Trail running may well be the first sport. “Way before we were scratching pictures on caves or beating rhythms on hollow trees,” writes best-selling author Christopher McDougall, “we were perfecting the art of combining our breath and mind and muscles into fluid self-propulsion over wild terrain.”

Born to Run, McDougall’s narrative on the Stone Age running culture of the super-athlete Tarahumara Indians in Mexico, is one of the most provocative pieces of endurance-sport writing...

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