Book Review: RUNNING ON EMPTY by Marshall Ulrich

April 4, 2011, at about 2:30pm, I gladly received a package from a courier. Not knowing what it was, I immediately opened the package.

This is what I got!

Surprised and overly curious at what I have, I settled to read that same late afternoon. The book caught my attention in everyway. I could very much relate to a lot of things that the author went through. It was amazingly captivating. I was in awe of what Marshall Ulrich went through to complete the distance. It was more than just tough mind, body and soul. It’s a collective victory of all those involved. From the crew to the friends who never lose faith.

The drama of the whole story is just so fluid that you can never tell when the twists will come. Indeed, the feat alone is extraordinarily awesome. I guess the love story within is what made it all possible at all. It’s a mix of faith, love and hope, and depression and tiresome routine of dedicated crewing.

Marshall’s character was battered, tested and pummeled. In the end, victorious still. Both from overcoming all the emotions, enduring the pain, and completing the “job” at hand.

This book is a must read for all – seasoned and new ultrarunners. Not just for admiring the record set but in learning how Marshall Ulrich did it, with the important help of his wife, the whole crew, family and friends.

Marshall Ulrich in his own words:

I may not be the fastest runner, but I am one of the most obstinate.

Decades of training and confidence-building helped me surrender and accept the suffering. After years and years of thinking about it, I believe that such suffering offers a unique gift, allowing to profoundly appreciate living, to pay attention to the little things, like the comfort of sitting in a chair or enjoying a meal on a plate with a fork and a spoon. These simple pleasures become infused with quiet joy, and the deeper things in life – love, compassion, connection – become supremely meaningful in the present moment.

If you pursue it long enough, running can certainly teach you about mindlessness and, perhaps, give you a sense of being “open to time and death painlessly”.

Generally, ultrarunning is a sport where people do more than just play fair; we encourage one another to excel, because it pushes the envelope of human endurance. We also hold one another accountable, sometimes through ribbing.

No matter how lonely I sometimes felt, never was I truly alone out there.

How could I not realize that the people who surrounded me today were reason enough to go on?

No matter how unique any of us wants to believe we are, all of us hurt, suffer and feel sadness. Some of us are just better at covering it up.

Note: The appendices at the back of the book summarized all the important details of the run as follows:
* Training Schedule
* Course Statistics
* Nutrition and Diet
* Injuries, Ailments and Treatments
* Supplies, Clothing, and Gear
* Charities, Sponsors, and Partners


3 thoughts on “Book Review: RUNNING ON EMPTY by Marshall Ulrich

  1. Thank you so much for posting about Running on Empty. With help from you, and so many others, we’re grateful that the word is being spread about the book. Hope you enjoy the read!
    Heather (Vose) Ulrich

  2. I was absolutely stoked to have listened to Marshall talk and have him sign his book at Giba Gorge, Durban, South Africa. It was the week before the comrades marathon. What an awesome evening. Very glad to have briefly met both Marshall and Heather and to have cheered Marshall from the side of the road during comrades. I hope you both enjoyed your stay in south africa.

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