Toby Tanser's memoir chronicles his quest for purpose when he first arrived in Kenya in the 1990s. The book is an incredible adventure, a tapestry of both triumphs and tragedies, but ultimately a captivating and inspiring true story. At the book's core lies an audacious undertaking—the construction of East & Central Africa's inaugural public children's hospital, an endeavor heralded by none other than the esteemed Steven Spielberg as "God's work."
Remarkably, Toby's unyielding determination remains unshaken despite enduring a series of harrowing trials. From enduring machete attacks and poisonings to being struck by a reckless speeding car, pelted with stones, and even subjected to a brutal baseball bat assault, Toby steadfastly refuses to relinquish what he perceives as his life's purpose. Sanjay Gupta, the respected correspondent of CNN, astutely notes, "although he almost died, it was a chance for Toby to find his calling."
The book begins in England and takes readers on a thrilling journey to Iceland, Sweden, Kenya, and finally, America. Toby's pilgrimage demonstrates gritty endurance and how a single unpaid volunteer can make a difference in the lives of well over a million children by establishing and running a shoestring charitable organization.
If you're feeling stuck at a crossroads in your life or seeking a push to transform your life, this book provides motivation, vitality, and direction. Robert Zoellick, former President of the World Bank, says, "Toby's passion and commitment to helping Africa's children is infectious." Pick up this book and let it inspire you to pursue your own destined path.
“You hear stories of people who are mugged, not with a knife and a machete and a baseball bat, and not even injured very much, and all they’ll tell you is how you should never go back there it’s a dangerous place they’ll never go back. Not only does the guy go back, he takes the thing that they were robbing him for and decides to give them to the community—I mean his brain’s wired differently than most people.” Ali Velshi, NBC Television.
“An unforgettable story from an unforgettable storyteller. Toby wanted to be an elite runner and seemingly had the talent and motivation. Yet on a trip to Kenya, he almost loses his life, amazingly recovers and goes on to change the lives of tens of thousands of people. When you finish this book, you will feel that every one of us can do more to help our fellow human beings. Truly inspiring!” George Hirsch, Chairman NYC Marathon, founding publisher New York magazine.
“I became a member of a team running for a charity called Shoe4Africa. I assume you have never heard of them. I know I hadn’t. Shoe4africa, founded by a former elite runner and a fascinating guy named Toby Tanser, works to improve the lives of impoverished people in Africa. Read Toby’s story and the consequent origin of the charities name. As a teaser, the story involves a machete—as, I assume, all the names of charities do.” Joel Cohen, The Simpson’s Emmy Winning scriptwriter, and author of the wonderful book, How to Lose a Marathon.
“You choose fun stories to tell, then you tell them in an offhand, carefree way. It’s very unusual. You write poetic prose.” Jeff Johnson, NIKE's first ever employee.
"I really enjoyed the book, it’s an absolutely incredible story! Never a dull moment." Andy Dixon, Editor-in-Chief, Runner's World UK.
"I am Ronaldo... I am with Shoe4Africa." Cristiano Ronaldo.
“I commend you for Shoe4Africa’s efforts to fight poverty. I also want to thank you for incorporating HIV/AIDS education into your program.” USA former President, Bill Clinton.
“You are making a fine contribution to the development of sport in Africa.” Sir Roger Bannister, first sub four-minute mile.
“I am informed of the sacrifice you made to fund raise to build this facility. On behalf of the Government, I can not thank you enough for your contribution and unwavering support.” The President of Kenya, Hon. William Sameoi Ruto.
“It is admirable work you are doing embracing the poor and needy of Kenya. Keep it up.” The President of Kenya, 1978-2002, Hon. Daniel Arap Moi.
“Thank you Toby Tanser for giving your support to the children of Africa, I can only express my gratitude to you and to all who support you in this life-saving endeavor that is giving our children a better chance of survival. Bless you.” Edna Adan, Former First lady of Somalia, and founder of the Edna Adan Maternity Hospital. Author of the book, ‘A Woman of Firsts.’
“We are honoured to work with and help in some small way Shoe4Africa in the amazing and vitally important work that they do.” Paula Radcliffe and Gary Lough.
"This book was just such a treat I really can't recommend it more wholeheartedly." Stacy Creamer, VP Audible.
"Thank you for what you are doing to human community, from schools to Shoe4Africa Hospital. I wish you all the best as you build a cancer hospital. "Together we can make this world a running world." Keep Running." Eliud Kipchoge, world record men's marathon, Shoe4Africa Ambassador since 2015.
"God bless you for coming back to Africa to build a hospital for the people who tried to kill you."
Priscilla Sitenei, World's Oldest primary school pupil, aged 99-years old.
“SHOE4AFRICA has become a powerful agent for change.” NTV (Kenyan National Television).
“Toby has done a lot more for a lot of people in his life than most folk would even attempt to do in a lifetime.” Liz McColgan, World Champion, Athletics.
"You are doing incredible work." Philip H. Knight. Nike founder.
“I thought Toby’s run was amazing. It has never been done, and he’s not doing it to be the best or to just do something, he is doing it for charity, to help other people.” Sir Mo Farah, four-time Olympic champion, six-time world champion.
"All the best for the run you are doing from Mombasa to the top of Kilimanjaro. Thank you most sincerely for giving up so much of your time during (my) trip to New York." Prince Harry.
"Prince Harry sends you his very best wishes. He really enjoyed his time with you. The Prince commends the work you are doing in Kenya." Private secretary to the Royal Prince.
"Some people can change the face of a continent. Toby Tanser is one of them. His book is one of the most profound and action packed that I've ever read. I was just absorbed on every page. I have to say it is one of the best books I've ever read, and I really mean it. And I've read books for hundreds of shows over the years, so I know when I am reading a great one." Peter Roth. Radio show host. Energystew podcast.
"Throughout my life God has blessed me with the gift of connecting with incredibly fascinating people who inspire me. Toby Tanser is without a doubt one of the most fascinating people on the planet. Our lives had so many intersecting points before we ever met six years ago that it was inevitable we would become friends. We both loved running, operated nonprofits to supply shoes for those in need and shared a love for the people of Kenya. I would encourage you to read his book, “Running with Destiny” about an extraordinary man who created in Eldoret, Kenya the most amazing pediatric hospital you will find anywhere. In a world that seems more broken than ever, I hope each of you seek out the fascinating dreamers and doers around you who, like Toby, care more about others than their own comfort. He is truly a hero." Dan Hamer, Seattle.
“Toby was not a white savior who started a charity to Save Africa (and himself). He was not burned out by corporate life, seeking a ‘worthy’ career-choice to save himself from a bankrupted life. No, he was driven by his heart. For two decades, he worked tirelessly without pay to change Africa, to bring jobs, education, and healthcare for others with seemingly little care for himself.” Lorna Chelagat, Kenya.
"Toby is the type of person you meet once and he will change your life forever." Jonathan Cardenas.
“We celebrate Toby because of his natural–born talent, mixed with his compassionate spirit, his courage and determination as a beacon and living example that we can all be extraordinary when we truly believe in something and persistently work at it.” The Xtraordinary.com
“Your writing is amazing. You are a born storyteller. Your own personal story is a natural page turner. Running with Destiny is on par with Frank McCourt’s Angela's Ashes.” Andy Kelley Harding.
“An adventurer’s story of navigating life with few of the conventional qualities found in other explorers, but with better results for mankind.” Michael Zhan.
“Fun and Intense.” Nelson Farris, Nike’s Chief Storyteller.
"Warning (this book) contains massive inspiration." Rebecca Lyne. Former British 800m Champion.
“Shoe4Africa came into being in the craziest of ways, but its founder has seen it grow to embrace the whole of East Africa.” Nzino Mutune—Daily Metro.
“The next time you go and do some crazy run, tell me, I am coming with you!”
Two-time New York City Marathon winner, German Silva.
“I’m supporting Toby and Shoe4Africa so much, because he is doing something from the bottom of his heart. He lifts up others before himself.” Marathon World Record holder, Mary Keitany.
"You are a fantastic storyteller, both in spoken and written words, and your adventures and accomplishments are truly worth shedding light on. Thank you for sharing Toby. An amazing story about an amazing man doing amazing things for a better world." Patrik Verme.
“Another classic from the author of Train Hard, Win Easy. That book, in Kenya, is the runner’s bible!”
E. Tanui, N'gong, Kenya.
“This is one single man who has come to Kenya and struggled to do the work of a government. Who builds a national hospital and a series of public schools?” Moses Kiptanui, Three-time world champion, 1st sub-8-minute steeplechaser.
“Shoe4Africa initiatives are making a real change to the lives of people across Sub-Saharan Africa,” UK’s African Minister—Hon. Bellingham.
“I will forever support Toby and Shoe4Africa, because I have seen the wonders they’ve achieved.” Abel Kirui, 2x World Marathon Champion.
“Toby has done a great deal to raise AIDS awareness and inspire thousands of people to follow in the footsteps of their continent’s tremendous distance runners and begin running themselves.” Awareness.com, Kenneth Cole.
“I have not seen any person, or politician in Kenya, do more good than what I have seen what Toby Tanser has done.” Member of Parliament, and Boston Marathon champion, Wesley Korir.
“Unlike the other rail-thin mzungu’s who occasionally come to Kenya to try and train with a group of the world’s best runners, Tanser is not there in search of secrets to help end the medal drought in countries outside of East Africa. Not any more, anyway. He’s there to help a continent.” Duncan Larkin, The Competitor.
“Thank you also for being an inspiration for all of us. You have such a positive outlook and you are so supportive of us back-of-the-pack runners. We appreciate it.” Supreme High Court Judge, Denny Chin.
“This is great! It’s like my black and white writing in technicolor!’ Dr. Dick Traum, author, A Victory for Humanity. Founder of Achilles International.
“For many years, Toby has played a major role in nurturing Kenya’s athletic talents.” General J. Tuwei, President of Athletics Kenya.
“Toby has many other achievements under his belt, but more than anything, he shows us how one person can make a huge difference in the world.” Claire Bartholic, RunnersConnect.com
“Toby Tanser brings new meaning to 'life adventures' as he shares his incredible up and down experiences, opportunities, and life lessons.” GoBeMore.com
"Nice work Toby on Shoe4Africa." Bill Rodgers, 4X NYC & Boston Marathon winner
"I would be remiss if I didn't tell you how much I enjoyed Running With Destiny. Beautifully written, funny, poignant, honest, it has it all! I loved the bit about Carl Thackery. He ran for me in NY. One of my more memorable experiences and believe me I had plenty. Everyone, buy this book. You won't regret it!!" Elite Race Coordinator, New York City Marathon, Anne Roberts.
“Toby is one of the running ambassadors of our time.” Tina Muir, runningforreal.com
"A New York City running coach works to bring shoes, health care, and peace to Kenya." Runner's World.
"Beautifully written and inspirational - A search for and with Destiny. A poetically written journey/safari down parallel roads of physical endurance, empowerment, peace, humanitarianism, equality, education, recovery, and more. This is a story of inspiration that not only travels across and through roads and trails scattered about the earth, but those that travel through the heart and mind as well. It’s a story of not only running with destiny, but also in discovering exactly what the authors destiny really is – his purpose, his solitary call." Patrick Duffy Amazon review.
"Wow! Very inspiring. What a powerful read. Words can’t describe how much I enjoyed reading this book." Cynthia M. Amazon review.
"I loved your book and have shared it! Your writing is wonderful!" Gwen Ewing Engle.
"Toby Tanser did a phenomenal job taking the reader from one story to another. A must read and fantastic book!" Dan Sutich. Amazon review.
"I have just read your book. It is really a fantastic life and impressive actions in Kenya by you." Jan Swenson, Sweden.
"This book illustrates the INCREDIBLE difference one person can make! This book and this man is so inspiring." Doug Perry, USA.
"This is the kind of person humanity needs. From running to building a hospital he just keeps going. The world needs more Toby Tanser’s this is a master class in giving." Africa Yoon. .Amazon review.
"Toby is so unusual in that he lived a simple life, much like the other great humanitarians in history - Gandhi, Mother Theresa, but he is not a saint! His life is full of joy, fun, adventures, and giving. Become inspired to think outside the box for your own life. I know Toby taught me how to do more and be a better person in our world." Nancy Glaser. Amazon review.
"Toby's book is a most interesting story. He is a gifted writer as well as a runner and philanthropist. I purchased 4 copies for my sisters, all with the purpose of helping Toby raise funds for a second children's cancer hospital in Africa." Shirley Ewing.
"Loved the book, it’s an amazing personal journey…. You never give up." Dan Dailey.
"What a great book! Reading its pages you can feel the energy and the enthusiasm of Toby! There is so much to learn here. Very inspiring." Silvia V. Amazon review.
"By the end, this book will leave you asking yourself: if one man can do all this, then what can I do? What difference can I make in the world?" Dr. Stephen Roberts. Amazon review.
"Toby's story epitomizes persistence and determination in the face of adversity. Need inspiration? You'll find it here." Jim Rohrbach, Success Skills Coach.
"Toby’s story is cuckoo-bananas!" Ashley Johnson. The Constellation Coalition.
RUNNER'S WORLD UK, 30th ANNIVERSARY EDITION 1993-2023. 'WE SALUTE 30 KEY FIGURES WHO HAVE BEEN INSTRUMENTAL IN CHANGING THE GAME ' #25, Toby Tanser. 'TANSER’S REMARKABLE story is of an aspiring athlete who became a humanitarian and changed the lives of countless people across Africa....'
RUNNER'S WORLD Sweden, article by Stockholm Marathon winner, Ingemarie Nilsson. LINK
Nation Africa, articles and sample serialization.
December 22nd 2021 LINK "Writer making change in Africa" December 23rd 2021 LINK
"Anticipation of Kenyan athletics" December 24th LINK "Fortuitously, I stumble upon the greatest distance running group on the globe" December 25th LINK "Preparing for the first race in Kenya" December 26th LINK
"Paula brings cheer to Nandi" December 27th LINK "My neighbours were world champions..." December 28th LINK "Cracking the cranium" December 29th LINK "How can a lifechanging episode take less than ten minutes?"
December 30th LINK "I had to run to save my life" December 31st, LINK "Finally, a children's hospital"
The first library in the world to own a copy of Running With Destiny (thanks Africa) was The Ewa Beach public library in Oahu, Hawaii.
MORE BOOKS BY TOBY, PODCASTS, AND....
TRAIN HARD, WIN EASY. THE KENYAN WAY. FIRST EDITION 1997.
"If you like to read how top athletes train. This is one of the best." Said ATHLETIC'S WEEKLY, Europe's premier athletics magazine who listed this book in their TOP 20 RUNNING BOOKS OF ALL TIME! A best seller, and Toby's first book. Click to read more!
SECOND EDITION OF TRAIN HARD, WIN EASY. 2001. "A most entertaining book—fun to read, and so informative. For once I read what the Africans really do on a day to day basis. A runner's coffee table mist have. Made me wanna run...all the way to Africa." T. Syster. "If you are a goal orientated distance runner, you'll love this book." Ollie Nanyes. Re-released by TAFNEWS in 2018. Click here to read more.
THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO RUNNING THE NYC MARATHON. 2003. "As a marathon reference tool, city-guide and training tool, this book has it all- and it is not too long, which is a plus for runners wanting to get going! Fiona Bayly. "I bought this book preparing for my first New York City Marathon. Learned so much from it. There's a lot of interesting information for the runner as well as for the spectators." Camila M.M. READ MORE.....
MORE FIRE. HOW TO RUN AND TRAIN THE KENYAN WAY. 2008. "Mr Tanser has done a terrific job of illuminating this subject and book collectors should note that his other two volumes on Kenyan Running, now out of print, are selling on Amazon for over $100. More Fire is not for collectors though, but for distance runners and anyone in that category will be inspired by Tanser's account of the ferocious simplicity of Kenyan Running." Geoffrey J. Wilhelmy. Read More....
More Praise for Train Hard, Win Easy:
"I've recently read your book on the Kenyans - really good, the best thing I've read, because it is so direct and factual." Bruce Tulloh, European 5000m Champion + top British coach.
"The most complete look at the Kenyan Running phenomenon. Firsthand accounts of life in training camps.... in depth schedules...insight into their mental approach...and all-too-rare interviews and profiles of past and present greats."
Athletics Weekly (Britain).
"Of all the reasons given for Kenyan domination in distance running, the simplest is the most accurate-they train extraordinarily hard. Toby Tanser's new book says as much in its title, then fills its 200 pages with unprecedented illustration."
Running Times (USA)
"This excellently researched book... reveals much more than we have known before about how the Kenyans train and race."
Mel Watman, (Athletics International).
"The new 2nd edition is now out---a magnificent updating of Tanser's pioneering work on why Kenyans have been so dominant in middle and long distance running over the past three decades or so." Track and Field News.
"Started reading your new book; it's fantastic! Congrats. The best book on Kenyan running." Amby Burfoot, Editor-at-Large, Runner's World.
THE PODCAST of RUNNING WITH DESTINY, AN ODYSSEY of MISTAKES, MACHETES, AND MIRACLES—2021 GoBeMore (Jon & Brian), "Toby Tanser brings new meaning to “Life adventures” as he shares his incredible up-and-down experiences, opportunities, and life lessons. If you love hearing how unintentional decisions can result in remarkable results, then you'll me mesmerized by the story telling journey Toby takes you on in this episode.
“In life, you have to start your own adventure. You have to be the instigator of your own story.”—Toby Tanser.
PODCAST — 2022 Radio Interviewer Peter Roth states, "I think he (Toby) is one of the great humanitarians on the planet right now. And has made profound contributions to the world." Then as he speaks about my latest book 'Running With Destiny,' he says, "Maybe one of the greatest books I've ever read. I have to say it is one of the best books I've ever read, and I really mean it. And I've read books for hundreds for shows over the years." Listen here
PODCAST—Running to Make a Difference LINK
PODCAST—Running for Real LINK
PODCAST—Marathon talks LINK
PODCAST—Living Longer LINK
PODCAST—Constellation Coalition LINK
Youtube Interview—Sports Court LINK
CNN Interview—Sanjay Gupta LINK
TV INTERVIEW — 2022. Manhattan Neighborhood Network. The V.P. of Audible, Stacy Creamer, interviews Toby to learn about his new new book, Running With Destiny. Watch the recording on here: LINK
Runner's World Heroes LINK
SHOE4AFRICA VIDEO produced by Bob Dylan's son, Jesse Dylan; LINK
Runner's World Humanitarian of the Year Award, 2008. LINK
The greatest ever Running Video (according to just me) packed full of advice for a first time marathoner, filmed by Mike Kobal, written and starring Toby. LINK
The greatest ever (very short) conservation greenleaf sprout, also filmed by the talented Mike Kobal. LINK
My own cartoon, created by Pilar Newton LINK