‘Running with Sherman: The Donkey with the Heart of a Hero’ by Christopher McDougall (2019)

Christopher McDougall’s first book, Born to Run, became a huge bestseller and sent the barefoot running movement into the mainstream.  He used the story of the Tahamara runners to explain how humans were born to run (and run barefoot).

His second book ‘Natural Born Heroes’ used the story of Greek resistance fighters on Crete to explain how humans have vast unused athletic potential and to take a deeper look at the parkour movement.

I loved both these books.  Despite this, on seeing that McDougall’s new book, Running with Sherman, was about a rescue donkey named Sherman, I hesitated, thinking this wouldn’t be for me.  I was wrong.  Running with Sherman fully lives up to McDougall’s incredibly high standards.

McDougall beautifully tells the story of how, together with friends and family, he rehabilitated a neglected injured donkey. The narrative builds around a unique adventure race where participants team up donkeys to cross miles of difficult terrain.  It is an uplifting, inspiring and heart-warming tale of triumph over adversity.

Video of Sherman posted by the author on YouTube

It’s a beautiful story told exceptionally well.  McDougall sucks you in as your come to passionately care for this poor donkey and become invested in the outcome of the adventure race.  All the while, in his trademark style, McDougall uses Sherman’s story to explore a much deeper truth – how the relationship between animals and humans is fundamental to the human condition.  Animals make us happier, healthier, fitter, and all round better off.  The bond between Sherman and some of the team working with McDougall made a huge difference in improving their mental health and general well-being.

I’ve always found McDougall’s books incredibly inspiring.  While getting and caring for a rescue animal is beyond my capabilities sadly, I am going to be in Pennsylvania in September 2020 when the Bird-in-Hand half marathon that features at one point in the book is on so…. I’ve signed up for it as motivation – 7 months to build up to 13 miles!

Thanks for the inspiration Chris!


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