Book Review: "Fartleks and Flatulence" by Dave Berridge

This an amusing read with David’s earthy writing style easy to get on with, even for a non-runner (my wife actually enjoyed it).  The book essentially covers David’s attempts at seventeen extreme,  ultra distance, adventure-type running races around the globe.  From the well known Marathon de Sable (MdS) in Morocco to the less well known Raid Amazonie, the Atacama Crossing and many more.

He doesn’t only like hot races either as he keeps returning to the Yukon Arctic Ultra in frozen Canada, gradually moving up from the 100 miler, then to the 320 miler and finally, the longest one they have on offer, the 430 mile event and all over a six year period.  Not sure what he’ll do now!

Whilst David started out on these adventures as a total novice, after watching a ten minute clip of the MdS on TV and having been the archetypal ‘couch potato’, making every mistake under the sun, he really did keep at it, learnt quickly and although he down plays his ability and often refers to himself as not a ‘race winner’ he is most certainly a race finisher!

It become clear over the 237 pages that Mr Berridge actually becomes quite good and eventually got onto the second step of the podium in the aforementioned Yukon Arctic Ultra 430 mile race.

His final quote sums up his approach to this fascinating branch of long distance running and its appeal to many:

“I have been beaten by older people of both sexes, people with limbs missing, people with pace makers fitted, hip replacements and cancer survivors. It doesn’t matter, I enter to see if I can reach the elusive finish line and when I do, the pain goes away, the smile returns and a feeling of joy, relief, bliss, happiness.  I haven’t the words to explain the feelings of finishing a tough challenge.”

This book will appeal to anyone with a sense of adventure whether put into practice or just dreamt about.  It would also be a useful read for anyone actually planning to do any of these challenges.

William Sichel

International Ultra distance Runner