- Title Coasting
- Author Elise Downing
- Year 2021
- Genre Memoir
Elise was spending a lot of time crying on buses. She had just graduated from university; she had a shiny new flat, her first proper job and a budding relationship – and they were all making her utterly miserable. Sitting at work one day, she hit upon the obvious solution: Run 5,000 miles around the coast of Britain, carrying her kit on her back. Six months later Elise set off, with absolutely no ultra-running experience, unable to read a map and having never pitched a tent alone before. Over the 301 days that followed she developed a debilitating fear of farmyard animals, cried on a lot of beaches and saw Britain at its most wild and wonderful.
I’m always fascinated by an adventure story, but this was so much more. Elise, the author, and adventurer, plans to run around the coast of Britain, with the typical lack of planning and preparation that often accompanies these grand schemes. And, spoiler alert, that side of things all works out okay. I wasn’t so keen on the staying in many different people’s places - although their generosity must be recognised. And meeting all the different people helped Elise tell the story of her own journey.
This wasn’t just a book about running, in fact the actual adventure started to take a back seat towards the end, as we focused instead on the mental health side of the whole thing - which actually was just as fascinating. Trying to reconcile so many sides of things, the unnecessary guilt, the feeling that you’re not doing it right, even though no one is making any rules but yourself… all those things. You really ride the rollercoaster, and feel the relief and strangeness of getting back home.
Rating: 4 / 5