballinalee, County Longford. Told in 42 chapters, each another kilometre in the 42.2k race, the whole book is 42,000 words long and it captures what it is to undertake a marathon moment by moment, in body and mind. Above all, The Running Book is a book about the nature of happiness and how for one man it came through the feet.