Dean Karnazes is one of the several distance runners that I look up to. His early exploits are well documented in the book Ultramarathon man. I picked up this book in 2006 and find it a good motivational read before a long or a tough run. Now he also has a website by the same name. His achievement of running 50 marathons in 50 US states on 50 consecutive days is documented in 50/50: Secrets I Learned Running 50 Marathons in 50 Days -- and How You Too Can Achieve Super Endurance! - it is on my list of running related books to buy. I had the privilege of running with Dean in NJ in November 2006 when he was doing his 49th of the 50 marathons. I ran the HM at that time and managed to run with him for a few minutes and also get my copy of his book autographed! This is what I wrote to the RFL mailing list on 5th November 2006.
I had one of the most memorable half marathon runs of my life today. I was a little apprehensive about having a good run within 36 hours of landing in the US - plus it was quite cold - about 6 degrees Celcius and windy at 9am. The good thing was it was bright and sunny. Dean arrived at about 10 past 9am and spoke to the 200+ runners for a few minutes. The race started at about 920am . This was a non-timed, non-competitive run with all the runners running together at an average speed of about 10.5 minutes per mile. There was a cop car in front of the entourage and cops on bikes ensuring that the runners got priority at traffic intersections.
Dean came across as a very unassuming, friendly guy talking to everyone. In fact, it was amazing to see him talk almost non-stop considering that today was his 49th consecutive marathon. People running with him, including myself, asked a lot of questions (which he must have been asked in each one of his runs) and he happily responded. He also had a great sense of humour. Some one asked him whether he gave any inputs in the selection of the courses in each of the 50 states. Yes, I asked them to pick the shortest courses was the answer. What will you do on the 51st day? Well, get up in the morning and go for a long run was the response. In fact, it looks like he's thinking of continuing to run marathons even after the 50th one tomorrow. Apparently, the most difficult part of the runs was the 1 hour media interaction and autographing 100-200 books after the run and then sitting in the bus for several hours going from one state to another. The idea of running in each of the 50 states apparently came to him 4 years ago and took about 2 years of planning and organisation.
When I told Dean that I was running with a copy of his book he immediately asked whether I was carrying a en. When I gave him the pen and the book he autographed it 'on the run'. Dean now wants to run 500+ miles non stop. I met several runners who had run the previous day with Dean in Philadelphia and many more who planned to do the NYC marathon the next day. Also, met a few ultra marathon runners. Completed the half marathon in about 2 hours 10 minutes – felt quite good and strong at the end of it. Was in fact tempted to continue on and do the full but decided against it - had a 2.5 hours drive to do after the run and also a very hectic work week ahead.
All in all it was a great experience!!
And now to the main topic of this post. On Sunday 11th October 2009 Dean Karnazes accepted the challenge to run two marathon distances on the same day, back-to-back at the 2009 Bank of America Chicago Marathon as part of a promotion for Volkswagen the official automative sponsor of the event. He took off at 7:30 a.m. with the masses for is first marathon and he finished in 3:52:17. He then turned around and ran another 26.2 miles which he completed in 3:57:28. That is a total of over 80Kms in less than 8 hours!! Some more pictures of the event are here. On Saturday afternoon, prior to the marathon, Karnazes spoke at the Expo Main Stage to a large audience and concluded with a future goal: In 2012, he wants to run a marathon in every country in the world----including North Korea and Afghanistan. It’s a lofty goal that will involve an incredible amount of logistical planning not to mention diplomatic cooperation, but given what he has accomplished, it’s one he’s capable of tackling.