Reference Point

July 12, 2009|By June Sawyers | June Sawyers,Tribune Newspapers

Great Races, Incredible Places: 100+ Fantastic Runs Around the World

Bantam, $16

Running around the world is an obsession to Kimi Puntillo. She has participated in every race known to mankind, or so it seems, from 1-mile runs to marathons. In fact, she has run a marathon on every continent. In this gift to runners everywhere, Puntillo describes 100 races around the world, such as a marathon and half-marathon in Antarctica. Getting there, she says, is not easy, nor is it for anyone who needs crowds to cheer him or her on.

"The only onlookers I saw were three parka-clad Chileans, singing and clenching a bottle of vodka, who offered me a cigarette."

She describes the barefoot runners of the Mount Kilimanjaro Marathon and Summit Club and, back in North America, the Mount Washington Road Race in New Hampshire, which takes place on one hill, a summit of 4,650 feet, and may sound easy but, as Puntillo points out, the steep grade reaches 22 percent on the last 50 yards, the air is thin and the weather unpredictable.

She also includes the coldest race on record (the Siberian Ice Marathon at 38 below Fahrenheit), the Bare Buns Fun Run at the Kaniksu Ranch Nudist Park at Loon Lake, Wash. (Runners are required to wear sneakers, though), and the New York Road Runners Empire State Building Run-Up, as runners climb up 1,576 stairs. (Wearing a gorilla suit or a blond wig is optional, although some climbers apparently have done it.)

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