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A consumer's guide to the best and worst of sports media and merchandise. Ground rules: If it can be read, played, heard, observed, worn, viewed, dialed or downloaded, it's in play here.

March 02, 1998|EARL GUSTKEY

What: "Surviving the Toughest Race on Earth."

Author: Martin Dugard.

Publisher: McGraw-Hill.

A little twisted, are you, in your sports tastes? You like generous amounts of pain blended in with wins, losses, strategy? Do you like it when marathon runners collapse at the finish line?

Here's a book that goes beyond pain, into the numbing realm of adventure racing, and adventure journalist Dugard's quest to survive mankind's best torture instrument posing as a sport, the Raid Gauloises race, which makes Ironman events look like Little League stuff.

Held in the most remote corners of the globe (South Africa, Patagonia, Madagascar, Oman, Borneo), the Raid is hundreds of miles long and can require world class skills in kayaking, camel riding, sky-diving, desert trekking, rock-climbing, orienteering, running, white-water rafting, mountain biking and horseback riding.

Dugard spares no horror in describing his quest, including a description of a water-borne, barbed parasite in Borneo that can enter the body quickly through any and all orifices.

To the challenged, Dugard insists, not finishing the Raid is almost as painful as winning it.

"How does it feel to quit the Raid Gauloises?" he writes.

"Like a death."

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