Surviving the Toughest Race on Earth


By: Martin Dugard, Gerard Fusil
Published by: McGraw-Hill
Hardback, 202 pages
Buy it.

Publication date: February 1998
Price: $13.97
ISBN: 0070181292

The Southern Traverse, the Eco-Challenge, the Raid Gauloises--the words conjure up images of adventure, intrigue, exotic lands, and exhausted athletes. Adventure racing is quickly replacing mountain biking as the sport of the nineties. Martin Dugard, a journalist who coined the term "adventure racing" has followed it from its inception, either as a journalist or an athlete, and this book tells the story superbly.

Looking for some way to sever the corporate umbilical cord, Dugard was surprised when he found himself in Madagascar covering the Raid Gauloises for Runner's World. Mark Burnett, founder of Eco-Challenge had personally requested him, to write the article on the first American Team in the 1993 race. Team American Pride failed miserably, but for Dugard it was a moment of apprehensive triumph. He never went back to work after that.

As Dugard watched the finishers cross through the last checkpoint, he observed something strange in each racer. An almost spiritual tranquility played across their faces. For Dugard it was intoxicating. He covered the race the next year and saw the same thing. He silently committed that he would one day finish the Raid.

"You, my friend, will suffer," were the words that Dugard heard from Raid Gauloises organizer Gerard Fusil. Dugard had covered several races and had dropped out of the 1995 Patagonia race. Yet he still felt the drive to complete the race. Without a team, and in a last place start, Fusil granted Dugard's request.

If you're looking for a book about the logistics of participating in an adventure race, keep looking. Surviving the Toughest Race on Earth is about the struggle to realize one's goals, about the inter-personal relationships that we develop as we struggle through life's challenges, about the disappointment of seeing your dreams cheated away from you, and about the triumph of the human spirit. Read this book if you want to see what it is like to race in the Raid Gaulioses. Then if you still need to know more, finish the Raid.

Reviewed by John Walter

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