Book Review by Stein Langlie
I’ve been lucky to review lots of shoes and running gear these past couple years, and I feel particularly fortunate that Sports and Social Change reached out to Believe in the Run to see if we wanted to review The 25,000 Mile Love Story by Serge Rotheli. Once I started reading I could not put the book down and finished it within a week. This is my first book review for BITR but likely not my last!
This autobiographical story by Serge Roetheli is more than a love story between two people. It is a story about the love of life, the need for adventure, and the quest to make a difference in the world. While it’s difficult if not impossible to capture five years of travel by foot in 200 pages, Serge does an admirable job of narrating the high points and low points of an incredibly fantastic journey. Throughout the book, I was reminded of the rewards earned and sacrifices made by Serge and Nicole Roetheli as they circled the globe. While Serge ran, Nicole rode a motorcycle with a trailer.
Over a 63 month time period, the couple averaged a marathon distance every other day. Serge and Nicole’s belongings were sparse and they camped in a small tent almost exclusively. There was no support team, medical support, “Sag wagon” or corporate affiliation. Their sole sponsor pulled out part way through, leaving the Roethelis completely to themselves. Fortunately they found a kindred soul in an Alaskan doctor who was also trying to make a difference for the poorest of the world, who helped to fund some of their travel and basic expenses in a barter arrangement. Amazingly, Serge and Nicole not only finished the journey but also raised over $400,000 for humanitarian aid in Africa, Central America and South America. The entire operation was pulled off through grit and determination.
After becoming an Olympic-level boxer and a professional mountain guide, as well as completing runs across Death Valley, across the Sahara, across the full length of Europe, the Pan American Highway from Argentina to Alaska, as well as many other exploits, running around the world was certainly Serge Roetheli’s crowning feat. In so many ways, Serge proves that you can accomplish anything you put your mind to.
At times philosophical and always entertaining, Serge Roetheli weaves his own history into the story and offers glimpses of his younger self. While never boastful, Serge never misses an opportunity to impress the reader with the magnitude of a 25,000 mile run, all-the-while sprinkling anecdotes and his many lessons learned by way of his many previous adventures. The author also gives Nicole the credit she deserves for sharing the adventure with him, including travel through deserts, war-torn countries, mountains and life-threatening illness.
Other running books I have read recently seem to be proving a point like “my diet is superior” or “I can conquer super-human feats”. This book, however, was refreshing because it never felt pushy or had an agenda (even though the author is undoubtedly one of the worlds most accomplished adventurers). Serge Roetheli did a great job of displaying his candor and love of life through superb story telling, philosophical references and a folksy attitude. The 25,000 Mile Love Story was very inspirational and makes me want to step my game up a couple levels. I believe anyone would enjoy this book, from the non-runner to the endurance athlete and everyone in between.