Jim Gourley’s ‘The Race Within’ book review

An excellent tome that delves into the 30+ year history of the Ultraman Triathlon

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Jim Gourley’s ‘The Race Within’ book review


A few years ago we crewed at a double ultra event in Germany. The event was memorable for its camaraderie, athletic feats and just how many sacrifices had been made in order to compete. 

These themes are ever-present in Jim Gourley’s excellent new book (serialised in our May 2015 issue), which focuses on the 30+ year history of the Ultraman Triathlon: an invitation-only 10km swim/420km bike/84km run three-day event that takes place every Thanksgiving weekend in Hawaii, over a month after the tri world gazes at the Ironman World Championships, also on the Big Island. 

As he did in his previous tome, ‘Faster: Demystifying the Science of Triathlon Speed’, Gourley has evidently done the research over the content-dense 306 pages, interviewing countless athletes and organisers, the vast majority of whom emerge as unsung heroes of multisport, doing it for the love of endurance racing, often shelling out thousands of dollars just to race. 

Ultraman Triathlon swimmer off the coast of Kona, Hawaii

Ultraman swimmer off the coast of Kona, Hawaii (photo: Rick Kent)

Ultra legends like Cory Foulk make appearances, as do the organisers who rage against the (corporate) machine in attempting to keep the event as close to its ‘aloha’ (love), ‘ohana’ (family), and ‘kokua’ (help) roots as possible.

Overall, a couple of niggles aside (we would’ve liked an index and it can sometimes feel a touch impenetrable), there’s much to recommend here. 

Verdict: Another well-researched effort from the American author, 85%


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