Spirit Run: A 6,000-Mile Marathon Through North America's Stolen Land by Noé Álvarez

Spirit Run: A 6,000-Mile Marathon Through North America's Stolen Land

Noé Álvarez

nonfiction Memoir Travel
adventurous emotional reflective medium-paced

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The electrifying debut memoir of a son of working-class Mexican immigrants who fled a life of labor in fruit-packing plants to run in an Indigenous marathon from Canada to Guatemala, reimagining North America and his place in it.

Growing up in Yakima, Washington, Noé Álvarez worked at an apple-packing plant alongside his mother, who “slouched over a conveyor belt of fruit, shoulder to shoulder with mothers conditioned to believe this was all they could do with their lives.” A university scholarship offered escape, but as a first-generation Latino college-goer, Álvarez struggled to fit in.

At nineteen, he learned about a Native American/First Nations movement called the Peace and Dignity Journeys, epic marathons meant to renew cultural connections across North America. He dropped out of school and joined a group of Dené, Secwépemc, Gitxsan, Dakelh, Apache, Tohono O’odham, Seri, Purépecha, and Maya runners, all fleeing difficult beginnings. Telling their stories alongside his own, Álvarez writes about a four-month-long journey from Canada to Guatemala that pushed him to his limits. He writes not only of overcoming hunger, thirst, and fear―dangers included stone-throwing motorists and a mountain lion―but also of asserting Indigenous and working-class humanity in a capitalist society where oil extraction, deforestation, and substance abuse wreck communities.

Running through mountains, deserts, and cities, and through the Mexican territory his parents left behind, Álvarez forges a new relationship with the land, and with the act of running, carrying with him the knowledge of his parents’ migration, and―against all odds in a society that exploits his body and rejects his spirit―the dream of a liberated future.

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Moods

reflective 85%
adventurous 57%
emotional 42%
inspiring 42%
hopeful 28%
tense 28%
challenging 14%
informative 14%

Pace

medium 62%
fast 37%

Average rating

3.5
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