Failure is an Option

On the trail of the world’s toughest mountain race

Author: Matt Whyman

Series title:

Paperback publication date: 14 Apr 2022

Paperback ISBN: 9781839811333

‘What an absolute JOY! – perfectly captures the folly and ambition of this silly and wonderful sport.’ – Vassos Alexander

Failure is an Option is the story of an average runner who sets out to discover just how far he can go. Matt Whyman leaves behind the Saturday morning 5K to push towards 100-mile ultramarathons and beyond. The results are entertaining from start to finish, often very funny and at times deeply moving. 

‘We’re not at parkrun any more,’ I mutter to myself, quietly longing for the presence of nice marshals in high-visibility vests.

Failure is an Option is the story of an average runner who sets out to discover just how far he can go. With the support (and misgivings) of his family, and aware that his quickest years are behind him, Matt Whyman leaves the Saturday morning 5K to push towards 100-mile ultramarathons and beyond. By slowing things down to run a very long way, he joins a growing number of men and women from all walks of life striving to do something extraordinary.

A newcomer to a world that can often seem off-limits, Matt finds his feet as an ultrarunner by learning the hard way. He battles monster hallucinations on endurance races spanning day and night, loses himself on tantalising trails across landscapes far from home, and forges bonds with fellow competitors in which small, kind gestures mean more than any medal. Determined to touch the boundaries of his running world before it starts to shrink, ultimately Matt sets his sights on a six-day mountain ultra that even hardened veterans consider to be the most formidable on earth: the Dragon’s Back Race.

Brimming with good humour, honesty and joy, Failure is an Option pits ambition against ability to uncover human truths that resonate with us all. A mid-pack competitor who could win prizes for enthusiasm – if nothing else – Matt takes us on a journey far beyond his comfort zone and with no guaranteed outcome of success. The results are entertaining from start to finish, often very funny and at times deeply moving.

Matt Whyman is a bestselling author of twenty-two books including Walking With Sausage Dogs, The Unexpected Genius of Pigs and Our Planet – with a foreword by Sir David Attenborough. He has collaborated on many popular sporting and motivational books, such as Age is Just a Numberby Charles Eugster – who took up sprinting aged ninety-five to become a world-record-breaking track athlete – and Anything is Possible by Gareth Southgate. As well as his passion for running, which he found as a boy seeking to spend time with his dad, Matt is a respected landscape artist whose paintings sell widely. He is married with four children and lives in West Sussex.

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