Life is an Ultramarathon by Dixie Madsen

*I did receive a physical copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.*

    Life begins at 40 is an expression that certainly applies to some people, one of them being Dixie Madesen. This condensed autobiography contains many vignettes from the author’s life from some truly despairing lows to the heights of many remarkable achievements. Life is an Ultramarathon shows how tenacity and always pushing forwards can lead to great things even if they hand you were dealt was pretty rough. Just as an example, Dixie Madsen at 63 years old ran a 135 mile race through Death Valley in the summertime. If you don’t find that impressive I’m not sure what will.

    Now before we get to the good stuff, let’s get some of the critiques out of the way. First of all, sometimes the tone of the narrative could be a little tedious with some repetition and overuse of some quaint sayings. It was as if you were listening to a long story that you didn’t ask for from your grandma, which makes sense Dixie Madsen is a great-grandmother now. Sometimes it worked and was charming, but other times it was just a little tiresome to read. Next was that some of the material was topical rather than chronological making a few things out of order. Overall this wasn’t too bad, except when within a chapter this sometimes happened. Lastly, and this is more just a thought rather than a critique, is that some of the episodes of Dixie Madsen’s life were somewhat glossed over when they seemed important to the rest of the narrative and other episodes were dealt with much more thoroughly. Of course, this may have been on purpose at the author’s discretion since the book is an autobiography.
    On the plus side, Dixie Madsen has a tremendous story. Her childhood was quite rough in the rural western U.S. Not much of a family life to speak of with largely cold parents and many siblings that she did not get along with (with the exception of one brother named Pete.) Running away and foster homes became an normal part of life for her as she became older. After settling down and marrying, Dixie had to raise seven kids at once in her twenties after an unfortunate family fire left her with a handful of nephews. To make matters worse her marriage deteriorated and son. Until her early forties her life essentially was just a series of downturns and difficult situations despite working hard and doing her best for her family. However, she found several joys at similar times at the next stage of her life. These were her soulmate Kendall and her love for fitness. After meeting at a track club, she enjoyed thirty years with the love of her life while also striving for many of her fitness goals. She began to amass many awards and victories in distance running events including marathons and ultramarathons. She also became a serious bodybuilder in her forties and fifties and even won some awards in San Diego for her achievements as well. The transformation of the second half of her life overshadows the rough times in the first half and demonstrates how perseverance through such times can certainly be worth it later on. Her grit and sense of humor definitely show through in her recollections and combined with the love and inspiration from a partner demonstrate what a person can accomplish even if he or she is over the hill.
    Overall Life is an Ultramarathon by Dixie Madsen is a life story that could certainly give encouragement to those who feel that they are stuck in life or going through some hard times and just can’t see what possibly could be in store for them later on. This is especially true for those who are interested in competitive sports, fitness, or running events, though these topics are almost icing on the cake to an already powerful personal story.
    4 out 5 stars.