Sunday, September 17

Endurance 50

Dean Karnazes has done some amazing things during his forty-three years of life. Somehow this San Francisco businessman, husband, and father of two has found time in his busy schedule to set virtually every long-distance running record imaginable. He has won all the big ultras--up and down the mountains of the brutal Western States 100-Miler and through the withering heat of the Badwater 135-Miler; across the crushing crests of the Vermont 100-Miler and across the barren wasteland of the Antarctica Marathon. Once he ran 350 miles straight--over the course of three days and two nights--without stopping! No wonder he has earned the moniker of the “ultra-marathon man,” which not coincidentally is the title of his New York Times best-selling autobiography.

Beginning today, Karnazes tackles his toughest challenge yet: 50 marathons in 50 days in all 50 states. Really! 50 in 50 in 50! Over the course of those 50 days, Karnazes plans to run 1,310 miles at about a 10-minute per mile pace--burning over 150,000 calories. I honestly don’t see how such a feat is possible. But then, I really don’t see how it is possible for a human being to do what he has already done.

During the course of the North Face Endurance 50 Karnazes will tackle some of the most famous marathon routes all across the US. Today for example, he runs the Lewis & Clark Marathon in St. Louis. Tomorrow, he will be in Tennessee to run the St. Jude Memphis Marathon in Memphis. Then on Tuesday, he’ll be in Mississippi for the Mississippi Coast Marathon. Wednesday brings him to Arkansas for the Little Rock Marathon. Next, he’ll be in Kansas for the Wichita Marathon. Then it is to Iowa for the Des Moines Marathon on Friday. On Saturday, he will be in Omaha, Nebraska for the Lincoln Marathon. Then on Sunday, he runs the Boulder Backroads Marathon in Colorado.

And that is just week one! He will then criss-cross the entire country in a tour bus running 26.2 miles day after day for six more weeks!

Along the way, he’ll run in the LaSalle Bank Marathon in Chicago and the Boston Marathon from Hopkinton to Boylston Street. Finally, he will finish in New York City on November with the ING New York Marathon.

Now of course, these big marathons are run on weekends. So, Karnazes is not running in the actual organized races during the next month and a half of Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Instead, he will run the official race routes those days--along with runners in each city who have volunteered to pace him along the way. During the weekends though, he will have the opportunity to run in the actual marathons.

In the process, Karnazes will be supporting running clubs and runners across the nation and raising funds for a non-profit organization he founded to support, encourage and motivate youth to get outside and become more physically active. He hopes to make marathon running, the ultimate individual sport, a symbol of what people can achieve if they aspire to explore their personal limits.

However you cut it, Karnazes is doing something more than a little remarkable. Its enough to inspire us ordinary Joes to tie on our trainers and head out around the block a couple of times. You can visit either my Run Blog or the official Endurance 50 website to follow Karnazes' progress.


Lawrence Underwood said...

And I thought that I was pushing my self this morning on my run. . .

Dean is an amazing man. I have a friend who is an ultramarathoner. He is a rock, but says that Karnazes is so fit and driven, and yet so humble that he is almost Biblical. (His phrasing.)

Now, if I only didn't have to work Tuesday I'd be in Waveland.

Diane V. said...


The Vaughan clan was sad to hear that you weren't going to be able to run with this extraordinary "ultra-marathon man" due to your recent illness. We hope you are feeling better and able to catch some inspiration for your next running endeavor as you follow Karnazes' progress!

Diane V. said...

How surprising to hear you actually ran the first half of that Memphis marathon with Karnazes! Way to go! The Vaughan clan was happy to hear that your sickness didn't get the best of you afterall!

gileskirk said...

Diane: Thank you. It really was a blast--though I confess I over-did it a bit. Karnazes is a pretty remarkable guy, a very devoted family man, and a gracious Christian. I loved getting to know him, his dad, his mom, and his kids (his wife is a practicing dentist and is only joining the rest of them on weekends). Thank you for praying for me and for cheering me on.

Sira Birac said...

Dr. Grant: In the triathloning community, Karnazes is a real hero. Thank you for bringing his efforts to the attentions of the wider Christian community. It is so gratifying to have a major international Reformed leader like you able to bridge so many different worlds. You are such an inspiration to live out what you write about in such books as The Micah Mandate and Going Somewhere.

Jen Rose said...

You never cease to amaze and inspire. Thank you.