Running South America – With My Husband and Other Animals

By Katharine Lowrie | Whittles Publishing | Paperback | August 2017 | 240 Pages | ISBN: 9781849953627

Running South America
Running South America

The Publisher’s View:

Running marathons back-to-back, sleeping by the side of the road, giving presentations to remote schools that had never been visited by their own kinsfolk – let alone a pair of gringos emerging barefoot from the forest spattered in brick-red Amazon mud and pulling a bright orange bamboo trailer, this is the remarkable story of personal endurance that gives an engrossing insight into the people and wildlife of South America.

It is the story of two everyday runners, Katharine and David, who decided to take on a continent and learn how to run again – barefoot, pushing their bodies and minds to levels they had never considered possible in a bid to become the first in the world to run the length of South America, to give a voice to the wildlife and wildernesses they adore.

Running laid them bare, stripped them of the shell people journey within, so all they had to rely on was their own bare feet. Yet this very vulnerability provided the key to unlocking communities who would fling open their doors, tuck them under their wings and whisper their secrets.

Amazing animals accompanied them: gigantic vaulting stick-insects; cackling macaws who wheeled and pirouetted in the sky, desperately trying to gain a better view of them; and a giant anteater whom they stalked through a snake-infested swamp, so they could stand within an arm’s length as he devoured termites upon the end of his long sticky tongue. It was also an animal, if one of the most diminutive, that nearly succeeded in ending their dreams of conquering the continent – an ant! But when their joints and muscles were screaming, when they couldn’t stand the sight of one another and when prickly heat, blisters and tropical ulcers infested their skin, it was the wildlife and wildernesses that pulled them through.

Day after day, for months on end, running from freezer through desert and into the biggest rainforest on earth, they survived hurricane-force winds, near 100% humidity, swarms of biting insects and some of the most crime-ridden places on the planet. The expedition nearly cost them their marriage, health, sanity and lives. But somehow, they made it to the other end of the continent, 6,504 miles and 15 months later, when they splashed into the warm and much-dreamed of Caribbean Sea.

Fatbirder View: This has become something of a ‘dip into’ book for me. I found it quite hard to read in the normal way as the narrative becomes very tangential. This is not a bad thing per se, but at times it’s difficult to follow the author as she described the day, gives detail to an issue encountered, then offers her or local opinion on the issue, not always returning to the original narrative. Any other approach would be less rich but it has meant me picking the book up and putting it down many times rather than my normal route of starting at the beginning and keeping going to the end.I’m still dipping and still learning whilst being in complete awe of their dedication and achievement.

Other Views: ‘I am awe-inspired and deeply impressed’.–Dean Karnazes, World Ultra Marathon Runner

‘A gruelling and challenging run for a vitally important cause… an extraordinary marathon’.–HRH Prince of Wales

The Author: Katharine Lowrie is an Ecologist for the RSPB

Fatbirder View: