Ultramarathon Man

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Ultra-marathoner Dean Karnazes claims "There is magic in misery." While it would be easy to write off his habit of running for 100 miles at a time?or longer?as mere masochism, it's impossible to not admire his tenacity in pushing his body to reach one extreme goal after another. Sure, it's gory to read about how he lost one of his big toenails from shoe friction during the Western States Endurance Run. But what registers more is that here's a guy competing in an event that includes 38,000 feet of elevation change--the equivalent of scaling the Empire State Building 30 times.

Despite his considerable athleticism, "Karno" argues that the first half of any race is run with one's body, and the second half with the mind. Without delving into excessively touchy-feely territory, he explores "the possibilities of self" as he completes an ultra-marathon in 120-degree heat in Death Valley, and later the first-ever marathon at the South Pole. It's an odd combination: a California surfer dude contemplating how, as Socrates said, "Suffering leads to wisdom." But Karnazes's self-motivation is utterly intriguing, and it's impossible to read this memoir without wanting to go out and run a marathon yourself.--Erica Jorgensen

Ultrarunning legend Dean Karnazes has run 262 miles-the equivalent of ten marathons-without rest. He has run over mountains, across Death Valley, and to the South Pole-and is probably the first person to eat an entire pizza while running. With an insight,

Customer Reviews:

  • Inspirating
    In november (2007) I stumbled upon a Nissan ad on the net that featured Dean Karnazes and my interest was born. I googled him, read a lot of articles and saw a lot of video clips and I got more and more intruiged. Then I ordered the book and waited. Got it on a monday and finished it by friday. Every chance I got I read. Dean isn't the greatest of writers, but he writes in a way that ordinary people would write. I smiled a lot at his adventures and recognized myself in many of his thoughts and situations. Some gripping moments almost brought a tear to my eye.
    Read it if you're a runner (at every level), read it if you're not a runner. This book is not about running, it's about not giving up and about following your heart.
    As a newborn runner since 1? year, I wasn't interested in ultrarunning before I "met" Dean, but next year I'm aiming for my first 50K....more info
  • highly motivational
    Well written and very insightful. Details the ways that he motivates himself to keep going even after most rational people would have hung up the towel and cried. I'm glad I read it, and it has helped me to push through my own mental and physical barriers while running....more info
  • Going Beyond Mental
    I recently trained for a half marathon to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I have intentionally never ran because I have countless and numerous disabilities in my feet, legs and knees. I was able to run the event and cross the finish line primarily because of this book.

    Dean, through his book, taught me that the body can be conditioned to do anything. Because of this book I was able to push through til the end. So many times during training I'd barely hobble because of the pain and I would keep telling myself "Pain is the body's way of ridding itself of weakness." (This is one of the many nuggets I grabbed from this book)

    If you're an athlete or considering doing some type of endurance event you've never done before, you MUST get this book. You will never read an endurance book like this I guarantee it. ...more info
  • so, so
    Interesting world that I had no idea existed, but written by a guy with a pretty big ego. Some good anecdotes, some bravado, overall entertaining read....more info
  • Great Motivator
    If you are any type of runner or athlete I highly recommend this book. Its a fast read that will get you off your couch and on the roads training. Without a doubt, Dean's book got me back to being a serious athlete....more info
  • Easy to read, very good book
    I would like a little more information in some special details, for example in diet, workouts, etc..... id. est. some tips for me to improve my running.

    Any way it is very good book....more info
  • Amazing!
    Let me preface my review by stating that I am not an avid reader, in fact, I can not remember the last book I read...
    This book is absolutely wonderful! Any runner, or athlete will achieve a sense of motivation from reading this book - not to mention the pointers and learning points along the way. I was enduring a mid-summer burn out, read this book in 2 days, and have a new found appreciation for the sport of running. Whenever I am struggling on a 10-mile jog, I think of Dean's 100 miler and it doesn't seem so bad. This book also includes great nutrition information and advice and is a great starting point for learning to eat the right foods. I can't recommend it enough!...more info
  • N-spirational
    The book was extremely inspirational. I couldn't put it down and read it in two days!!! The experiences of discomfort and pain...its good to know its rather common and not shear lunacy!!! This book will motivate, inspire, and make you know that you are NOT alone. Forget that everyone else thinks you're crazy and don't nor won't understand the journey that you are undertaking. Just "...run with your heart" and purpose....more info
  • Impressed and Inspired
    Very familiar with Karnazes' resume from Outside mag and others, but never picked up this book because it seemed to be fluffy redux of other material. I was incredibly wrong. Written in plain style, the content is inspiring and downright belivable. No superhuman motivational stuff, just lots of get-down-to-business material about taking on challenges and having a fighting spirit. I was very surprised how much I liked this book and look forward to more like this....more info
  • Ultramarathon Man
    A fast, fun, and inspirational read. The guy is a machine....in 5th gear 24/7....his endurance, drive and heady accomplishments are mind-blowing. Oh, and he's extremely fortunate to have such a supportive wife and family. ...more info
  • A fast read that will leave time for you to go out and run!
    I read this book after having it recommended to me by a good friend. I could have demolished it in a day (it's a "small-format" book with good-sized type and less than 300 pages), but since I was a little busy when I read it, it took me a couple days to finish it. You will find it hard to put down. Simply put, this guy is a machine! To go from not running at all in 15 years (he took a LONG break from running from age 15 until he turned 30) and then, at a snap, to run all night for 30 miles, is not something a "normal" person would do! Sometimes it's good to not be "normal," though, as it is in this case.

    Karnazes went from a non-runner to an ultra-runner soon after he took up the sport. Now, his routine training runs are often 50+ miles. What this says to me is that anything is possible with a lot of hard work an dedication. I liked his comment about how the ultra-endurance sport world "self-selects" only the most dedicated people. Anyone who is not completely dialed in to the training demands will not last. As it should be, in my mind. Probably the most amazing aspect of it all is that he does it while still working a normal job and maintaining a family life. His wife and children are fixtures at all of his races, as are his parents. That's a good thing. It is unlikely that he would enjoy success in the sport without his family's blessing (or he would have to make the choice between his training/racing and his family, a tough place to be).

    In summary, this is a motivating tale told by a guy who is getting ready to tackle his biggest challenge yet this fall - 50 marathons in 50 days! I'd like to get one marathon in this fall, something that I think that I should be able to do, based on what Karnazes is able to do with the same 24 hours per day that I get. Read this book, get fired up, and then go run all night!...more info
  • Running with the Devil
    An upfront admission - I am a horrible runner. Maybe the worst ever. We have to qualify in a PT test every quarter and the 1 1/2 mile run kills me. Every time.

    That said, Mr. Karnazes made me want to be a runner. Maybe not enough to go out there and run for real, but in my heart he made me a runner, which would amaze any of my friends who know me well.

    Since I can't run for anything but have always been a kind of extreme guy in the hobbies I pick (mixed martial arts, shooting, skydiving, etc.) I decided to employ Mr. Karnazes' philosophy in other directions - weightlifting. I'm currently learning the Olympic lifts and am looking to see how far I can push my body in executing them.

    Find that itch you have to scratch, then read Karnazes' book - it will inspire you to get off the couch and go life live. And to live it hard. ...more info
  • Motivating
    An amazing story for anyone who likes anything running. It made me feel so lazy and motivated me to stop reading and get running!...more info
  • Ouch! It's gotta hurt!
    ...reading the book, I mean. At least if you care about things like quality of writing, insightfulness, and some semblance of a balanced view of an intriguing, punishing sport.

    This is a book about Dean. While I found parts of it had enough plot, drama, and wit to be enjoyable (especially the desciption of his first Western States 100 mile run) and enjoyed learning about a little-known sport, the incessant self-promotion and false humility was just too much. UltraEgo Man might have been a better title.

    I found it interesting to list all customer reviews from lowest to highest and look at the low end. Many of the one star ratings come from other ultrarunners who point out some inaccuracies and misrepresentations. Also, the viewpoints of Dean as a marketer and egoist (and marginal writer) ring very true.

    3 stars for subject matter: the sometimes inspiring and entertaining content, as well as the novelty of a little-known pursuit.

    1 star (or less) for presentation: the content viewed through the looking-glass of a guy who embodies a lot of the qualities I disrespect and dislike....more info
  • An awe-inspiring read! Fantastic accomplishments!
    This is a great read for anyone desiring to acheive any type of endurance goal. It's simply inspiring. Dean had me entertained from cover to cover with his super-human experiences. I have been fortunate to know at least one of the characters in this story; Brent from Wyoming. I now have a new goal in life. No, its not to run a 100 mile ultra; its to meet Dean and run 1 "slow" mile with him. I will be forever humbled. Great story!...more info
  • Exploring the outer limits
    Karnazes is one of the new pioneers, mapping how far the human mind and body can be pushed, and this book tells of his journeys. Amazing person, inspirational book....more info
  • Fascinating Ability to run .. not a great writer
    Dean Karnazes fascinated me from the get-go when I first read an article about him in the Times. His ability to run for days on end motivated me to take up running more seriously, in particular his description of the giddy joys of eating - imagine downing whole cheesecakes for dessert.

    The book was a letdown. It says a lot that the best thing about it was that it was a quick read. He does a decent job of describing the weird kinds physical challanges and side effects during the races. His accounts of the extreme elements encountered in mountains, deserts, forests and the are humbling and serve to remind us of our place on earth.

    That said, the book failed at mutliple levels. Pretty quickly into the book, the self-pomposity and efforts to counter-balance it with fake humility come to the fore. He did a poor job of articulating the mental underpinnings behind such physical feats. It was a always a very unsophisticated rehash of 'Your body runs the first 10 miles, the mind runs the next 10 and your heart has to take over for the remaining six point two.'

    I'm glad I read it but I feel even better that I borrowed it from the local library.

    ...more info
  • Good Stories; Better than average Blog Writing
    I'll confess up front that I'm a bit of an endurance nut myself. I've completed several 100+ mile bike rides and am just starting to get into longer distance running.

    That being said, I love reading running and cycling endurance stories online, mostly in Blog format, and I bought this book more for the running stories than for a well-written, comprehensive autobiography.

    Of course Karnazes is not a professional writer, but he certainly puts sentences together better than the average blog writer out there. The running stories are what it's about, and Dean delivers high-quality accounts of the highs and lows of endurance events. He offers strong insight into the (crazy) minds of ultra-runners.

    Yes, the autobiographical sections are a little weak and border on cheesy, but they do come across as genuine to me, and they end up being a decent supplement to the running stories.

    I recommend this for runners and perhaps spouses of runners seeking some insight into their partners' crazy obsessions. ...more info
  • Interesting, to say the least
    There is something wrong with Dean Karnazes. In fact, not just him, but there is something wrong with anyone that does what these men and women do and I find it entirely interesting. To train and run these 50 mile hikes/runs or to run Badwater or to do these runs is just not normal and that is why it makes these books so much fun to go through. Its fun because it is hard to understand how someone would have that kind of drive and determination to do it. Karnazes does and tries to explain it.

    There are some things that I found confusing or a little lacking. He describes how he re-picked up running again after nearly a decade of not running. You are kind of given the impression that he just picked it up and and worked his way up and that he knows what someone goes thru in starting to run. My experience was nothing like his...I ran 1 mile and then tried to do the same the next day. His first day of running? 30 miles all done thru the middle of the night. I guess we are all wired differently.

    I didn't care much for the first marathon at the South Pole. It seemed silly. It seemed to be of little purpose but I guess it gave him the exposure that he needed and so that it was worth it to him.

    OK, the parts that I did enjoy? There were many. I loved hearing of his first marathons. I enjoyed hearing how he would run to the marathon (7-10 miles) and get there right when the marathon started. It was very entertaining to hear of his first 50 miler as well as the Badwater runs. He is remarkable and those that do the runs with him or competing against him are remarkable as well.

    There can be questions about him taking the time away from his family to do these runs...but is it really our business? I enjoyed the book quite a book and it has inspired me to go out and run 1-2 miles tonight. Impressive, huh?...more info
  • Inspirational and motivational
    As somebody who is training for a marathon, I picked this book up for some needed motivation. Dean's book does not disappoint. While much of this memoir had me thinking "this guy's crazy!" I enjoyed the anecdotes about the things that he does or happen to him while he's on the run. And I truly do find his boundless willpower inspiring. I am pretty sure I won't keel over now if I do another mile, and eventually that nagging pain in my ------- (insert body part) will subside so I can finish up my scheduled long run.
    I am glad Dean has shed a little light on this relatively unknown sport. It gave me an idea of how limitless our bodies can be with proper mental conditioning.
    I would recommend this book for running enthusiasts of all levels. Besides being motivational, it is a really fun read....more info
  • inspirational...
    I've recently started running competitively and am training for my first marathon. I bought this book upon the recommendations found here and out of curiousity about the man that seems to be everywhere right now. He is on the cover of the current issue of Runner's World.

    I would give 4.5 stars if I were able, but as I'm not I have to err on the down side. This book is very good, but not great, if taken only at face value. Dean's journey is inspirational and his feats are awe-inspiring. Even the most sedentary couch potato must feel some compulsion to get up and run after reading this book. As others have pointed out, Dean isn't the first to tread where he has gone (maybe with the exception of the marathon to the South Pole) and others have achieved feats greater than his own. But Dean is a marketer by trade and has masterfully marketed his own story. If others are able to benefit even a small amount from his success, then that is worthwhile.

    His tale is entertaining and filled with humor and emotion. This book is his celebration of his accomplishments and he takes no small amount of enjoyment in telling us about them. I didn't think he was overly self-promoting in his effort. I think he genuinely wants to inspire others and he achieves with this book.

    I wish he would have included more details about his training regimen but I'm sure he knew that would cost some mass-appeal. The paperback edition has an epilogue that provides a little more information about his training and diet philosophy.

    I read this book in one day after buying it. The story is that engaging and compelling. It will continue to motivate me through my own training and that is worth the price of admission....more info
  • Fast-Paced and Inspriring
    This is a great read for any athlete. Not only is it about a man's passion for running but it is also about digging deep and finding hope within yourself even when you've already laid it all on the line. Dean is a tremendous athlete and reading about his 100 mile races is truly inspiring. Some may think that his writing is arrogant, self-centered, and filled with bragging but I think anyone who can run 200+ miles or 50 marathons in 50 days deserves the right to think of himself highly. I recommend this book for any athlete looking to be inspired....more info
  • An incredible example of exceeding mental and physical barriers...
    Many of the personal improvement blogs I follow have had rave reviews about the book Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner by Dean Karnazes. I started it last night, and read it cover to cover, finishing slightly before midnight. This is an excellent example of how the mind can break through barriers thought insurmountable.

    Dean Karnazes had always enjoyed running and pushing himself to the limit as a kid. This love of running "from the heart" led him to a successful high school career as a cross-country runner, battling others who had more age and experience. But he hung up his running shoes after an unfortunate encounter with the high school track coach (different than the cross-country coach), and that was the last competitive running he did for the next 16 years. While being a party animal in college, his life changed forever when his sister died in a car accident. The family was devastated, but he cleaned up his act and went on to a successful sales career. But on his 30th birthday, he hit his crisis point. He was empty inside, controlled by his job, and had no joy in what he was doing. After getting drunk at a party that night, he wandered home, saw his running shoes (now used for gardening), stripped down to his underwear and a t-shirt, and started off on a run. 30 miles later, worn out, in great pain, he called his wife to come pick him up. But that was the turning point for him. He had pushed past physical and mental barriers and rediscovered a goal and motivation he hadn't had in a long time. His running became an obsession, and it led him to start seeking out opportunities to test himself. Ultramarathons became his passion, and thus began a series of incredible feats that show just what a person is capable of.

    Karnazes is an inspiration to those who think they "can't". His blow-by-blow account of his first Western States 100 event sucked me in and kept me turning the pages to see how it all turned out. After that, you have the Badwaters event (through Death Valley in the summer), a 197 mile relay event run solo, and the first Antarctic marathon. In all those cases (and many others), he suffered incredible physical and mental torture along the way but always kept moving forward, sometimes even crawling forward, towards his goal. I have no doubt he'll end up meeting his demise on one of these runs, but he'll have lived his life on his terms and will have accomplished more than 100 people combined.

    While I don't advocate everyone running out (no pun intended) and training for an ultramarathon, I *do* believe that everyone should have goals and passions that they pursue wholeheartedly. If you want some serious inspiration to see what can be done with mental and physical focus, this is the perfect book.
    ...more info
  • Great book that got me moving
    Dean does a great job of telling his story and inspiring others to live. After reading the book, I have started doing better at taking care of my body as well as running more. I do wonder what kinds of health issues he will run into as he ages - it is hard to believe a body can take that much abuse and not have lasting effects.

    Way to go Dean, keep on running!...more info
  • Amazing stuff, inspiring
    Being a runner myself, the most amazing story in the book is the relay run from Calistoga to Santa Cruz. He ran it solo and after running 198 miles, ran the last mile in under 6 minutes. How in the heck can anyone do that??? I do agree that there are some things that are rather cliche but overall it's great to read. Anyone who runs will find it inspiring. Watching some of the stories about Dean and interviews is inspiring as well. I think it was Dean's first Badwater where he passed out and they took him back to the hotel. When he came to he was upset they had taken him out of the race. Which left me wondering, how do people like Dean know when they are pushing their bodies beyond the safe point? At what point do you cause permanent damage? Can you become so used to pain that you don't stop when you should?...more info
  • He just gave me the inspiration I was looking for....
    Coming from a person who dabbled in ultra marathons a decade ago, Dean has motivated me to make the jump from the mundane marathon to the longer races again. This book would not let me put it down, and I ended up reading it in one long session (and I'm not a fast reader). I have a fear of jumping from the 100K to the 100 mile race due to running at night and Dean told the story of how difficult it is to achieve the 100 mile limit and beyond. I'm amazed that you can make money doing what you love and admire him for doing it. Now there is a role model (not your role of the mill). ...more info
  • Succeed doing something excessive that matters to you!
    I loved this book, but I hate running! Don't even like runners, but I couldn't put this book down!

    Why did I buy this book?? I like excess! Running 6 or 7 back-to-back marathons is excessive, but if you enjoy it, go for it. The author, Dean Karnazes, obviously loves running and his enthusiasm bubbles through the pages. His honesty is refreshing too (e.g. he doesn't know why he runs). The book chronicles his running career and is fascinating. From his eating an entire cheesecake and large pizza while running (think about how hard just holding all that food while running would be), to his 100 mile run through mountains, to his race in Death Valley (he passed out the first time), this book captivated me.

    Dean and I have a lot in common. We are both Greek, have lots of upper body muscle (i.e. we are not built like runners), are excessive, successful in business, and dedicated family men. We differ in some ways: he runs and I don't, he's ripped and I'm a bit overweight, his resting heart rate is in the 30s and mine is somewhere above twice that. But I'm willing to bet we're a lot more alike than dissimilar; he has an overdrive to excess in the things he loves as I do.

    "The average obsessive-compulsive takes seven years to get help. The average runner covers 10,920 miles in that time." I'm willing to bet Dean is not "average" in anything that's important to him, and I sure hope I'm not either! Are you?

    "Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely and in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming: 'WOW!! What a ride!'"
    -a running buddy of Dean's.

    Buy this book. Read it. Get motivated. Do something excessive that matters to you. Succeed....more info
  • You'll be an all-night reader.
    I picked this up on a whim while waiting in line and had finished it by the next evening. If you were ever a long-distance runner, you'll find yourself grinning and nodding because you can relate to everything. This book gave me such a strong desire to run ultras that I would have started training immediately if I wasn't grounded by my knees. As it was, I went out and did 12 miles, then remembered why I can't do that anymore. My marathoning friends are getting this for Christmas....more info
  • Go Go Karnazes!
    I picked this book up at a bookstore in Branson, Missouri, never having heard of Dean Karnazes, only wanting something to help inspire me to run again (I used to distance run myself, but only managed one marathon before seriously injuring my knee). I'm hoping my injuries have all healed by now, it's been a long time, but anyways, I found this book to be just what the doctor ordered. Dean Karnazes is an amazing person, and is extremely disciplined and dedicated to ultradistance running. His stories will no doubt inspire you and motivate you to put on those beat up old running shoes and head on out. If I could give this book more than 5 stars I would, it's that good.

    UPDATE: I met Dean at the Lewis & Clark marathon in St. Charles, MO. This race was the first in the Endurance 50 that Dean ran in (50 marathons/50 states/50 consecutive days). He's a really great guy, so I'd doubly recommend trying this book....more info
  • Great guy, fab read, makes you want to RUN
    I had the pleasure of meeting Dean in San Francisco 2005 at the marathon expo. He was gracious and wonderful. I bought my book from him. Read it on the airplane ride back to Atlanta. Finished the whole thing. Just really enjoyed it! Funny and will hit home with even the non runner!...more info
  • Quick read for those who run
    I was surprised by the fact that I read this book in 2 days. The only time I read is right before bed (usually for +/- 30 minutes). This book was actually engaging enough for me to want to stay up to read it. It's definitely a inspirational and worthwhile read for those who run. I'm not sure if it would be as interesting to someone who is not a runner but I intend to lend the book to friends to find out....more info
  • Motivational Reading for the Casual Runner
    Ultramarathon Man is a testimony of human endurance.

    While I don't recommend being as insane as Dean Karnazes, I do recommend reading this book to realize just how much the human body can take and how powerful your mind can truly be.

    Dean Karnazes has pushed the endurance envelope for many years and has the claim to fame of running 262 miles straight!

    The book is a quick read and will let you into the mind of a guy who thinks a marathon is a warm up. I've given this book to plenty of couch potatoes, who have in turn started to run just because they feel guilty for not doing any activity when Karnazes is running hundreds of miles to raise money for charities.

    Not to say you should feel guilty or not, Karnazes is an inspiration to anyone who is starting or continuing on a fitness plan.

    Pick up the book and find out just how far you can go. You'll be surprised to find out where you end up!

    Kevin Gianni, NCSF-CPT
    Author and Personal Trainer...more info
  • An inspirational Ultrarunner
    It has been a long time since a book inspired me to do more, to become more, to strive harder than I have ever before. Ultramarathon Man has done just this, literally. I already enjoy running quite a bit and am slowly but steadily increasing my endurance. I was going to go out for an 8 mile run but after reading about Karnazes' first Western States 100 I pushed it to 13.1 miles, the longest training run I have ever done. Of course it was my desire, but it was Karnazes' inspirational book that lit a fire under me.

    I don't mean inspiration as in sappy and that cheesy bravado of "you can do it, I know you can" kind of way. His is the best kind of inspiration, the kind that inspires by doing. To feel as though I experienced his Ultra races at Western States, Badwater, South Pole and the 199 mile Relay is a great achievement, a testament to his abilities as a runner and a writer. Much props must go to Karnazes. In fact almost too much as I oftentimes found myself shaking my head and smiling, saying "this guy is crazy".

    Karnazes is history in the making, achieving feats that no other human has ever done. His tenacity is awe inspiring and, more importantly, his view on life is commendable. Even if you are not a runner you should run out and read this book. For it isn't too often that you can pick up a book to read about the trials and tribulations of one man and become inspired to want to do more with your own life. A definite recommend.

    5 stars....more info
  • Motivating and inspiring
    I recently purchased this book on Amazon and was pleasantly surprised to learn that it had also been autographed. I'm currently training for Ironman Arizona and this book was the extra motivation and inspiration I needed.

    This story is tremendous, for athletes and non-athletes alike. Warning--you may be inspired to turn off the tv, get off your couch and go for a run. The cool thing is that Dean doesn't come off as arrogant despite all his accomplishments.

    I think I'm going to head out for a 30 mile run......more info
  • humbling read
    being an active person, this books made me realize and understand the ability to push the human body to the upmost extreme's. For the normal person, a sense of acheivement is felt after a walk, 5k or 10k run but Mr. Karnazes allows us to enter his world of defying the normal achievement bar.

    Great read!...more info
  • A running and marketing sensation
    Dean Karnazes is a phenomenon: frequent guest on television and radio shows; subject of numerous articles and magazine cover shots; regular columnist in Men's Health magazine; popular keynote speaker. Karnazes has been acclaimed in various magazines as perhaps "the fittest man in the world," "the ultimate running specimen," "the quintessential ultramarathoner," an "ultrarunning legend," and "the perfect beast." And it all was kicked off by his best-selling book, Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner.

    Karnazes refers to himself as an ordinary person with no special talent, who has performed amazing feats simply by dint of high ambition and unwavering determination.

    Karnazes' resolve is indisputable. But he underrates his inherent abilities. His book describes various endurance exploits accomplished as a child and youth, as well as the unusually quick progress he made when he seriously took up long distance running as an adult. These are signs of a person who has exceptional natural stamina. Determination (and even diligent training) alone would not be sufficient to produce his results as an endurance athlete.

    Karnazes also has rare energy. He writes of frequently running much of the night during the weekends and then spending active days with his family. He says he often gets by on four hours of sleep per night for extended periods. He tells about running for almost 48 hours straight, covering 200 miles, and then devoting several hours to dash about an amusement park with his kids. Most people could not come close to matching his vitality, no matter how resolute they might be.

    While Karnazes may consider himself an ordinary person, he asserts that he is accomplishing things that are extraordinary, even unprecedented. But his achievements, notable as they may be, are not always as great as some of the hype surrounding them might suggest.

    Karnazes indicates in his book that he found it more and more difficult to find organized events that supplied the challenge he sought. Thus, he started creating his own extreme events. In that vein, Karnazes' next big endeavor is to run 50 marathons in the 50 states in 50 consecutive days, beginning on September 17, 2006. The website promoting this venture states that Karnazes "will transcend preconceived notions of human endurance." And Karnazes has declared, "To my knowledge, no one has ever attempted this before."

    Nevertheless, a relatively unknown runner, Sam Thompson, raising money for Hurricane Katrina relief, is on course to complete the same feat on August 19, 2006, before Karnazes even begins his attempt. (Thompson is not charging anything for people to run with him, while Karnazes is charging $100 per person. Given Karnazes' star power, he very well may get more takers than Thompson has, notwithstanding the hefty participation fee.)

    While presumably unaware of Thompson's plan, Karnazes certainly must have known that others have performed consecutive day running exploits that are even more impressive. A few examples:

    * Participants in the 2002 and 2004 Runs Across America averaged over 43 miles per day for 71 days in running more than 3,080 miles.

    * Finishers must complete the annual Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race in Queens, New York in 51 days or less, requiring an average of over 60 miles a day.

    * In 2005, Andrew Thompson completed the rugged and mountainous 2,174-mile Appalachian Trail in 47-1/2 days, averaging over 45 miles a day.

    * In 2005, 55-year old David Horton completed the equally difficult 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail (going from the U.S. border with Mexico to the U.S. border with Canada) in 66 days, averaging 40 miles a day.

    In more standard competitive ultramarathon events, Karnazes' record, though quite respectable, is by no means unrivaled:

    * His best time in the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run is more than two hours slower than the best time of seven-time winner Scott Jurek.

    * His fastest performance in the Badwater Ultramarathon is two hours and forty-six minutes slower than that of Jurek.

    * In the International Association of Ultrarunners 2005 24-Hour World Challenge, Karnazes finished 29th in the male division, running 136.2 miles in 24 hours, compared to 166.5 miles for the winner, Anatoliy Kruglikov of Russia. In addition, five women finished ahead of Karnazes.

    A cyclist who finished 29th in the Tour de France or a runner who finished 29th in the Olympic Marathon would not be lionized as Karnazes has been. Indeed, Karnazes has received far more attention than the 28 men and the 5 women who finished ahead of him in the 24-Hour World Challenge put together. Why?

    Karnazes has been very skillful in promoting himself. He has put his background as a marketing professional to good use. He clearly has a hunger for fame. He has written an entertaining book. He is a good-looking guy, with what he describes in his book as a "chiseled build." He has a lively sense of humor. He is media savvy. He has astute commercial instincts. And since the sphere of ultramarathoning is relatively obscure and not as tightly organized as most more established sports, it is easier to create an exaggerated impression of an ultramarathoner's ability with the general public through clever marketing.

    Some admire Karnazes for his marketing prowess. Others find him self-absorbed and overly concerned with image.

    To his credit, Karnazes has used his renown to raise money for worthy charitable causes. He also has inspired people to stretch their limits beyond what they thought possible. He no doubt has more challenges in store.

    David C. Burgess...more info
  • Ultra Ego Man
    By any definition, Dean Karnazes has incredible endurance, but no less impressive are his mammoth ego and complete lack of humility.

    I found the book interesting to a point. I also found it tiresome, reductive, sexist and borderline offensive and I ended up feeling sorry for his children and wife, barely mentioned in the book except in the most unidimensional terms and reduced to spending every vacation schlepped around in a motor home to watch daddy run.

    A passage, presented with great intended humor, relating to his sending a tampon to a friend as a gesture of the man's weakness left my jaw on the floor with disgust and shock. I also found it ironic that he mentioned so little related to the birth of his children, an endurance event that most women would gladly trade for an overnight run.

    Since ultra endurance athletics is becoming so much more mainstream, I'm certain that many more interesting and well written stories will soon emerge. I look forward to that.

    ...more info
  • Beyond Inspiring!
    When he runs it seems effortless but when pain comes knocking at his door, it hits him hard! Dean Karnaze, an ultra marathon man could inspire just about anyone to do just about anything! The title of this book is the Ultra Marathon Man and is a biography written by Dean Karnaze. It's the perfect book when in need of inspiration it's the confessions of an all night runner. On a scale of five stars I would give this book five stars because it was amazing book that worked its way onto the national bestsellers list. "Iron man Dean Karnaze is no mere mortal" says the times. I agree with this because in the book Dean takes on athletic journeys that I could never imagine anyone accomplishing. He tackles run that are hundreds of miles long and makes them look like a walk in the park.

    Something I really loved about this book was that Dean wasn't running to run, he was running to try to save a young girl in the hospital fighting for her life. Every time Dean loses motivation all he needs to do is pull out his picture of her and look into her pleading hopeful eyes and continue to tackle his miles that would lie ahead. When I was deeply engrossed of the pages of Dean's life I found my favorite part early in the story. My favorite part was right in the beginning when Dean was out doing an all night run and notices his deep newfound hunger. So to tame his hunger he orders a pizza serving for eight and has it delivered to him while running.

    The Genre of this book is an autobiography because Dean wrote it about himself. Even though Dean's mainly just a runner in the book his was an amazing written and the interesting topics just seem to jump off the pages. Dean's definitely the main character and the rest of the character consists of his family and friends. I would recommend this book to all the adults and kids above 6th grade because since it's about his life occasionally there some inappropriate words. As long as you in for a good book you'll be in for a treat by reading about Dean Karnaze.
    -RJW...more info
  • Great Read
    I recieved Karnazes' 50/50 book for Christmas from my mother-in-law and really enjoyed it. I decided to give Ultra a read because of the first. I enjoyed Ultra too but for a slightly different reason. 50/50 had more "runner's humor" while Ultra was more inspirational.

    Last week I ran my second 50k (first one in over 15 years) and really enjoyed it. Although an accomplished marathoner already, the extra 5+ miles was not that bad, but running on a trail vs. pavement was my challenge. I tripped and fell on cleverly disguised roots 11 times during the run. I feel lucky I did not sustain any seriously injuries. Now I am looking for a 50 miler before the weather gets too hot here in Florida.

    Ultras have been roaming around in the back of my mind for some time. Reading Karnazes' books might have opened the door. My wife is blaming her mother. ...more info
  • amazing read
    this book played an huge part in getting me off my butt and back on the road. he has a great story and this book is only the start of it. there is so much more to learn and follow from the things that Dean does on a daily basis. Honestly, you'll just feel lazy for not doing more. it helps you to start cutting out TV, bad eating, and putting a focus on health and family. You'll be a better parent, friend, "significant other", or whatever by taking an hour away from TV or internet and putting that into a walk, a jog, a run, a focus. Set a goal to read this book. Then set another goal to run a 5K, or something. keep those goals coming and this book will help. There are are not words enough to express the power nature and the life changes this book will provide....more info
  • All Night Runner
    As an ultra runner myself I know Dean personally anmd have met him a few times.
    Having run myself for 19 eyears on every continent myself I certainly can nrelate to his stories.
    I am not i9nterested in finishinmg times but rather enjoy the experience being in nature.

    Dean, I think is opver doing iot a little andn maybe not too many people can relate to what he does on teh same level.
    However I think the book was well wtritten also the appeal and audience may have been somewaht limited.

    It espouses several good human qualities such as detemination, disciplene and endurance, all attribute sthat will benefit anybody throughout life.
    All in all, I think this is an excellent book, well written and certainly entertaining to read even if you are not a runner.
    ...more info
  • Explodes the "overtraining" myth
    Many other reviewers have discussed high points in this terrific book, so let me just mention one other revelation. Whenever magazines, newspapers, or TV journalists discuss exercise, they alway warn against the horrors of "overtraining." Working out the same muscle groups on consecutive days is always presented as a recipe for disaster.

    It's sheer nonsense, and a book like this proves it. With obesity and Type 2 diabetes rampant in this country, we could all use a fewer warnings about "overtraining" and more encouragement to get out there every day and push ourselves. The human body was designed to be in almost constant motion every day, not stuck in a chair playing video games. The more grueling events Karnazes performs, the better and stronger he becomes. A marathon is not an amazing example of human endurance, it's a rather normal part of a hunter-gatherer's day, which is what we all are, genetically speaking. Thanks, Dean, for showing us the truth about the human body and what it can really do! ...more info


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