Into the Wild meets Born to Run meets The Stranger in the Woods in a fascinating true story of a marathon-running hermit and a journalist’s quest to solve the mystery at the core of the enigmatic man’s existence
When journalist Brett Popplewell first learned about an aging former stuntman who was living alone inside a decaying school bus, running day and night through blizzards and heat waves, and outlasting men and women a fraction his age in one of North America’s most gruelling 24-hour ultramarathons, he was astounded yet bewildered. Captivated by this seemingly implausible tale of a vagabond super-athlete aging slower than the rest of us, he was determined to meet the apocryphal white-haired man who was pushing the boundaries of the human mind and body beyond what anyone would dream possible.
What Popplewell witnessed on a secluded mountain perch — a reclusive septuagenarian and trail runner who has more in common with Superman and Tarzan than his fellow human beings — led him on a six-year odyssey to uncover the true story of the enigmatic man who, incredibly, may have run enough miles during his lifetime to cover the distance between the earth and the moon.
Joyful and tragic, Outsider takes readers on a remarkable journey from Nazi-occupied Norway to Juan Peron’s Argentina and to London at the height of Beatlemania. It chronicles how a child born under mysterious circumstances during one of the darkest periods of the Second World War found his way onto the big screen in Goldfinger, was heralded as the world’s first extreme skier and then was driven into the wilderness, only to become known, 20 years later, as “the most elusive man in North America.”
Outsider is a bold challenge to our notions of aging, belonging and human accomplishment and a reminder to us all that age is a concept as much as it is a reality and an inspiration for those who long to break the confines imposed by their past and live in absolute freedom until their dying breath.
National Bestseller – The Globe and Mail
National #1 Bestseller – The Toronto Star
"A fascinating and thought-provoking saga that will make you rethink your self-imposed limits."
"A spellbinding and immersive portrait of a man who skirted the fringes of society as one of our great enigmas: recluse, prodigy, wildman, ultra-athlete, guru. Outsider is a riveting, deeply affecting book about the history we run from, and the limits we run to."
"If you do a deep dive on the life of any average person, you’ll find a story worth telling. In Outsider, Brett Popplewell has gone subterranean on someone so extraordinary that he seems imaginary. But you couldn’t invent Dag Aabye. He’d already invented himself.”
"In Outsider, Brett Popplewell deploys his impeccable narrative skills to produce a biography that is equal parts engrossing, heart-wrenching and inspirational. With fascinating sojourns to Nazi-occupied Norway and the dawn of extreme skiing, Outsider ultimately traces one man's path to finding a deep and abiding joy in existence amid remarkably unconventional circumstances.”
BRETT POPPLEWELL is a journalist, a bestselling author and an associate professor of journalism at Carleton University. The National Magazine Award winner has written for Bloomberg Businessweek, Mother Jones, The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Sportsnet, Maclean’s and The Walrus, among other publications. His work has also been featured in The Best American Sports Writing. Brett Popplewell lives in Ottawa.