Running with Swords: The Adventures and Misadventures of the Irrepressible Canadian Fencing Champion.


219 pages
Contains Photos
ISBN 978-1-55041-982-X
DDC 796.86'092




Reviewed by Lori A. Dunn

Lori A. Dunn is a ESL teacher, instructional designer, and freelance
writer in New Westminster, B.C.


Sports autobiographies are an interesting breed—at times self-congratulatory, at others, chock full of incomprehensible detail. In her engaging memoir, Sherraine MacKay succumbs to neither failing. Running with Swords is not an exhaustive list of her competitors, nor a literal blow-by-blow account of each match. Instead, it is a delightfully entertaining portrait of a truly irrepressible Canadian spirit.


MacKay’s stories of her family are especially amusing. She was drawn into athletics at an early age by her father, a veritable sports fiend. She describes her early experimentation with figure skating, then baseball, and finally her discovery of fencing. In MacKay’s memory, her rise to the top of the Canadian fencing world seems to have taken her by surprise, and the tale is couched in a tone of entertaining skepticism that is both a sampling of Canadian humility, as well as pride.


This autobiography comes in time for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, and is an inspiring look at what it takes to be a professional athlete in one of the more unglamorous, thus unfunded, sports. MacKay shares with us her life of travelling the globe to makeshift training arrangements, where she and her teammates regularly practise intensely with their past and future competitors. The rest of her time, she and her husband live in their tiny flat in Paris.


MacKay’s writing style is spare and fresh, with a simple flare for amusing anecdotes, and an ability to describe her sport clearly, engaging the reader.


MacKay, Sherraine., “Running with Swords: The Adventures and Misadventures of the Irrepressible Canadian Fencing Champion.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 19, 2024,