Author: Serge Roetheli
Title: The 25,000 Mile Love Story
Length: 5 years
strong athlete, weak book
The story: We’re in 1997, and SR has just returned from running all the way from South America to Alaska. He was accompanied by his wife on a motorcycle, and since this „American Challenge“ is now behind them, they decide to embark on a world tour. They start running (motorcycling) in Switzerland in the year 2000, making it through Africa, parts of Asia and Australia and then again through parts of the Americas, and in the end, they will have spanned a distance equivalent to the length of the equator – roughly 25,000 miles. And SR will have run it all.
Serge Roetheli, what are you writing about?
And while the physical feat is nothing short of awesome, the book is no good. SR seems to be a nice guy, and he wholeheartedly dedicates himself to whatever he does, but that doesn’t help his writing.
He starts out with the story of his own birth and then goes on to tell us about his family background and his education as a boxer and a mountaineer. This isn’t a bad thing, I enjoy reading a bit about what motivates people to do certain things, but SR makes such a big point out of talking about his motivation that he misses what’s really important: to tell a story.
It takes SR literally half of the book (51% – I am reading an ebook, so I am thinking not in page numbers but in percentages) until he finally takes me on the road with him. Everything he has talked about before were general musings about the importance of doing something with one’s life. He has told me the story of running through France and parts of Northern Africa in what felt like 3 paragraphs, and now – finally – he starts creating something like a story. He is in the desert. The sun is blazing. I am reading on, thinking „finally the story is about to start“ – and then it’s over, and SR cuts to the next episode.
why there is no story
What SR does is he gives you a ton of information about why he is doing things. He talks about „normal“ people leading their „normal“ lives a lot. And then he tells you some of the things that happened along his route. There is no room in these episodes to develop a bigger picture or to talk about the quiet moments on the road, the stuff that he might have considered boring. They are just highlights.
To me, reading this book was what I imagine talking to a drunk captain would feel like: he is going to tell you a lot about what he thinks of the world, and then he is going to tell you the most thrilling episodes of his life at sea. You will hear about snake attacks, about sicknesses and about accidents. And when he is done telling you his stories, you will feel perplexed, because there was no storyline to hold them all together, and there was no depth.
I recommend this only for those who are very interested in endurance sports.