This is part bio; part running manual and more. On November 6th, 2005 Paul Tergat won the New York Marathon over the reigning champion from South Africa, Hendrick Ramaal and it could hardly have been closer. Some friends of mine were saying, the second guy lost the race still; I thought, hmmmn, what does one say to that? But I am reading this book, chapter 5 speaks of Tergats "eternal" battles with another reknown runner, Haile Gebrsellassie, stating that Paul lost by only a nine hundredth of a second against the Ethiopian at Sydney 2000 and it certainly put that discussion in perspective.
I really, got carried off on a tangent there, but this book does discuss many details such as that; it is jammed with photos of Tergat and those usually carry his indelible smile and when I say jammed with photos I mean there must be at least a hundred on a conservative estimate. The book in some ways, is like reading a magazine article complete with photos except this article is over some 200 pages.
The book also details some of the training regimens of Kenyan runners complete with schedules and here, I believe some clarification is needed. It is indeed, learning to run the "Kenyan" style. Though, I would not consider myself a real real runner and certainly not a marathon runner which this book seems to emphasize, I can compare it though with the numerous books out there on how to run, how to prepare for a marathon, 10k, etc. and it treats the subject very well. I do not know the book "The greatest" on Gebrselassie but another track book to which is compares favorably too, is by US standout Michael Johnson "Slaying the dragon." In fact, what I would like about this Tergat book, is that it is printed on a paper similar to your standard magazine, slick paper and includes the photographs in color. Though the book is by Swiss journalist Jung Wirz, included are many paragraphs verbatim from Tergat on running, training and even on life and his life growing up. I did a double-look to see if he was listed as a co-author because really, it is very close. These quotations of Paul's are always in blue. A very well done book.
Tributes to Tergat, his endeavors such as publishing the magazine, "Athlete" a Kenyan track magazine, discussions of his doctor Rosa etc. makes this book very complete.
However I once met some Kenyan runners, training in a "high altitude" location. The book mentions the diets of Kenyan runners and to me is almost worthy of purchasing on that basis alone because of their graces, they allowed me to dine with them a few times and that is priceless? I was generally aware of their diet, but had some questions. Mursiik is sour milk, maziwa lala is a fermented milk. The runners I met, always had buttermilk. Perhaps there is a slight difference. The book does not call it buttermilk, but as to my own thoughts, I wonder if these are one and the same? At times, in this book, I do wonder, if the Swiss writer, Wirz always uses the most appropriate English translations but it does not stand in the way. It is probably correct in fact. Kenyans in the US will eat spinach but the related plant back in Kenya may be slightly different and has the name Sukuma Wiki.
Tiny details I have singled out, is why this book is also very fascinating to read just in order to get a background on Kenya and its culture. Yes, surely, a "Wazungu" like me and many others would appreciate this book.