Dean Karnazes (b. Constantine Karnazes August 23, 1962) (pronounced car-NAH-sis), is an American ultramarathon runner, and author of Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All Night Runner, which details ultra endurance running for the general public. Karnazes has been described as "the world's most famous ultramarathon runner".
At first, Karnazes ran direct routes from school to his home. Later, he began to run diversionary routes that would extend his run and take him into uncharted territory. By third grade he was participating in and organizing short running events with other children. As Karnazes grew older, he began testing his limits: by age eleven he had hiked rim-to-rim across the Grand Canyon and had climbed Mount Whitney, the highest mountain in the contiguous United States; for his 12th birthday, he cycled 40 miles (64 km) to his grandparents' home for fun without telling his parents.
In junior high school, Karnazes met Jack McTavish, a track coach who became Karnazes' mentor and introduced him to the appeal of long-distance running. McTavish's basic running instructions were simple: "Go out hard and finish harder." Using this motto as a basis, that season Karnazes won the one-mile (1.6 km) California State Long-Distance Championship held on the Mt SAC track. At the end of the race, Coach McTavish commented: "Good work son, how'd it feel?" To this Karnazes replied: "Well, going out hard was the right thing to do. It felt pretty good." The coach replied: "If it felt good, you didn't push hard enough. It's supposed to hurt like hell." A week after the race, Karnazes' father's job was transferred to San Clemente. These were the last comments the coach ever said to Karnazes, who has stated that he lives by these words to this day.
In 1976, as a high school freshman, Karnazes joined the cross country team under Benner Cummings. Cummings' running theory was that running is about finding your inner peace; his motto was "run with your heart". That season, Karnazes was awarded "Most Inspirational" team member. Karnazes also ran his first endurance event that year, a fundraising run on a track for underprivileged children, finishing in just under six hours and raising a dollar a lap from his sponsors. While most students ran only 10–15 laps around the track, he ran 105.
Karnazes was not compatible with his high school track coach and stopped running for fifteen years. He resumed running on his 30th birthday with an impromptu all-night, 30-mile (48 km) trek in his underwear and old lawn-mowing shoes.
In 2004, Karnazes was named one of GQ's "Best Bodies of the Year".
He has a family in Marin County, California. He has a wife, a son (Nick, 14), and a daughter (Alex, 18). They attend their public high school.
Racing and endurance highlights
Karnazes has completed a number of endurance events, mostly running events, but also a swimming event. Most notable achievements include:
- Ran 350 miles (560 km) in 80 hours and 44 minutes without sleep in 2005
- Single-handedly completed "The Relay", a 199-mile (320 km) run from Calistoga to Santa Cruz, eleven times
- Ran a marathon to the South Pole in −13 °F (−25 °C) temperatures without snowshoes in 2002
- Ran 50 marathons in all 50 states in 50 consecutive days in 2006
Other athletic achievements include:
- Winner, Badwater Ultramarathon (135 miles (217 km) across Death Valley in 120 °F (49 °C) temperatures), 2004 (with five other top-10 finishes from 2000-2008)
- Winner, Vermont Trail 100 Mile Endurance Run, 2006
- Overall Winner, 4 Deserts Race Series, 2008 
- American Ultrarunning Team, World Championships, 2005, 2008
- 148 miles (238 km) in 24 hours on a treadmill, 2004
- Eleven-time 100-Mile/1 Day Silver Buckleholder at the Western States Endurance Run (i.e., better than ten twenty-four-hour finishes), 1995–2006
- Ran 3,000 miles (4,800 km) across the United States from Disneyland to New York City in 75 days, running 40 to 50 miles per day, 2011
- Swimming across the San Francisco Bay
Other honors include:
- Two-time Emmy Award winner, 2005, 2007
- Competitor magazine Endurance Athlete of the Year Award winner, 2008, 2006, 2005
- ESPN ESPY Award winner, “Best Outdoor Athlete”, 2007
- Men's Journal, Adventure Hall of Fame, 2005
- Outside magazine, Ultimate Top 10 Outdoor Athletes, 2004
50 marathons in 50 states on 50 consecutive days
In 2006, Karnazes embarked on the well-publicized Endurance 50: 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 consecutive days. Beginning with the Lewis and Clark Marathon in St. Louis on September 17, 2006, it finished with the New York City Marathon on November 5. Eight of the 50 races were conventional marathons. Since marathon races are typically held only on weekends, on the other days Karnazes (accompanied by between one and 50 runners) ran the course of a marathon in each state using the help of the race director and staff of each event to officially run the certified course, but on a different day than the “live” event. (For example, as part of the 50/50/50, Karnazes ran the official course of the Boston Marathon, but not the race itself, which is held in mid-April.)
Karnazes overcame the endurance and logistical difficulties of this goal and finished the final marathon, the NYC Marathon, on the official race day in 3 hours and 30 seconds. He weighed 154 lbs at the start and 153 lbs at the end.
After finishing the 50/50/50, Karnazes decided to run home to San Francisco from New York City. He was expected to finish the trip in January 2007. However Karnazes chose to end this trek December 15, 2006, in St. Charles, Missouri, to spend more time with his family.
The adventure was the primary subject of film director JB Benna's 2008 film entitled UltraMarathon Man: 50 Marathons - 50 States - 50 Days, which was the first feature film about Karnazes. The film was produced by Journeyfilm, had a national theatrical release in 300 screens in 2008 and was released on DVD and Blu-ray in 2009.
A similar project, undertaken by Sam Thompson to raise money for victims of Hurricane Katrina, was finishing as Karnazes began his project. Thompson ran 51 marathons (all 50 states and D.C.) in 50 days.
- Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner, Tarcher (March 2, 2006) ISBN 978-1-58542-480-1
- 50/50: Secrets I Learned Running 50 Marathons in 50 Days (with Matt Fitzgerald) Grand Central Publishing (August 12, 2009) ISBN 978-0-446-58184-4
- Run: 26.2 Stories of Blisters and Bliss, Rodale (March 1, 2011) ISBN 978-1-60529-279-3. Winner of British Sports Book Awards, Best Publicity Campaign
In 1995, Karnazes founded Energy Well Natural Foods in San Francisco and he remains president of the company, now called Good Health Natural Foods. He holds graduate degrees in Science and Business. Karnazes resides in Ross, California, with his wife, Julie, and two children, Alexandria and Nicholas. Karnazes is also a regular columnist for Men's Health.
Dean was featured in the August 19, 2010 episode "Ultra Marathon Man" of Stan Lee's Superhumans documentary television series where it was shown that Dean is able to somehow keep his lactic acid level from building up, actually reducing and maintaining the reduction over long periods of time.
- Run 100s biography
- Karnazes, Dean (2006). Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All Night Runner. Penguin. ISBN 1-58542-278-9.
- Sheff, David (October 19, 2006). "He's Still Running Out There Somewhere". New York Times. Retrieved January 31, 2011.
- Gorney, Cynthia. Dean Karnazes Is On The Road...Again Runner's World. August 29, 2006. Retrieved March 9, 2011.
- Far Out Retrieved 2013-04-17.
- ""Team Dean" Returns to Ultramaraton Man form for Eleventh Solo Run" (Press release). 2009-03-01.
- South Pole Marathon Retrieved 2013-04-17.
- Badwater Ultramarathon Race Results, 2000 to the present Retrieved 2013-04-17.
- Vermont 100 Endurance Race 2006 Results Retrieved 2013-04-17.
- 4 Deserts Champions Retrieved 2013-04-17.
- Chapman Logic
- Western States Endurance Run recordholders
- Moore, Frazier (10 May 2011). "Dean Karnazes' run across America ends in victory". San Francisco Chronicle.
- "Dean Karnazes comes to Stratford, Texas". Stratford, Texas: Stratford Police Department. 23 March 2011.
- Retrieved 2009-06-15.
- Dean Karnazes; Matt Fitzgerald (Aug 2008). 50/50 Secrets I Learned Running 50 Marathons in 50 Days. Wellness Central. ISBN 978-0-446-58183-7. page 250
- Dean Karnazes; Matt Fitzgerald (Aug 2008). 50/50 Secrets I Learned Running 50 Marathons in 50 Days. Wellness Central. ISBN 978-0-446-58183-7. page 267
- Elliott, Helene, LA Times, December 21, 2006
- "Marathon & Beyond - The web site for marathoners and ultrarunners". Marathonandbeyond.com. 2006-08-15. Retrieved 2013-05-15.
- "Prior winners". British Sports Book Awards. Retrieved November 27, 2012.
- Wilson, Sara, On the Run: Pushing limits in business and life keeps the ultramarathon man going., Entrepreneur, March 2006
- Anderson, Lessley, Ultra Marathon Man, SF Weekly, January 14, 2004
- Dunleavy, Kelly (22 February 2011). "U-Top-It and Dean Karnazes to be on Regis and Kelly". Patch Media.
- Ultramarathon man: Dean Karnazes - Official web site for Dean Karnazes
- Dean Karnazes Interview - Midsection Training