Running Free by Richard Askwith

Running Free is probably my most controversial book so far, but it may be the closest to my heart. It takes two of my lifelong passions – running and the English countryside – and celebrates what happens when you mix them together.

Part rural memoir, part how-to guide for off-road running, part manifesto for a return to the non-commercial basics of running, it is above all a hymn to the joys of being active in the great outdoors.

From mud-races to mountain man-hunts, cheese-rolling to being chased by bloodhounds – or simply running through the fields with my dog at dawn – this is an exploration of what can happen if you step away from track, tarmac and treadmill and lose yourself, sometimes literally, in the rural landscape.

This isn’t running as the running industry understands it, but in my view it’s something richer: the kind of running that refreshes the spirit through immersion in nature and reminds us how, by escaping man-made environments and reconnecting with the land, we can sometimes make ourselves feel more human.

The quickest way to get a flavour of Running Free might be to read this article, which I wrote when it came out. Or you could just buy a copy – the paperback shouldn’t cost more than £8.99…

What the critics said:

“A joyous, eloquent and lyrical account of one man’s lifelong love affair with running” Guardian

“Exhilarating” The Times

“Intelligent, evocative, passionate and above all enjoyable” Independent on Sunday

“The most beautifully written book I have read in ages” Evening Standard

“A much needed breath of air” Independent

“Idiosyncratic, enjoyable… never less than compelling” Observer

“An escape from the stopwatch tyranny of PBs and split times, this is a reminder of how to run for sheer joy” Runner’s World

“Wonderful writing” Huffington Post

“Delightful and endearing… a contemplation of the beauty and joy of experiencing the world out there, beyond the tarmac” The Fellrunner

‘It’s the prod you need to make you step off the pavement and into the wild’
Guardian, 28 February, 2014

Watch a 60-second review by Alexandra Heminsley:


Running Free was short-listed for the 2015 Thwaites Wainwright Prize for UK Nature and Travel Writing.


Buy on Amazon: click here

Download the eBook from iTunes: click here

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