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Running with some of the fastest people in the world

By Allison Kooser

You don’t have to be a runner to enjoy our Opportunity Book Club pick this August—but if you are, Out of Thin Air: Running Wisdom and Magic from Above the Clouds in Ethiopia by Michael Crawley may change the way you think about your jogs forever. 

For fifteen months, Crawley lived and trained alongside Ethiopian runners, who historically hold six of the top ten fastest marathon times ever. He woke up at 3 a.m. for runs around Addis Ababa, endured long miles in the forest, and even joined the runners on race day.

As both an anthropologist and a runner, Crawley occupied a unique space in his research, balancing the dual desires to both keep up with his new, speedy friends and also understand their perspectives and processes. The book explores runners’ relationship to the environment, the communal energy that inspires them, and the joy that surrounds the sport.

The Guardian calls Out of Thin Air “inspiring,” and we couldn’t agree more. Opportunity International has discovered that same spirit and tenacity Crawley describes in our own work in Ethiopia and around the world. Each and every day, clients are tackling enormous challenges, putting one foot in front of the other to make a way for their families.

We hope you enjoy following Crawley’s journey as much as we did. And if you have a runner (or non-runner!) in mind who may enjoy Out of Thin Air, too, share it with them!

Happy reading!

Have a friend who would enjoy reading with us, too? Help us grow by inviting your friends and fellow readers—just send them here: opportunity.org/bookclub

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