Trails and Tribulations: The Running Adventures of Susie Chan

Trails and Tribulations: The Running Adventures of Susie Chan

If you are a runner and were on Twitter in the last decade, you’ll know Susie Chan. Susie used to be prolific on the social media platform when it was engaging and the UK running community was a close-knit family.  Reading this book reminds you of those times. Reliving Susie’s races and experiences took me back to those halcyon days of innocence…

Susie Chan is an endurance runner who has completed in some of the world’s toughest ultramarathons and this book is a candid and honest portrayal of her experiences of these.

Throughout this book, Susie opens up about her personal life alongside her running and it is refreshing to read how she deals with all the things that life sent her way. From her personal relationships and health scares, she describes in raw detail and good humour how she overcomes these adversities.

The book begins by laying the foundations for Susie’s adult life, from her work at the British Museum, to her relationship with alcohol and the realisation that her partner had been stealing from her. This all culminates in her biting the bullet and signing up to her first ultramarathon – the famous Marathon Des Sables in Morocco.

Photo courtesy Bloomsbury

Susie’s description of this race is beautifully written, with intricate details not only with the race itself but also the eye-opening and wild behind the scenes atmosphere. There are some great insights into what is required both mentally and physically and the biggest takeaway I got from her recounting of the race is the clear amount of comradeship that flourishes throughout this incredible and arduous endeavour. 

There is a wonderful theme running throughout this book of the creation of relationships and great friendships found and nurtured through Susie’s love of running. There are times when it’s obvious those friendships are the real reason behind some her adventures. This is never more evident than in the chapter recalling the Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence Track Race in Tooting Bec, London and her uncontrollable desire for salty and vinegary Chip Shop chips during what is described as a very lonely and damp 24 hours.

Image courtesy: Bloomsbury

The section of the book that resonated mostly with me, as a running coach, is the chapter about pacing and crewing others. There is a very specific type of person who will selflessly run with, support, and tirelessly manage the physical and mental health of a friend running 100 plus miles for no medal or reward. This is running, not for yourself but for others, and that selflessness shines through the whole book. It is justifiably rewarded when Susie herself requires a whole team of support for her run at the most famous of ultramarathons – Badwater 135. This race is the last retold in the book, and justifiably so. This race is so hot, so hellish, and so difficult it would be difficult to comprehend why anyone would want to put themselves through something like that.

However, you already know that even though Susie has completed these incredible races and lived through so many awe-inspiring experiences that there are many, many more miles left in her and I’m excited to see what the next chapter brings. 

Each and every chapter of this book has the real potential to create true envy in the reader – whether that be adventuring through the jungles of Peru, the Saharan desert or even just a running track in London. Through her colourful and enjoyable retelling of these races and experiences, Susie manages to weave a story that shows her pure joy in all things running. You can clearly see that for her, the running isn’t only just about the physical endurance and achievement, but something more. In each of these races, Susie shows her mental strength, and this seems to be the real reason why she runs, and the real reason why anyone who takes on these monumental challenges, does so.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed following Susie’s adventures, from her lowest race experiences to her highest achievements. If you are ever in the mindset of entering one of these types of huge endeavours, I cannot recommend reading this book enough.

About the author: Oliver Clarke is an England Athletics Qualified Endurance Coach in Running Fitness and has been coaching athletes of all abilities for nearly a decade. He currently coaches online as Swift Run Coaching. He successfully organised a Couch to 5k programme over the last 5 years that has that produced over 200 graduates and also coaches athletes of all abilities including over marathon and ultramarathon distance.

We’re running a fun competition over on Instagram to win a copy of Susie’s book. Head on over to be in with a chance to win!

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Running America by Jamie McDonald
Running America
OUR RATING:
4/5
YOUR RATING:
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"There is a very specific type of person who will selflessly run with, support, and tirelessly manage the physical and mental health of a friend running 100 plus miles for no medal or reward"

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