© Copyright – 2023 – Athletics Illustrated
Title: Running with Sherman: How a Rescue Donkey Inspired a Rag-Tag Gang of Runners to Enter the Craziest Race in America
Author: Christopher McDougall
Publisher: Vintage Books, a division of Pengiun Random House LLC., NY
Publish date: July, 2020
E-book ISBN: 978-1-5247-3237-0
“You may have seen a housefly, maybe even a superfly, but I bet you ain’t never seen a donkey fly.”
—Donkey, from the movie Shrek.
Movie goers will remember the loveable (and eyeroll-causing) character “Donkey” from the Shrek franchise voiced by Eddie Murphy. Until then, donkeys were — to most people — considered stubborn, short on personality and perhaps even ornary. But, they have a reputation as terrific pack animals that can go for many miles.
Author Christopher McDougall does little to dispel the popular belief, in fact he enhances it — except for one thing. After reading Running with Sherman, readers will discover that donkeys do have personality, or perhaps character. Just as McDougall’s best-selling book Born to Run caused a minimalism craze, it will be of little surprise if burro racing has increased since the release of Running with Sherman in mid-2020.
McDougall, a runner, got into burro racing under the most unlikely circumstances. He adopted a rescue donkey, who his daughters helped name Sherman. Until Sherman, the McDougall’s experience with animals started with one cat, followed by chickens, then goats (also with character), then Sherman. Then somehow there were three donkeys, three fellow runners and a rag-tag group of supporters who eventually were off to the races.
In the heart of Amish country, the McDougalls befriended the so-called throwbacks and through great writing skill manages to makes a case for their lifestyle. Mix in Menonites, donkey whisperers, and some people challenged with life and mental health issues and their inevitable rebound, in part, because of the donkeys, you have a recipe for a story, you cannot create as fiction.
Running with Sherman is a laugh out loud page-turner.
McDougall’s voice on the page is vivid and his enthusiasm for the story drips off the page. He pocesses the ability to find the story and the personality within each real-life character and then embellishes enough so the reader can get to know the person — its a skill few carry off well.
The inevitable race ends the book. McDougall takes us to the start and through the finish line, but the bulk of the story is about hurdling unique life challenges and overcoming well-entrenched beliefs about donkeys. Some are perpuated here, for example, the often referred to behavior of “Eeyoring.”
There was no Eeyoring during the World Championship Pack Burro Race in Fairplay Colorado. It was a donkey gathering of epic proportions; a donkeypalooza.
Running with Sherman is a recommended read.
Description from the World Championships
The first year of the World Championship Pack Burro Race in 1949 saw 21 entrants with only 8 finishing the race. These days there are nearly 100 racers and burros that take on this historic challenge. Some choose the “lower altitude” short course of approximately 15 miles while others take on the long course and attempt the grueling climb to the top of Mosquito Pass and back, 29+ miles and an elevation change of 3,232′! The racers start at 9,953 feet in Fairplay with long course runners hitting their halfway point at the top of Mosquito Pass, elevation 13,185′!