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After a decade-long addiction to crack cocaine and alcohol, Charlie Engle hit bottom with a near-fatal six-day binge that ended in a hail of bullets. As Engle got sober, he turned to running, which became his lifeline, his pastime, and his salvation. He began with marathons, and when marathons weren't far enough, he began to take on ultramarathons, races that went for thirty-five, fifty, and sometimes hundreds of miles, traveling to some of the most unforgiving places on earth to race. The Matt Damon-produced documentary, Running the Sahara, followed Engle as he lead a team on a harrowing, record breaking 4,500-mile run across the Sahara Desert, which helped raise millions of dollars for charity.
Charlie's growing notoriety led to an investigation and a subsequent unjust conviction for mortgage fraud. Engle would spend sixteen months in federal prison in Beckley, West Virginia. While in jail, he pounded the small prison track, running endlessly in circles. Soon his fellow inmates were joining him, struggling to keep their spirits up in dehumanizing circumstances.
In Running Man, Charlie Engle tells the gripping, surprising, funny, emotional, and inspiring story of his life, detailing his setbacks and struggles--from coping with addiction to serving time in prison--and how he blazed a path to freedom by putting one foot in front of the other. This is a propulsive, raw, and triumphant story about finding the threshold of human endurance, and transcending it.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-07-04
- Reviewer: Staff
First-time author Engle’s fascinating account of the high and low points of his life as an ultramarathon runner is written with cinematic quality. Starting with a bleak depiction of himself as “a middle-aged white guy who ran laps alone” in a prison’s recreation yard, Engle flashes back to life as a 29-year-old drug addict at the end of a 10-year addiction to cocaine, “sitting in a gutter, in filthy clothes, my fingers black and blistered.” What saves him is a love of running, and he becomes an amazing marathon runner. His career peaks with a record-breaking 4,500-mile run across the Sahara Desert, captured in a Matt Damon–produced documentary, Running the Sahara. But a subsequent investigation by the IRS, focusing on income reported on a home loan application, leads to a 16-month stint in a West Virginia jail in 2011, a conviction that New York Times writer Joe Nocera publicized as unfair. Engle’s story has an uplifting and inspirational ending: he decides to spend his time in prison training for a 135-mile race that he successfully runs after his release, which reinvigorates his career as a runner. Agent: Deborah Grosvenor, Deborah Grosvenor Literary. (Sept.)