To someone who doesn’t run, the behaviors of runners might be a little odd. From the different gaits to the strange “goo” they consume from a pouch to costumes to putting Band-Aids in rather precarious places … it’s all just a little different if you stop to think about it, right? Like, if aliens came down right now, what the heck would they think when they spot a couple thousand people dressed in tutus to run a 5K?
And that’s pretty much the hilarious concept of the new book Runners of North America: A Definitive Guide to the Species by Mark Remy. Over 20 years ago, Mark Remy became a “runner anthropologist” to understand these strange creatures (for purely research purposes, of course). He started living among runners, gradually earning their trust and “becoming” one of them. He trained, dressed, talked, ate and drank like runners, and even socialized with and dated runners. To prove his loyalty, Remy went so far as to run distances ranging from 5K to marathons.
And this book includes everything he learned. It’s a playful, user-friendly guide to understanding this brightly clad species and their quirky behavior. With chapters like “The 23 Subspecies of Runners” and “Social Behavior and Mating Habits,” Runners of North America examines and explains the lives of runners from every possible angle, while delivering plenty of laughs along the way. We know we certainly cracked up reading it.
So much so that we asked to run an excerpt from the book, so that you could crack up along with us.
A Hilarious Q&A on the Physiology of Runners
Runners come in all shapes and sizes. This chapter is intended to provide a general overview of characteristics shared by all, or at least most, runners. Let’s begin with a few basic questions and answers.
What kind of animal is the runner?
Runners are mammals, meaning they have warm blood and nurse their young, though not while running. Males are typically larger than females. And more sensitive to pain.
So runners are covered in hair or fur?
Yes. For males, this can make removing Band-Aids from the nipples problematic. It also can present problems in very warm weather — as temperatures rise, the hairier the male the hotter it feels. Very hairy male runners are therefore the ones most likely to remove their shirts. They are also the males that you least want to see shirtless.
Do runners “shed”?
In a manner of speaking, yes. Once or more per year — depending on the subspecies and amount of disposable income — runners will molt, discarding their old running shoes and replacing them with new ones.
Do runners carry their offspring with them while running?
Many do. Once their babies have developed necks strong enough to support their heads and skin thick enough to endure taunts such as “Run, Forrest, run!” from total strangers, runners may take them along for runs in wheeled devices called “jogging strollers.”
Are all runners deaf?
No. This is a myth. It is true, however, that many runners over the past 15 years or so have sprouted small growths, or “buds,” in or around their earlobes. These nodules make it difficult for them to hear, so you may have to shout to get their attention, warn them of danger, etc.
How have runners adapted to very cold climates?
Runners have evolved to puff themselves up in cold weather, adding layers to protect against the chill. Typically these layers are made of merino wool or synthetic materials designed to block wind and water while allowing moisture to escape.
Are runners, on average, stronger than humans?
No. Just more stubborn.
Any other “species” you’d like to see a Q&A on? I think CrossFitters would be another hilarious one. From lingo to tall socks, there’s so much to have fun with. —Jenn
Reprinted from Runners of North America by Mark Remy. Copyright (c) 2016 by Mark Remy. By permission of Rodale Books. Available wherever books are sold.