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Out of Thin Air Reviews

Out of Thin Air by Michael Crawley

Out of Thin Air

Running Wisdom and Magic from Above the Clouds in Ethiopia

Michael Crawley

Score pending

1 review

Category: Non-fiction
Imprint: Bloomsbury Sport
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Publication date: 12 Nov 2020
ISBN: 9781472975324

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.

5 stars out of 5
18 Nov 2020

"His writing is evocative and easily paced, and, like the athletes, flits between seriousness and humour. "

Crawley is always a respectful observer, affording his subjects the time and space to share their insights without judgment. He mulls over the things he finds, connecting dots, but without forcing them to come together to form one coherent picture. That is just as well, as that would be to try to contain it, box it up and put a lid on it, when it is too enigmatic for that, and Crawley allows it to remain that way.

His writing is evocative and easily paced, and, like the athletes, flits between seriousness and humour. The sounds, smells and sights of Ethiopia feel almost within reach, while the scholarly references are just enough to enhance our understanding without slowing down the narrative.