Having realised his dream of running at least a half marathon on all seven continents before his 70th birthday, Doug Richards – author of Running Hot & Cold and Can We Run With You, Grandfather? – travels to new remote locations for his next challenge: to complete 24,902 miles, the equivalent of the circumference of the Earth’s equator. Having discovered running late in life, Doug’s journey took him from an initial one-mile run to completing long races across deserts, mountains, jungles, snow and ice. In Once Around the Planet, he shares his latest adventures, contending with a pandemic and recurring anxiety as he returns to the marathon distance in Venice, runs among ancient Moai statues on Easter Island, across volcanic rim trails and hot springs in the Azores, lava formations in the Akamas peninsula of Cyprus and ventures into the mysterious confines of the Bermuda Triangle. More than just a book for runners, Once Around the Planet gives candid insight into Doug’s battles with anxiety and depression, the inevitable decline in performance as he enters his 70s and the key role running can play in good mental health.
About the author
Doug Richards, a retired medical scientist, is the author of Running Hot & Cold and Can We Run With You, Grandfather?, two books that trace his running journey from a run of a single mile to completing at least a half marathon on all seven continents. In 2022, Doug was named as ‘Running Adventurer of the Year (UK)’ in the Fitness and Nutrition Awards of Global Health & Pharma.
What is the book about?
Doug’s new book, Once Around The Planet, centres around his challenge to cover the distance of the Earth’s equatorial circumference in his lifetime. Doug has been a runner for the latter 40 years of his life, and has travelled extensively, completing races all over the world. In his 70s, he focuses on running half marathon races on islands all over the world, including the Azores, and the very exotic Easter Island.
Although at first glance the book seems like a running travel memoir, Doug actually delves deeply into his own anxiety, and also reveals how the ageing process affects his running.
The book starts in Venice, as Doug prepares to run a marathon in his eight decade, but as we find out, things do not always go to plan.
Doug takes us on a very vivid journey to Easter Island, the Azores, and back to Venice, before heading to Cyprus and Bermuda. He describes not only the physical locations, but gives us a real sense of different cultures too, something that really comes across from his descriptions of his visit to Easter Island.
Doug writes in the first person, really allowing the the reader into his thoughts and feelings, and this enables you to really get to know Doug as you read. You, the reader, are on an emotional journey with the author, experiencing the same ups and downs and he does. The chapters aren’t really divided into separate locations, instead they follow a good storyline, as you really want to find out what happens next.
Doug includes lots of colour photographs in his book to really help the reader visualise the exotic locations he has visited, although I did also find myself Googling locations to find out more, especially what the Bermuda Triangle Challenge medal looked like!
This is a book not just about running and travel, but also senescence, and the inevitable sacrifices we must make as we age. Additionally it tackles mental health, and how that can be both impacted by, and impact on, our running.
What did I like about the book?
As somebody who runs to explore, and who enjoys new running adventures, as well as seeing new places, I really enjoyed Doug’s book. What surprised me was how well I felt I got to know Doug as I read on – he is very open about his mental health and he really connects with the reader. It was a pleasure to interview Doug for the UKRunChat podcast after reading this, and you can listen here:
Who is the book for?
This book is for anyone with an innate sense of adventure, who enjoys the notion of running to explore. Doug very much embodies this idea, and it’s a very inspiring read.
In summary, an enjoyable running travel memoir with an important mental health message, and a book that will inspire you to want to continue running into your 70s.
This book, which was provided free of charge, was reviewed by Michelle Mortimer for UKRunChat.