‘Born to Run’ author speaks to University

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“Born to Run” author Christopher McDougall speaks to the University

In Focus Editor and In Focus Editor

Campus and community members came to the Union Ballroom Tuesday night for a common cause to hear the author of the common read, Christopher McDougall, speak about his experiences.

McDougall wrote the book “Born to Run,” which highlighted his experience looking for a tribe called the Tarahumara who live in the Copper Canyons of Mexico.

“It was a surprise to find this story,” McDougall said in his speech. “I wanted to know why the Tarahumara in Mexico had perfect health and perfect society.”

He explained the tribe has no history of cancer, heart disease or common illnesses that we have today along with no troubles with child or domestic abuse as well.

“It had to have something to do with the fact they could run long distances,” he said. His story evolved to explaining how he found that we, as a human species, survived by running very long distances and how that’s what we are designed to do.

Rodney Rogers, senior vice president and provost, introduced McDougall and said the story started with one simple question.

“Why [do] my feet hurt?” he said. “[McDougall] wanted to know why and what that question lead to was an amazing learning adventure.”

Rogers helped pick out the book as the common read for the year, as the book that all freshmen would be required to read before they started their first year.

“The way it worked was we had a committee of faculty, staff and students and another one from the community,” he said. “They reviewed many books then came up with a list for the top three. We then had to chose which one was best to provide students with a lot of perspectives and one that we could plan events around.”

Chair of the Common Reading Experience Danna Nelson-Beene was in charge of organizing the event along with her committee.

“We brought in the author and started with a fun run this morning,” Nelson-Beene said. “He has been interacting with the students all day. He is an interesting person.”

Freshman Christopher Carter came to the speech for the book signing the author hosted afterward and for his organization.

“I liked [the book],” Carter said. “It was slow at first but nice, it had a good purpose; the book showed we can do anything we put our mind to. It was inspirational.”

Mayor Richard Edwards also came to hear McDougall speak.

“I love the book, my wife loved the book,” Edwards said. “Him coming tonight brought a common interest within the community.”

Edwards had worked with President Mary Ellen Mazey to make the common read a connection between the University and the community.

“We both worked for a visioning process and this is a bi-product,” Edwards said. “I’m here to really celebrate bringing the community and University together. We have struggled a little these past years but we are coming back.”

While many of the students who read the book for the Common Reading Assignment, freshman Cameron Bokas read the book a year before coming to the University.

“I came because it’s one of my favorite books,” Bokas said. “And I really wanted to meet him.”

The speech was interesting, informative and built upon the knowledge he already knew, Bokas said.

He didn’t know there was a book signing after the speech, so he ran back to his home to get his copy and came back for the signing.

“I’ve been a runner ever since third grade,” he said. “I read this book when I heard that it wasn’t like the other running books out there, and they were right.”

However, there was one person who wasn’t inspired to run.

“I’m not a runner like [McDougall],” Edwards said, “but I’ve done a lot of long distance walking.”