Extreme Running, by Kym McConnell and Dave Horsley

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The Independent Culture

Vowing to exercise more is a popular new year's resolution, but it is unlikely many will contemplate taking it as far as the races detailed in this book. The London Marathon too tame for you? Try the North Pole Marathon, run in temperatures as low as 40C across shifting pack ice. Too cold, and too short? Then attempt the Badwater Ultramarathon. It's a stroll in the park; a 217km stroll through Death Valley National Park, that is, in up to 55C of heat.

The authors, experienced ultra-runners themselves, have selected 24 extreme events on all seven continents, and the comprehensive route information, maps and contact details, plus sumptuous photography, make for an impressive package, marred only by some sloppy proofreading (the Athens-to-Sparta record-holder, for instance, is variously described as Kouros or Kourus). And if the weather and rail service here get any worse, entrants for the North Pole event will be able to get in some useful practice just going to work.

Published by Pavilion in large-format hardback, 20