Running to the Edge
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