The book

Why We Run: A story of obsession is available in the UK at In the US it is published under the title The Lure of Long Distances and is available at

‘Nominally, this is a book about extreme running…the grisly details are all there, and it’s hard not to revel in the gore. But where the book truly excels is in its depiction of Harvie’s internal landscape. These passages are as moving as they are illuminating. This is a memoir for anyone who has ever dreamed about reaching the outer limits of what they’re capable of.’

The Independent

‘Though this is at its heart a deeply personal memoir, Why We Run will resonate with every runner – especially as Harvie describes his joy, anxiety, pain, and excitement while struggling through the 2009 Spartathlon.’

Brooks Running

‘An erudite, literary memoir.’

The Observer

‘A story of endurance unimaginable to all but a handful of runners.’

The Financial Times

‘Every runner has a story, and Robin Harvie’s is one of the most remarkable I’ve ever encountered. Why We Run is brilliantly written, deeply emotional, raw and honest. Robin scrapes away the superficial dermis and offers a rare glimpse into the mindset and motivation of a long-distance runner.’

Dean Karnazes, Ultramarathoner and NY Times bestselling author

Everyone can run. Whether it is a jog around the park on a Sunday morning, or lining up with 40,000 other people at the start of the London Marathon, all it requires is a pair of trainers and the open road. But where does that road lead, and why do we run at all?

I ran my first marathon after a bet, but it wasn’t until I ventured 6,000 miles into the extreme world of ultra-distance running to the start line of the oldest and toughest footrace on earth, that I found an answer. As a hobby turned into a 120-mile-a-week obsession, so a way out of my daily routine evolved into a journey to discover who I was and what I was really made of.

Through the scorching heat of the desert and into the darkest hours of the morning, Why We Run reveals the beating heart of the brutal and profoundly intoxicating experience of running. If you have ever wondered what makes you lace up your trainers and why you keep coming back for more, this is your story too.

Why We Run is an astonishing memoir – wholly unlike any other writing about ‘running’ and ‘obsession’ that I have encountered. It is both eloquent and rawly emotional – candid to the point of pain, illuminating, and finally very touching. It will make all who read it, who are drawn to running, feel stirrings of true excitement, if just a bit tinged with dread! For Robin Harvie is a ‘real’ runner – and a ‘real’ writer, and though competition is not the point, as the memoirist makes clear, in this case he is an uncontested winner.’

Joyce Carol Oates

‘An intensely personal journey, woven with memoir, philosophy, history, and pain,  Robin Harvie’s debut is by turns compulsive, challenging, and ultimately rewarding – a magnificent literary marathon in itself.’

Philip Hoare, author of Leviathan Or, The Whale, winner of the BBC Samuel Johnson prize for non-fiction

2 Responses to The book

  1. Pingback: Scott Jurek Talk at Bloomsbury Institute « A marathon and more.

  2. Pingback: Chat with Robin Harvie, author of “Why we run” « A marathon and more.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s