My talking book consumption continues and most recently I took Chrissie Wellington along for a few rides and runs with her book; A Life Without Limits.
Again (similar to the Finding Ultra review) I’ll try and keep things brief. The book covers pretty much Chrissie’s life from growing up in England and joining the local swim team to winning her 4th Ironman World Championship in Kona in 2011. Given that she has won the World Championships 4 times there is not a lot of her life that is out in the public domain already; her work in Development for the British Government and various NGOs, her cycling and trekking in the Himalayas and South America and her involvement with controversial coach Brett Sutton.
What she does put on the record is her struggle with her body and with bulimia; she is both candid and open about this issue, her vegetarian trials and how she finally arrived at a healthy and happy relationship with food.
Her careers are covered in great detail; athletic and non athletic and both offer an interesting insight into her personality, passion and drive. As a result of her travels through Africa during her gap year in University she diverted her career from one of aspiring lawyer to one of human relief and development. Her journey to triathlon took a circuitous one from gaining experience during her Nepal cycling exploits and wrestling with her body image that resulted in her running which in turn led up to her first marathon. From there an introduction to a Tri club and from there her aspiring Olympic dreams and discovery of Long Course triathlon. Both minor and major races are covered including her bursting onto the World stage in 2007 in Hawaii and the subsequent defended Championships, the withdrawal from the 2010 race. Also covered are the Challenge Roth Races for which she holds the World Record. All are described in great detail and are exciting to listen to (or of course read).
The latter chapters cover her involvement with the Blazeman Foundation and other charities, her break up with her coach Brett Sutton and the transition to her new coach Dave Scott (of numerous World Championships and Iron War fame) and her romance with Tom Lowe. What isn’t covered is what is next, I guess we will have to wait and see.
Sometimes it’s hard to get a feel for the real person by simply listening to or reading their words, but one thing I am left with after this book is that she is a genuine, compassionate and caring person, fiercely competitive but vulnerable at the same time.
Overall I really enjoyed this book; it’s well written and well narrated by Polly Lee, who like Chrissie is also British, some of the pronunciations will throw the American listener, some of them in fact threw me…and I am British but don’t worry there are not to many errant “U”s used! The intro is read by Lance Armstrong and the epilogue is read by Chrissie herself. It’s a quick listen (9.54) so with two three hour rides and a couple of 10 miles and it’s done!
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