Run­ning to the Edge

Canadian Running - - REVIEWS - Martin Par­nell Rocky Moun­tain Books

Be­fore read­ing Martin Par­nell’s lat­est book, Run­ning to the Edge, I won­dered, “Which edge?” As I read through this ul­tra en­durance ma­niac's ul­tra-al­tru­is­tic mem­oir about rais­ing shock­ing sums for chil­dren's char­ity, I came to re­al­ize the ti­tle’s mul­ti­ple mean­ings. Par­nell pushes him­self to the edge of cliffs, peaks, oceans, ex­haus­tion and san­ity in his en­durance quests to raise money for Right to Play, a char­ity whose man­date is to ed­u­cate and em­power chil­dren around the world though sport. What does he get at the end of a 61-hour game of net ball, or a 1,000-kilo­me­tre run around the coast of his na­tive Eng­land? The sat­is­fac­tion of know­ing that his ef­forts have helped thou­sands of chil­dren across the world. “When help­ing oth­ers it’s up to all of us. In life you don’t have to do a lot, but you have to do some­thing,” says Par­nell.

The book moves along at an up­beat yet ca­sual pace. Par­nell makes sure to men­tion the peo­ple that sup­ported him in all his en­deav­ours be­cause he is the first to ad­mit, it’s not easy rais­ing funds for char­ity. Nor is it easy to pull off 10 zany com­pe­ti­tions to hope­fully land the ef­forts in the Guin­ness Book of World Records, or get off Mount Kil­i­man­jaro while suf­fer­ing from hy­pother­mia. “My pur­pose is to bring the reader along with me through the good and bad times,” says Par­nell.

Race di­rec­tors and vol­un­teers will be nod­ding in agree­ment as he ex­plains the frus­tra­tion of or­ga­niz­ing events. Ath­letes will cringe at the ag­o­nies of his ef­forts but read on be­cause we all have the de­sire to see some­one con­quer chal­lenges and ac­com­plish goals. Af­ter each chal­lenge, a tally of the money raised and who will ben­e­fit is listed. His goal is mighty, and cre­ates an al­lur­ing nar­ra­tive premise: $1 mil­lion to help over 20,000 kids. A near-death ex­pe­ri­ence only adds to the story, push­ing Par­nell to one of the many dif­fer­ent edges he runs along in this in­spir­ing and fun read.— Joanne Elves

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