Books Fat Man to Green Man

Published on January 28, 2014

Fat Man to Green Man

Reading books on the near-superhuman efforts of the likes of ultra-running legend Dean Karnazes or the historical exploits of Chariots of Fire hero Harold Abrahams (our review here) can be at once both inspirational and distancing. How could we mere mortals ever hope to emulate these incredible athletes? Meanwhile Fat Man to Green Man – subtitled From Unfit to Ultramarathon, to really spell it out – may give hope to us all.

Bristol-based Ira Rainey was, by his own admission, an ‘overweight and unfit slacker who felt a bit sorry for himself because he had sore feet’ but a combination of a friend’s terminal illness and a recommendation to check out the writing of Karnazes changed all that. Fat Man to Green Man follows Rainey’s journey as he piles on the miles and throws off the lethargy to tackle both the Green Man Ultra – a 46 (some say 47mile) ultra course following the Community Forest Path around the city of Bristol – and the Bath Half Marathon across a single weekend.

Rainey’s writing style appears to chime well with his running style; both are laid-back and casual (despite the trail miles required) and there is a gentle humour to the book that lifts it considerably. The beauty really is the ease of empathy here – Rainey’s endeavour to run that first ultra (and RunningMonkey certainly isn’t knocking the considerable effort) feels achievable and probably isn’t beyond any reader who really sets their mind to it. In fact, fundamentally, Fat Man to Green Man is really all about setting your mind to it.

At 192 pages Fat Man to Green Man isn’t the longest of reads, but then this isn’t the most complex of stories and Rainey is, we feel, to be commended for the brevity when so many books bulk out with pure puff. Gentle, amusing and genuinely inspirational in turns, Fat Man to Green Man should be read by anyone who ever thought ‘ I wonder if I could…’

Fat Man to Green Man: From Unfit to Ultramarathon (ISBN-10: 191008901X) by Ira Rainey is published by Tangent Books. Paperback RRP £9.99, current Kindle price £3.99 from

Get inspire by Dean Karnazes too – read our review of Ultramarathon Man here.

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