Running for My Life: One Lost Boy's Journey from the Killing Fields of Sudan to the Olympic Games Info

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Running for My Life is not a story about Africa or
track and field athletics. It is about outrunning the devil and
achieving the impossible faith, diligence, and the desire to give back.
It is the American dream come true and a stark reminder that saving one
can help to save thousands more.

Lopez Lomong chronicles his
inspiring ascent from a barefoot lost boy of the Sudanese Civil War to a
Nike sponsored athlete on the US Olympic Team. Though most of us fall
somewhere between the catastrophic lows and dizzying highs of Lomong's
incredible life, every reader will find in his story the human spark to
pursue dreams that might seem unthinkable, even from circumstances that
might appear hopeless.

"Lopez Lomong's story is one of true
inspiration. His life is a story of courage, hard work, never giving up,
and having hope where there is hopelessness all around. Lopez is a true
role model." ?MICHAEL JOHNSON, Olympic Gold
Medalist

"This true story of a Sudanese child refugee who
became an Olympic star is powerful proof that God gives hope to the
hopeless and shines a light in the darkest places. Don't be surprised if
after reading this incredible tale, you find yourself mysteriously
drawn to run alongside him." ?RICHARD STEARNS, president, World
Vision US and author of THe Hole in Our
Gospel


Average Ratings and Reviews
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Reviews for Running for My Life: One Lost Boy's Journey from the Killing Fields of Sudan to the Olympic Games:

5

Oct 05, 2016

This is the inspiring story of one of the " Lost Boys" Lopez Lomong from South Sudan, who was abducted by brutal rebel soldiers at age six and miraculously escaped by running 3 days through the desert with the help of older boys to a Kenyan refugee camp. Ten years later, after living in conditions where eating scraps from a dumpster was a luxury, he is flown to New York where a new family will adopt him and help him overcome the culture shock ( to put it much too mildly) of coming to America, This is the inspiring story of one of the " Lost Boys" Lopez Lomong from South Sudan, who was abducted by brutal rebel soldiers at age six and miraculously escaped by running 3 days through the desert with the help of older boys to a Kenyan refugee camp. Ten years later, after living in conditions where eating scraps from a dumpster was a luxury, he is flown to New York where a new family will adopt him and help him overcome the culture shock ( to put it much too mildly) of coming to America, and with very hard work, and great dedication , become a US Olympic track star ( 2008 , 2012) and great humanitarian. Some folks are critical of books like this and deem them under-literary, but what this one may lack in lengthy words and flowery prose, it makes up with heart, faith, and Lomong's strong will to not merely overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles but to help others do so as well. A reminder to be perhaps a little more charitable, less selfish, and certainly much more grateful. A book to read if you wish to believe there are still heroes who walk among us. 5 stars ...more
4

Jan 04, 2013

This is one of those books that makes you grateful for every little tiny thing in your life. Like indoor plumbing, more than one meal a day, and not viewing the day you get to dig in the trash for your meals as the highlight of your week (I only wish this were a joke).

This is the memoir of a "Lost Boy of Sudan", who gets kidnapped by rebels at the age of 6 and escapes from his prison with 3 other boys. They run for 12 hours at a time, 3 days straight to reach the safety of a refugee camp in This is one of those books that makes you grateful for every little tiny thing in your life. Like indoor plumbing, more than one meal a day, and not viewing the day you get to dig in the trash for your meals as the highlight of your week (I only wish this were a joke).

This is the memoir of a "Lost Boy of Sudan", who gets kidnapped by rebels at the age of 6 and escapes from his prison with 3 other boys. They run for 12 hours at a time, 3 days straight to reach the safety of a refugee camp in Kenya. One day he has the unusual opportunity to watch the 2000 Olympics on someone's car-battery-operated television, and watches the American Michael Johnson win an Olympic race. This sticks in his head, and through a series of improbable events (and his amazing natural running talent) he ends up running in the Olympics for the USA (and being the flag-bearer!) in 2008. Truly an astounding, amazing story.

Apparently, many boys in this refugee camp ran the entire perimeter of the camp (30km - 18 miles!!) every single day--as a WARM-UP to their soccer game. A warm-up. And boys were shunned who didn't do it, so it was like a peer pressure thing. I am fascinated by how ingrained into African culture running is. A lot of it is because children must run to school and back every day, and the schools are not close by. This may be the root of it, but running is clearly built into everyday life in a way that is rare in other cultures.

I kept having such flashbacks to Dave Eggers' "What is the What" while I was reading the Africa parts of this book. That book is also the story of a Lost Boy of Sudan, and I believe they even end up in the same refugee camp. Eeriely similar stories (except for the Olympic stuff), but both are very gripping.

I found the writing in this book much more simplistic (of course... since Eggers is a powerhouse writer, and I'm not sure if anybody really ghostwrote this one or if it is truly in Lomong's own words). But the story of how he goes from refugee camp to Olympic athlete is truly stranger than fiction. ...more
3

Jul 15, 2012

I've been torn, when reviewing biographies as to whether my review should primarily critique the literary qualities of the work, or whether it's kosher to share my approval or disapproval of the life of the individual being studied.

As I'm left to my own devices in reviewing Running for My Life, it will largely be a life-review, and less, a book-review. As books go, the writing style is what you might expect from a 2012 autobiography produced by a major publisher: expert, engaging, and easy to I've been torn, when reviewing biographies as to whether my review should primarily critique the literary qualities of the work, or whether it's kosher to share my approval or disapproval of the life of the individual being studied.

As I'm left to my own devices in reviewing Running for My Life, it will largely be a life-review, and less, a book-review. As books go, the writing style is what you might expect from a 2012 autobiography produced by a major publisher: expert, engaging, and easy to read, but not necessarily a literary masterpiece.

The item of greater interest to me in my review is the main character Lopez Lomong, and the outworking of his faith both in his persecuted home country of South Sudan, and his new home in America.

Lomong skillfully tells the gripping story of his kidnap from his mother's arms during a Sunday morning church service. He goes on to tell how he managed to escape his captors, was adopted by American parents and found success as an Olympic athlete. The consistent credit he gives to God for orchestrating his escapes and victories at every point along the way is refreshing.

My main disappointment with his story is with the portrayal of his Christian faith as being on one hand very generic and other the other, syncretistic (melding in non-Christian elements).

I found myself surprised as Lomong described several superstitious practices (rituals & animal sacrifices) used by his home church in Sudan to bestow blessing or to dispel evil spirits. While Lomong expressed his own versions of surprise and disgust with these practices, he never described any concern for their legitimacy as Christian practices. This was an initial red-flag for me that led me to further analyze the way Christianity was portrayed in Running for My Life.

Another item I found disquieting was the fact that Lomong speaks often of his belief in God, but never of the person of Jesus Christ. Also, while it was fun to read about Lomong's welcome into a very friendly place called middle-class America, it would have been even more gratifying to see him welcomed with open arms by the American church. Nowhere in his story do we get to see him become part of an American Christian fellowship, or make any American Christian friends.

It sounds a little silly for me to critique a biography because I think something's missing in the story (as if it were a just a plot element in a work of fiction that the author could add in). "P.S. Insert Christian fellowship here. Fondly, Your Editor." But, on the other hand, I do wish for Lopez Lomong that he might find in America, not just the "American Dream," but also God at work here too, in the person of Jesus Christ, and through the lives of fellow believers surrounding and encouraging him.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

--Jen ...more
5

Jun 11, 2012

Have you seen the Visa Olympic commercial that talks about the boy who ran for 3 days? "Running for My Life" (out 7/17/12) is the true story of Lopez Lomong, a Sudanese "Lost Boy" taken from his family by rebels when he was six. With the help of 3 older boys, he escaped the rebel camp in the middle of the night and ran for 3 days to safety. In the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Lopez was our country's flag bearer in the opening ceremony & a member of the US Olympic track team. The years between 1991 Have you seen the Visa Olympic commercial that talks about the boy who ran for 3 days? "Running for My Life" (out 7/17/12) is the true story of Lopez Lomong, a Sudanese "Lost Boy" taken from his family by rebels when he was six. With the help of 3 older boys, he escaped the rebel camp in the middle of the night and ran for 3 days to safety. In the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Lopez was our country's flag bearer in the opening ceremony & a member of the US Olympic track team. The years between 1991 & 2008 were years of tragedy and triumph. Throughout the sorrow and joy, his faith in God remained unchanged. I was blessed to get an advance copy and once I started reading, I couldn't put it down. All I could do was thank God for all I have and say a prayer for all those who don't have enough food, shelter, clean water, and faith. Read this book when it releases and then recommend it to a friend. ...more
4

Aug 19, 2014

This is the book to read whenever you feel discouraged or overwhelmed in your own life because it's impossible to read Lomong's story and not feel inspired by him and his incredible courage and faith. Kidnapped by rebels at six years of age while attending church with his family in a little village in Sudan, Lomong's true story begins with devastating loss and heartbreak. Even so, the story that follows is one of incredible perseverance, hard-work, gratitude and love. I don't want to give too This is the book to read whenever you feel discouraged or overwhelmed in your own life because it's impossible to read Lomong's story and not feel inspired by him and his incredible courage and faith. Kidnapped by rebels at six years of age while attending church with his family in a little village in Sudan, Lomong's true story begins with devastating loss and heartbreak. Even so, the story that follows is one of incredible perseverance, hard-work, gratitude and love. I don't want to give too much of the story away, so I will just say-- go read it. You won't be sorry you did, and you are likely to come away feeling more gratitude to God for all the blessings in your life and a desire to do more for people in the world who find themselves in desperate situations. ...more
5

May 09, 2015

I read this book in one day. I couldn’t put it down. Like Dave Eggers' What is the What, this is the story one of the Lost Boys of the Sudan. Eggars writing prowess makes What is the What an almost epic experience, but Lomong’s narrative is just as compelling. Lomong, clearly, sees the hand of God at work in his life. His testimony is encouraging and inspirational. Lomong’s story of overcoming adversity is a must read for any Christian.
5

Jul 22, 2019

Wow. I planned on reading a chapter or two and read this entire book in one sitting. Lopez’s story is incredible, and this is one of my new favorite books.
4

Nov 08, 2013

I loved it,and not for style or literary value, but for the story itself, for this guy's life journey. This is a great motivational book, I'll remember his story when I start bitching about my petty nuisances. There is also hope and there is always a way. Just be patient and go on. If only we could be thankful every second of our lives for all that we have...
3

Feb 17, 2014

This is one of those books that you read, not because it's beautifully written, but because the story is so compelling.
5

Sep 08, 2016

LOVED this book. Following Lomong's journey from being abducted by soldiers as a young boy to escaping, living in a refuge camp, coming to America, and eventually qualifying for the Olympics, I was SO inspired. It also reminded me how ridiculously blessed I am and how fortunate I am to be able to give to others out of my abundance. Lomong's story is evidence that nothing is impossible with God. His determination to never give up, the support and love of his family (biological and adopted) and LOVED this book. Following Lomong's journey from being abducted by soldiers as a young boy to escaping, living in a refuge camp, coming to America, and eventually qualifying for the Olympics, I was SO inspired. It also reminded me how ridiculously blessed I am and how fortunate I am to be able to give to others out of my abundance. Lomong's story is evidence that nothing is impossible with God. His determination to never give up, the support and love of his family (biological and adopted) and friends and coaches and teachers, and his faith all helped to create a life story that no one could have imagined for him as a child. Plus, RUNNING, so yeah, I loved it! ...more
5

Jul 17, 2012

Running for My Life by Lopez Lomong (with Mark Tabb) first caught my attention when I saw the commercial advertising the Olympics. “What an amazing hint of a story!”, I remember saying. I wanted to learn more about him. Was he a Christian?

Lopez Lomong was kidnapped at six years old by rebel fighters in South Sudan while attending church with his family. He inferred that between the South Sudan government and the rebels, the line between good guys and bad guys were barely discernable. In one Running for My Life by Lopez Lomong (with Mark Tabb) first caught my attention when I saw the commercial advertising the Olympics. “What an amazing hint of a story!”, I remember saying. I wanted to learn more about him. Was he a Christian?

Lopez Lomong was kidnapped at six years old by rebel fighters in South Sudan while attending church with his family. He inferred that between the South Sudan government and the rebels, the line between good guys and bad guys were barely discernable. In one chapter, Lopez recalls a conversation he had with some boys while they were imprisoned. The boys questioned amongst themselves if these were the rebels, why were they being kidnapped? Weren’t they on their side?

Three “angels,” boys older than Lopez from his village protected him and one night escaped with him. They ran through the desert of Africa for three days with bloody feet all the way to the border. What was amazing was how God provided water and food along the way, and not from any human source, but from the abundance growing in the wilds. They ran all the way to Kenya where Kenyan soldiers picked them up and brought them to a Kenyan refugee camp.

There, the boys had a little better care, but not by much. While United Nations workers ate well, the refugees in the camp were on food rations. Larger boys would troll the tents, bullying other boys to give them their food rations so the older boys could sell them outside the camp. Lopez and the boys with him in his tent cleverly hid their food. The biggest excitement at their camp was soccer and garbage day.

Garbage day came when the squeak-squeak of the wheel borrow would come, dumping the U.N. garbage into a hole. A lot of boys would dive into the melee looking for half-eaten food to salvage for their tent. I liked what Lopez said about this:

“We only ate one meal a day, but for me, coming into the camp at the age of six, I accepted this as normal. I never thought that life was unfair because I had to eat garbage. Instead, I looked at the scraps of food from the dump as a blessing. Not all the boys in the camp could do this. I knew some who chose to feel sorry for themselves, who complained constantly about their lot in life. What is the point of such complaining? After all the whining and complaining is over, you still live in a refugee camp. All the complaining in the world will not make your life any better. Instead, you must choose to make the best of whatever the situation in which you find yourself, even in a place like Kakuma.” (Page 39)

There was such poverty in Africa. Lopez recounted humorous memories of when he arrived in America for the first time. He said he used to think white people were white because of the cold climate in which they lived. Lopez also did not know how to turn a light off or on. He said yes to everything because he didn’t want to offend his new parents. Lopez thought he didn’t deserve the kindness and love his foster parents gave in America. America was such a new experience for him.

But what really got me was how proud he was of our country. His team mates on the Olympian Team voted for him to be the flag bearer in the Beijing Olympics. He met President Bush and First Lady, Laura. He was proud of his country and in many ways you could liken him to the Olympian, Jesse Owens who in the 1936 Olympic games was sent to compete against Germany. Lopez went against China who supported the bad guys in South Sudan like Germany supported the antics of Hitler.

For anyone who is losing a house to foreclosure, bemoaning that they can’t pay their bills, or can’t own the television their neighbor was able to buy, they should read this book. This is the story of a South Sudan Lost Boy who came to America and wanted to work hard. He didn’t take advantage of her or burn her flag or demand special treatment. Lopez Lomong models what America should be and how hard work, love, and determination can help make any dream a reality. After reading this book, I believe God wanted Lopez to tell his story. His story has God’s fingerprints all over it. I gave it five stars.

All proceeds from Running For My Life are going to the Lomong Foundation’s “4 South Sudan.” Together Lopez and World Vision are working to bring the needs of South Sudan to fruition.

*Book given by publisher to review. ...more
5

Sep 12, 2017

The beginning of this book was so heart-wrenching and hit so close to home as Lopez was about the same age as my boys when he was kidnapped that I didn't think I could get through it. But I am so glad I pushed through. There is so much joy and hope within as well. His adoptive parents are absolutely amazing human beings. What a lucky boy. I think in huge part his success is owed to them. A truly inspiring story.
4

Jul 06, 2018

Wow! Read this in about 48 hours. Amazing story of a lost boy of Sudan who survived being taken (from church!) by rebel soldiers when he was 6 and went on to compete in the Olympics. No spoiler alert because there are so many incredible details between those two events. I deeply appreciated the many ways he overcame his circumstances; I also appreciated seeing his character and his attitude throughout the ordeal(s). Inspiring is too weak a word.
5

Jul 09, 2017

Loved this book. Such an amazing insight into his life and what others live like.
5

Nov 17, 2018

Did you forget that the USA is the best country on Earth? If so, you need to read this book. Yep, we have problems, but America is still the best place on Earth for someone to realize their dreams.
5

Sep 20, 2018

This is my favorite book I read this year! I absolutely loved listening to it read by Lopez. It is a MUST read!
5

Nov 20, 2019

Inspiring. Found out I am a bit jaded waiting for a twist. It was pure and made me step into gratitude.
5

Sep 11, 2019

Wish I would have known his story back when I watched him race my teammates in college. I remember he was always super polite and respectful. God definitely had a plan for his life and continues to use Lopez to bring hope to so many others.
4

Dec 31, 2018

Really liked it- what an incredible guy! Loved to see how Lopez went through so much and how he can look back and attribute it all to God and understand why he went through the things that he did
5

Dec 13, 2017

This is one of the best books I've read recently. It's quick, engaging, and so inspiring. Lopez Lomong now counts me as one of his fans, and I am also in love with his parents who opened their homes to him and other Sudanese Lost Boys. This would be a fantastic book for youth to read too. I loved the themes of family, friendship, faith, hard work, hope, etc. Really great!
5

Nov 24, 2017

A riveting story about a refugee’s journey both on and off the track. It was eye opening to read of the struggles that a refugee faces. A fast read that was difficult to put down, and very timely for the time of year that we reflect on what we are grateful for and the season of giving.
5

Sep 29, 2017

Two days after beginning this book, I finished it. I loved this book for so many reasons! This may seem strange, but I loved how short and to the point it was. I loved his acknowledgment of the many miracles and blessings he received from God. I loved his patriotism. I loved his emphasis on the value of education. I finished this book with the desire to do more to help other people. What an uplifting and inspiring story!
4

Jun 02, 2019

Super engaging story of fleeing Sudan and surviving. I love the incorporation of God and the goodness of people in this story. It's heartbreaking to have just this tiny taste of what was and is going on in Sudan. I have a deep respect for those people who took in the lost boys of Sudan and gave them a home and family in America.
4

Feb 01, 2018

This was an excellent open your eyeballs and see how fortunate you are kind of book. I loved his attitude and perseverance and appreciation and work ethic. It just makes you wonder if there is something defective about Americans and other first world-ers that we have to gripe and moan about everything. Oh yeah. There is. Entitlement. And keeping up with the joneses...I wish we could all smile so easily. And get along. And contribute. And take pride in whatever task or job we have. And have a This was an excellent open your eyeballs and see how fortunate you are kind of book. I loved his attitude and perseverance and appreciation and work ethic. It just makes you wonder if there is something defective about Americans and other first world-ers that we have to gripe and moan about everything. Oh yeah. There is. Entitlement. And keeping up with the joneses...I wish we could all smile so easily. And get along. And contribute. And take pride in whatever task or job we have. And have a sense of patriotism. This country could do with a lot more big dreamers. ...more
5

Sep 08, 2017

Oh my. I normally can't read these kinds of books because they destroy me. I can't remember how this book ended up in my To-Read pile, but there it was. And maybe because choosing the first book of the year is so important for me to set a high standard for my students, or maybe because so many of my students were being brave with their first choice that I chose this one. I am forever changed by my choice.

Lopez Lomong is not the only Lost Boy who was once lost and found, nor is he the only Lost Oh my. I normally can't read these kinds of books because they destroy me. I can't remember how this book ended up in my To-Read pile, but there it was. And maybe because choosing the first book of the year is so important for me to set a high standard for my students, or maybe because so many of my students were being brave with their first choice that I chose this one. I am forever changed by my choice.

Lopez Lomong is not the only Lost Boy who was once lost and found, nor is he the only Lost Boy to write about it. He did, however, manage to capture the joy and love for this this country, and for the incredible educational opportunities we provide children of all races.

Rob and Barbara Rogers took him into their home and gave him life. They saved him. And I am humbled by "knowing" them. Lopepe's story is inspirational and motivating and uplifting and just plain tear-jerking. But it is his love and admiration for his education that will stay with me forever. ...more

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