I borrowed Pants of Perspective by Anna McNuff from my running coach. I had intended to save it for an upcoming vacation – it looked like perfect beach reading. The problem was that I started the book BEFORE vacation and could not put it down. It’s an easy read –funny and poignant– and I learned about New Zealand geography along the way (reality: I knew nothing, and had to do an online search to see the layout).
Anna McNuff is an adventure seeking runner and cyclist from England. In 2015 she decided to run the length of New Zealand on the Te Araroa Trail (yes, I had to look that one up, too). For reference, New Zealand is 1911 miles long. Spoiler: if she has a book about it, you know she finished, but it took her 148 days to do so. She was unsupported with the exception of a few scheduled stops along the way, but during the day time running, she carried her backpack with all her gear and ran her body into the ground. The most she ran in a day was 52km. Along the way, she stopped in schools to give talks and fund-raise for Outward Bound.
What I liked most about the book was the story-telling. It reads like a diary written in real time. I truly laughed out loud as she described days of running through horrible conditions (I’m sure it always rains in New Zealand). She had to cross rivers, learn to use a compass, follow trail guides (look, unless they are spaced every 5 feet apart, I’m sure to get lost – she did, too), and dig deep on the loneliest of days (the trail isn’t exactly a high tourist attraction). She sang at the top of her lungs, danced, ran out of food and water more than once, and never turned down a pint or an orange scone when she ran into a new town.
148 days of tramping through New Zealand never read so fast – I’m so glad I picked up the book. You can follow Anna’s adventures in running on her website Anna McNuff