provides what we all need once in awhile: a nice slap in the
His book, "Ultramarathon Man, Confessions of an
All-Night Runner," is basically devoted to shattering our preconceived
notions about limits.
After a few successful races in high school, Dean Karnazes stopped
running after clashing with his track coach.
Absorbed in climbing the corporate ladder and making money, he didn't
run again for 15 years, but awakening on the morning of his 30th
birthday, Karnazes knew something wasn't right. Despite having a good
job and a loving wife, he felt dead inside.
After a hard night of drinking with friends he couldn't
bring himself to return home, and instead stripped down to his boxers,
found an old pair of sneakers, and started pounding the pavement.
Weaving through the streets of San Francisco, he ran for mile after
mile, straining underused muscles and ligaments. Finally he broke
through the city's famous fog line after about 30 miles.
"For the first time this evening- hell, for the first time in years- I
felt like this spot was precisely where I belonged," Dean Karnazes
wrote. "...never mind that I was half naked, in the middle of nowhere,
and nearly incapable of taking another step forward. That was
inconsequential. I was happy - entirely content just to stand there. I
had listened to my heart, and this is where it had lead me."
Just The Start
And that was just the beginning. Running became his life, and one by
one he conquered the most grueling endurance events humanity has put
together. He's run 135 miles across Death valley in 120 degrees and a
marathon at the south pole, but Dean Karnazes problem is that he keeps
Eventually he had to start inventing his own endurance events because
there was nothing left to do.
He "modified" the Porvidian Saturn Relay - in which 12-member teams
race relay style 199 miles from Calistoga to Santa Cruz - by running
the entire thing himself in two days without stopping. In 2006 he ran
50 marathons, in all 50 US states, in 50 consecutive day.
In short, Dean Karnazes is an animal, and a highly inspirational one at
We so often stop short in life, thinking we're bumping up against out
limits, when in reality we're bumping against our own conceptions of
what is possible.
Besides reminding me why I love to run so much, Ultra Marathonman, also
reminds me that I need to keep pushing. There is always room to grow.
Not only is his tale inspirational, but Karnazes has a simple,
enjoyable writing style and a good wit that will have you chuckling at
I only wish I could get the guy onto a healthy fruit-based raw food
diet. Humble runner that I am I've noticed a world of difference. A guy
like Karnazes could take it even farther.