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The Best Running Books for Adventure Lovers

Welcome to our ever-growing list of what we consider to be the BEST running books for adventure lovers… EVER! We’ve been compiling this list based on books we have read and also books that our trusted community of running and adventure lovers rate highly.

Grand Trail – Frederic Berg & Alexis Berg

Grand Trail: A Magnificent Journey to the Heart of Ultrarunning and Racing

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Grand Trail shares the stunning beauty and raw emotions of ultrarunning, paying tribute to the passion and splendor of the sport and lifestyle. Filled with powerful photographs and intimate stories, Grand Trail portrays ultramarathon champions and their extraordinary world.

Grand Trail features the icons of ultrarunning―people, places, and races―in spectacular color and black-and-white photography by Alexis Berg. Exploring iconic courses like Western States, Hardrock, Marathon des Sables alongside personal portraits of heroes like Kilian Jornet, Emelie Forsberg, and Scott Jurek, Grand Trail is as inspiring as it is beautiful.

In its pages, Grand Trail shares the indescribable feelings that spring from running free in a wild place, alone in thought or sharing the miles with another of the tribe. The simple beauty of the task. Stunning views of the world’s most beautiful trails. Faces lined with exhaustion in gritty aid stations. The unguarded gaze of a spent runner who half hears the...

Born to Run – Christopher McDougall

Born to Run

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The astonishing national bestseller and hugely entertaining story that completely changed the way we run.
An epic adventure that began with one simple question: Why does my foot hurt?
 
Isolated by Mexico's deadly Copper Canyons, the blissful Tarahumara Indians have honed the ability to run hundreds of miles without rest or injury. In a riveting narrative, award-winning journalist and often-injured runner Christopher McDougall sets out to discover their secrets. In the process, he takes his readers from science labs at Harvard to the sun-baked valleys and freezing peaks across North America, where ever-growing numbers of ultra-runners are pushing their bodies to the limit, and, finally, to a climactic race in the Copper Canyons that pits America’s best ultra-runners against the tribe. McDougall’s incredible story will not only engage your mind but inspire your body when you realize that you, indeed all of us, were born to run.

Ultra Marathon Man – Dean Karnazes

Ultramarathon Man

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In one of his most ambitious physical efforts to date, Dean Karnazes attempted to run 50 marathons, in 50 states, in 50 days to raise awareness of youth obesity and urge Americans of all fitness levels to "take that next step."

"UltraMarathon Man: 50 Marathons - 50 States - 50 Days", a Journeyfilm documentary, follows Dean’s incredible step-by-step journey across the country.

Ultrarunning legend Dean Karnazes has run 262 miles-the equivalent of ten marathons-without rest. He has run over mountains, across Death Valley, and to the South Pole-and is probably the first person to eat an entire pizza while running. With an insight, candor, and humor rarely seen in sports memoirs (and written without the aid of a ghostwriter or cowriter), Ultramarathon Man has inspired tens of thousands of people-nonrunners and runners alike-to push themselves beyond their comfort zones and be reminded of "what it feels like to be truly alive," says Sam Fussell, author of Muscle.
Ultramarathon Man answers...


Interview with Dean Karnazes

Eat & Run – Scott Jurek

Eat and Run

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“In pursuing the mental side of endurance, Jurek uncovers the most important secrets any runner can learn.”—Amby Burfoot, author of The Runner’s Guide to the Meaning of Life
For nearly two decades, Scott Jurek has been a dominant force—and darling—in the grueling and growing sport of ultrarunning. Until recently he held the American 24-hour record and he was one of the elite runners profiled in the runaway bestseller Born to Run.
In Eat and Run, Jurek opens up about his life and career as a champion athlete with a plant-based diet and inspires runners at every level. From his Midwestern childhood hunting, fishing, and cooking for his meat-and-potatoes family to his slow transition to ultrarunning and veganism, Scott’s story shows the power of an iron will and blows apart the stereotypes of what athletes should eat to fuel optimal performance. Full of stories of competition as well as science and practical advice—including his own recipes—Eat and Run will motivate readers and expand...



Finding Gobi – Dion Leonard

Finding Gobi

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New York Times Bestseller List

“Leonard and Gobi’s story represents the power of people working together and the profound depth of feeling possible between a man and his dog.”--Publishers Weekly

A man, a dog, and the lengths to which love will go to sacrifice for its companion.

Finding Gobi is the miraculous tale of Dion Leonard, a seasoned ultramarathon runner who crosses paths with a stray dog while competing in a 155-mile race through the Gobi Desert in China. The lovable pup, who would later earn the name Gobi, proved that what she lacked in size, she more than made up for in heart, as she went step for step with Dion over the Tian Shan Mountains, across massive sand dunes, through yurt villages and the black sands of the Gobi Desert, keeping pace with him for 77 miles.

As Dion witnessed the incredible determination and heart of this small animal, he found his own heart undergoing a change as well.  Whereas in the past these races were all about winning and being the best, his goal...


Finding Gobi Book Review / Runner Interview: Dion Leonard

The Road to Sparta – Dean Karnazes

The Road to Sparta

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The Road to Sparta is the story of the 153-mile run from Athens to Sparta that inspired the marathon and saved democracy, as told—and experienced—by ultramarathoner and New York Times bestselling author Dean Karnazes.
In 490 BCE, Pheidippides ran for 36 hours straight from Athens to Sparta to seek help in defending Athens from a Persian invasion in the Battle of Marathon. In doing so, he saved the development of Western civilization and inspired the birth of the marathon as we know it. Even now, some 2,500 years later, that run stands enduringly as one of greatest physical accomplishments in the history of mankind.
Karnazes personally honors Pheidippides and his own Greek heritage by recreating this ancient journey in modern times. Karnazes even abstains from contemporary endurance nutrition like sports drinks and energy gels and only eats what was available in 490 BCE, such as figs, olives, and cured meats. Through vivid details and internal dialogs, The Road to Sparta offers a...


Interview with Dean Karnazes

Run or Die – Kilian Jornet

Run or Die

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Shortlisted for the 2014 William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award
National Geographic Adventurer of the Year 2014


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"The most dominating endurance athlete of his generation." -- The New York Times

An exceptional athlete. A dominating force. An extraordinary person.

Kilian Jornet has conquered some of the toughest physical tests on the planet. He has run up and down Mt. Kilimanjaro faster than any other human being, and struck down world records in every challenge that has been proposed, all before the age of 25. Redefining what is possible, Jornet continually pushes the limits of human ability, astonishing competitors with his near-superhuman fitness and ability.

Born and raised at 6,000 feet above sea level in the Spanish Pyrenees, Jornet climbed an 11,000 foot mountain -- the highest mountain in the region -- at age 5. Now Jornet adores the mountains with the same ferocity with which he runs them. In Run or Die he shares his passion, inviting readers into a fascinating world rich...

Finding Ultra – Rich Roll

Finding Ultra

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Finding Ultra is an incredible but true account of achieving one of the most awe-inspiring midlife physical transformations ever
On the night before he was to turn forty, Rich Roll experienced a chilling glimpse of his future. Nearly fifty pounds overweight and unable to climb the stairs without stopping, he could see where his current sedentary life was taking him—and he woke up.
Plunging into a new routine that prioritized a plant-based lifestyle and daily training, Rich morphed—in a matter of mere months—from out of shape, mid-life couch potato to endurance machine. Finding Ultra recounts Rich’s remarkable journey to the starting line of the elite Ultraman competition, which pits the world’s fittest humans in a 320-mile ordeal of swimming, biking, and running. And following that test, Rich conquered an even greater one: the EPIC5—five Ironman-distance triathlons, each on a different Hawaiian island, all completed in less than a week.
In the years since Finding Ultra was...

Alone on the Wall – Alex Honnold

Alone on the Wall

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Including two new chapters on Alex Honnold’s free solo ascent of the iconic 3,000-foot El Capitan in Yosemite National Park.

On June 3rd, 2017, Alex Honnold became the first person to free solo Yosemite's El Capitan―to scale the wall without rope, a partner, or any protective gear―completing what was described as "the greatest feat of pure rock climbing in the history of the sport" (National Geographic) and "one of the great athletic feats of any kind, ever" (New York Times). Already one of the most famous adventure athletes in the world, Honnold has now been hailed as "the greatest climber of all time" (Vertical magazine).

Alone on the Wall recounts the most astonishing achievements of Honnold’s extraordinary life and career, brimming with lessons on living fearlessly, taking risks, and maintaining focus even in the face of extreme danger. Now Honnold tells, for the first time and in his own words, the story of his 3 hours and 56 minutes on the sheer face of El Cap, which Outside...

Into the Wild – Jon Krakauer

Into the Wild

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In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. Four months later, his decomposed body was found by a moose hunter.  How McCandless came to die is the unforgettable story of Into the Wild.
Immediately after graduating from college in 1991, McCandless had roamed through the West and Southwest on a vision quest like those made by his heroes Jack London and John Muir.  In the Mojave Desert he abandoned his car, stripped it of its license plates, and burned all of his  cash.  He would give himself a new name, Alexander Supertramp, and , unencumbered by money and belongings, he would be free to wallow in the raw, unfiltered experiences that nature presented.  Craving a blank spot on the map,...

Amazon.com Review

"God, he was a smart kid..." So why did Christopher McCandless trade a bright future--a college education, material comfort, uncommon ability and charm--for death by starvation in an abandoned bus in the woods of Alaska? This is the question that Jon Krakauer's book tries to answer. While it doesn't—cannot—answer the question with certainty, Into the Wild does shed considerable light along the way. Not only about McCandless's "Alaskan odyssey," but also the forces that drive people to drop out of society and test themselves in other ways. Krakauer quotes Wallace Stegner's writing on a young man who similarly disappeared in the Utah desert in the 1930s: "At 18, in a dream, he saw himself ... wandering through the romantic waste places of the world. No man with any of the juices of boyhood in him has forgotten those dreams." Into the Wild shows that McCandless, while extreme, was hardly unique; the author makes the hermit into one of us, something McCandless himself could never pull...

Once a Runner – John L. Parker Jr.

Once a Runner

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The undisputed classic of running novels and one of the most beloved sports books ever published, Once a Runner tells the story of an athlete’s dreams amid the turmoil of the 60s and the Vietnam war.
Inspired by the author’s experience as a collegiate champion, the novel follows Quenton Cassidy, a competitive runner at fictional Southeastern University whose lifelong dream is to run a four-minute mile. He is less than a second away when the turmoil of the Vietnam War era intrudes into the staid recesses of his school’s athletic department. After he becomes involved in an athletes’ protest, Cassidy is suspended from his track team. Under the tutelage of his friend and mentor, Bruce Denton, a graduate student and former Olympic gold medalist, Cassidy gives up his scholarship, his girlfriend, and possibly his future to withdraw to a monastic retreat in the countryside and begin training for the race of his life against the greatest miler in history.

A rare insider’s account of the...



Into Thin Air – Jon Krakauer

Into Thin Air

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National Bestseller 
A bank of clouds was assembling on the not-so-distant horizon, but journalist-mountaineer Jon Krakauer, standing on the summit of Mt. Everest, saw nothing that "suggested that a murderous storm was bearing down." He was wrong. The storm, which claimed five lives and left countless more--including Krakauer's--in guilt-ridden disarray, would also provide the impetus for Into Thin Air, Krakauer's epic account of the May 1996 disaster.
By writing Into Thin Air, Krakauer may have hoped to exorcise some of his own demons and lay to rest some of the painful questions that still surround the event. He takes great pains to provide a balanced picture of the people and events he witnessed and gives due credit to the tireless and dedicated Sherpas. He also avoids blasting easy targets such as Sandy Pittman, the wealthy socialite who brought an espresso maker along on the expedition. Krakauer's highly personal inquiry into the catastrophe provides a great deal of insight into...

Touching the Void – Joe Simpson

Touching the Void

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Joe Simpson and his climbing partner, Simon Yates, had just reached the top of a 21,000-foot peak in the Andes when disaster struck. Simpson plunged off the vertical face of an ice ledge, breaking his leg. In the hours that followed, darkness fell and a blizzard raged as Yates tried to lower his friend to safety. Finally, Yates was forced to cut the rope, moments before he would have been pulled to his own death.

The next three days were an impossibly grueling ordeal for both men. Yates, certain that Simpson was dead, returned to base camp consumed with grief and guilt over abandoning him. Miraculously, Simpson had survived the fall, but crippled, starving, and severely frostbitten was trapped in a deep crevasse. Summoning vast reserves of physical and spiritual strength, Simpson crawled over the cliffs and canyons of the Andes, reaching base camp hours before Yates had planned to leave.

How both men overcame the torments of those harrowing days is an epic tale of fear, suffering,...

Eiger Dreams – Jon Krakauer

Eiger Dreams

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No one writes about mountaineering and its attendant hardships and victories more brilliantly than critically acclaimed author Jon Krakauer. In this collection of his finest work from such magazines as Outside and Smithsonian, he explores the subject from the unique and memorable perspective of one who has battled peaks like K2, Denali, Everest, and, of course, the Eiger. Always with a keen eye, an open heart, and a hunger for the ultimate experience, he gives us unerring portraits of the mountaineering experience.

Yet Eiger Dreams is more about people than about rock and ice―people with that odd, sometimes maniacal obsession with mountain summits that sets them apart from other men and women. Here we meet Adrian the Romanian, determined to be the first of his countrymen to solo Denali; John Gill, climber not of great mountains but of house-sized boulders so difficult to surmount that even demanding alpine climbs seem easy; and many more compelling and colorful characters. In the...

Natural Born Heroes – Christopher McDougall

Natural Born Heroes

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Christopher McDougall’s journey begins with a story of remarkable athletic prowess: On the treacherous mountains of Crete, a motley band of World War II Resistance fighters—an artist, a shepherd, and a poet—abducted a German commander from the heart of the Axis occupation. To understand how, McDougall retraces their steps across the island that birthed Herakles and Odysseus, and discovers ancient techniques for endurance, sustenance, and natural movement that have been preserved in unique communities around the world.
His search takes us scrambling over rooftops with a Parkour crew in London, foraging for greens with a ballerina in Brooklyn, tossing heavy pieces of driftwood on a Brazilian beach with the creator of MovNat—and, finally, to our own backyards. Natural Born Heroes will inspire readers to unleash the extraordinary potential of the human body and climb, swim, skip, throw, and jump their way to heroic feats.

Fat Man to Green Man – Ira Rainey

Fat Man to Green Man

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Runner Interview: Ira Rainey / Still Not Bionic Book Review

Trail Blazer – Ryan Sandes

Trail Blazer

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What does it take to run a six-day race through the world’s harshest deserts? Or 100 miles in a single day at altitudes that would leave you breathless just walking? More than that, though: what is it like to win these races?
South Africa’s ultra-trail-running superstar Ryan Sandes has done just that. Since bursting onto the international trail-running scene by winning the first multistage race he ever entered – the brutal Gobi March – Ryan has gone on to win various other multistage and single-day races around the globe.
Written with best-selling author and journalist Steve Smith, "Trail Blazer – My Life as an Ultra-distance Trail Runner" recounts the life story of this intrepid sportsman, from his experiences as a rudderless party animal to becoming a world-class athlete, and includes details on his training regimes, race strategies and aspirations for future sporting endeavors. Sports enthusiasts will enjoy the adrenaline-inducing trials and tribulations of one of South Africa’s...



A Life Without Limits – Chrissie Wellington

A Life Without Limits

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In 2007, Chrissie Wellington shocked the triathlon world by winning the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii. As a newcomer to the sport and a complete unknown to the press, Chrissie's win shook up the sport. A LIFE WITHOUT LIMITS is the story of her rise to the top, a journey that has taken her around the world, from a childhood in England, to the mountains of Nepal, to the oceans of New Zealand, and the trails of Argentina, and first across the finish line.
Wellington's first-hand, inspiring story includes all the incredible challenges she has faced--from anorexia to near--drowning to training with a controversial coach. But to Wellington, the drama of the sports also presents an opportunity to use sports to improve people's lives.
A LIFE WITHOUT LIMITS reveals the heart behind Wellington's success, along with the diet, training and motivational techniques that keep her going through one of the world's most grueling events.

ChiRunning – Danny Dreyer

ChiRunning

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The revised edition of the bestselling ChiRunning, a groundbreaking program from ultra-marathoner and nationally-known coach Danny Dreyer, that teaches you how to run faster and farther with less effort, and to prevent and heal injuries for runners of any age or fitness level.
In ChiRunning, Danny and Katherine Dreyer, well-known walking and running coaches, provide powerful insight that transforms running from a high-injury sport to a body-friendly, injury-free fitness phenomenon. ChiRunning employs the deep power reserves in the core muscles, an approach found in disciplines such as yoga, Pilates, and T’ai Chi.

ChiRunning enables you to develop a personalized exercise program by blending running with the powerful mind-body principles of T’ai Chi:

1. Get aligned. Develop great posture and reduce your potential for injury while running, and make knee pain and shin splints a thing of the past.

2. Engage your core. Shift the workload from your leg muscles to your core muscles, for...







Unbroken – Laura Hillenbrand

Unbroken

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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE • Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader’s Circle for author chats and more.

In boyhood, Louis Zamperini was an incorrigible delinquent. As a teenager, he channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics. But when World War II began, the athlete became an airman, embarking on a journey that led to a doomed flight on a May afternoon in 1943. When his Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean, against all odds, Zamperini survived, adrift on a foundering life raft. Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater. Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion. His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying...

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, November 2010: From Laura Hillenbrand, the bestselling author of Seabiscuit, comes Unbroken, the inspiring true story of a man who lived through a series of catastrophes almost too incredible to be believed. In evocative, immediate descriptions, Hillenbrand unfurls the story of Louie Zamperini--a juvenile delinquent-turned-Olympic runner-turned-Army hero. During a routine search mission over the Pacific, Louie’s plane crashed into the ocean, and what happened to him over the next three years of his life is a story that will keep you glued to the pages, eagerly awaiting the next turn in the story and fearing it at the same time. You’ll cheer for the man who somehow maintained his selfhood and humanity despite the monumental degradations he suffered, and you’ll want to share this book with everyone you know. --Juliet Disparte The Story of Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand Eight years ago, an old man told me a story that took my breath away. His name was...

Runner – Lizzy Hawker

Runner: A short story about a long run

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From a school girl running the streets of London to a world record-breaking athlete racing on mountains, long-distance runner Lizzy Hawker is an inspiration to anyone who would like to see how far they can go, running or not. This is the complete story of Lizzy’s journey, uncovering the physical, mental and emotional challenges that runners go through at the edge of human endurance.
Scared witless and surrounded by a sea of people, Lizzy Hawker stands in the church square at the centre of Chamonix on a late August evening, waiting for the start of the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc. The mountains towering over the pack of runners promise a gruelling 8,600 metres of ascent and descent over 158 kilometres of challenging terrain that will test the feet, legs, heart and mind. These nervous moments before the race signal not just the beginning of nearly twenty-seven hours of effort that saw Lizzy finish as first woman, but the start of the career of one of Britain’s most successful endurance...


Lizzy Hawker ‘Runner’ Book Review

Mind of a Survivor – Megan Hine

Mind of a Survivor

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Megan Hine ‘Mind of a Survivor’ Book Review

Running with the Kenyans

Running with the Kenyans

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“Completely satisfying, as well-paced and exhilarating as a good run.”—The Boston Globe
 
Whether running is your recreation or your religion, Adharanand Finn’s incredible journey to the elite training camps of Kenya will captivate and inspire you, as he ventures to uncover the secrets of the fastest people on earth. Finn’s mesmerizing quest combines a fresh look at barefoot running, practical advice on the sport, and the fulfillment of a lifelong dream: to run with his heroes. Uprooting his family of five, Finn traveled to a small, chaotic town in the Rift Valley province of Kenya—a mecca for long-distance runners, thanks to its high altitude, endless paths, and some of the top training schools in the world. There Finn would run side by side with Olympic champions, young hopefuls, and barefoot schoolchildren, and meet a cast of unforgettable characters. Amid the daily challenges of training and of raising a family abroad, Finn would learn invaluable lessons about running—and about...

Why We Run: A Natural History

Why We Run: A Natural History

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In Why We Run, biologist, award-winning nature writer, and ultramarathoner Bernd Heinrich explores a new perspective on human evolution by examining the phenomenon of ultraendurance and makes surprising discoveries about the physical, spiritual -- and primal -- drive to win. At once lyrical and scientific, Why We Run shows Heinrich's signature blend of biology, anthropology, psychology, and philosophy, infused with his passion to discover how and why we can achieve superhuman abilities.

Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why

Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why

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“Unique among survival books . . . stunning . . . enthralling. Deep Survival makes compelling, and chilling, reading.”―Denver Post

Over a decade since its original publication, Laurence Gonzales’s bestselling Deep Survival has helped save lives from the deepest wildernesses, just as it has improved readers’ everyday lives. Its mix of adventure narrative, survival science, and practical advice has inspired everyone from business leaders to military officers, educators, and psychiatric professionals on how to take control of stress, learn to assess risk, and make better decisions under pressure. Now with a new introduction on how this book can help readers overcome any of life’s obstacles, Gonzales’s gripping narrative is set to motivate and enlighten a new generation of readers.

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Alastair Dixon
Alastair Dixonhttps://www.trailandkale.com
Hey, I'm Alastair. 5 years ago I started Trail & Kale as a way to share the mental & physical benefits that trail running and nature had given me. Since then Trail & Kale has grown to become a thriving blog and community that inspires people to trail run, hike, adventure more, and live a healthy plant-based lifestyle.

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