Quick Review: The Marathon Monks of Mount Hiei

The Marathon Monks run a marathon distance a day for 100 days in a row. They kill themselves if they fail in any part of their practice. Meet the Marathon monks of Mount Hiei.

The Marathon Monks

Instead of being dressed in traditional black Buddhist clothes, The Marathon Monks wear white, the color of death. They carry a knife in their belt. This is to take their life if they fail in any element of their practice. The knife for self-disembowelment and the belt for hanging.

These buddhist monks and super athletes reaching for enlightenment in the here and now thought physical movement.

Video Review:

Video Review of The Marathon Monks of Mount Hiei by John Stevens

The 1000-Day Marathon

The 1000-Day Marathon is a big part of the practice of the Marathon Monks and it takes 7 years to complete. The first 5 years they run a marathon each day for 100 days straight. This is repeated 7 times. For the last 2 years the distance is increased to two Marathon distances each day (84km/52 miles!).They also adds a wild cart to this routine to spice things up. A 9-day fast during continuous meditation, without water or sleep.

The 12 year retreat

As if that wasn’t enough there is also the 12 Year Retreat. A regiment of constant cleaning of the dead temple fathers resting grounds. Living on left overs, and only allowed to rest for 3 hours a night — FOR 12 YEARS!


When we get familiar with the tremendous feats of people like the Marathon Monks, either through books or elsewhere, our ability to complain about trifles is diminished.

Our standards and expectations of ourselves and others are so low nowadays… SO LOW.. (at least in Sweden where I live), that learning about stuff like this can, at least temporarily, raise the expectation bar a bit. So that you don’t get too cocky for blowing some air into an inflatable pool. Or praise the one that did it. 😎

What’s the other side of the coin? Many tend to be really hard on ourselves, and arguably we could do well in giving ourselves a break from time to time.

All these paradoxes of life..


It’s a great book but it is not a book for everyone. It’s poorly written and weirdly edited at times, but the content is truly fascinating if you are a fan of running, endurance or just fascinated by incredible human achievements – then look no further!

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️  out of 5

Further Reading

If you enjoyed The Marathon Monks of Mount Hiei then you might like these books:

Born to Run – Christopher McDougall (Review)
Can’t Hurt Me – David Goggins (Review Coming Soon)
3 Book AboutThe Surprising Benefits of Voluntary Discomfort (Article)
Endure – Alex Hutchinson (Review)

Find more great reads on my book reviews page and the Great Books List
Video Reviews every week on YouTube

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts

Begin typing your search term above and press enter to search. Press ESC to cancel.

Back To Top