Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Ultrarunner Dean Karnazes to share his remarkable story in Portsmouth |

Ultrarunner Dean Karnazes to share his remarkable story in Portsmouth |

By Bob Wiles
September 28, 2011 2:00 AM
Earlier this year, ultrarunner Dean Karnazes ran from California to New York, covering almost 3,000 miles in 75 days and raising $178,000 for anti-obesity charity Action for Healthy Kids. In 2006, he ran 50 marathons in 50 days, one in each state. Karnazes has also ran across the five greatest deserts on the planet, and he's accomplished countless other mind-boggling endurance running feats.

Through it all, Karnazes has never lost his joy for running. It's his job and race-specific training can be a grind at times, but he keeps it fresh.

"Sometimes if I need a mental and physical recovery day, I'll just throw my credit card and a cell phone in my backpack and go out wandering for a six- or eight-hour run," Karnazes said. "If I feel like stopping at a coffee shop along the way, I do. I don't worry about pace, I just go exploring. I never run the same route twice."

On Wednesday, Oct. 5, Karnazes will speak at The Music Hall in Portsmouth as part of The North Face "Never Stop Exploring" speaker series. Runner's Alley is also a presenter of the event.

Karnazes' motivational talks are fascinating and inspirational. Through his epic adventures, he has experienced life to the fullest and continued to find happiness out on the roads and trails of America and beyond.

When he speaks about the joy of running, the sincerity and enthusiasm easily sneaks into his relaxed southern California voice, "When you see kids running, they are experiencing joy and being free. They love to race and run fast, and they learn to find joy along the way."

During his Run Across America, Karnazes stopped at 15 schools to speak with children and inspire them to lead active lifestyles and never stop exploring. "Stopping to speak to a group of children right after running 40 miles was an interesting juxtaposition mentally, but their excitement was always unbelievable," he said.

Karnazes started running at age 6 as an easier way to get back and forth from school to help his mom. "I fell in love with running and have continued to explore and push the boundaries," he said.

The thought of running for six or eight hours to help recovery seems insane to most runners, but Karnazes has built his body into an ultrarunning machine over the years. His bones and muscles have adapted to requirements of his activities, and his body's ability to clear lactic acid has baffled scientists. But Karnazes believes that our bodies were designed for running and that by being very active at an early age we can stay strong and help avoid injuries.

In addition to the amazing sights he's seen along the way, Karnazes has also met some amazing people. On day 67 of his 75-day run across America, Karnazes literally ran into the White House to meet Michelle Obama. The two of them teamed up to promote "Let's Move," the first lady's campaign to raise a healthier generation of kids.

Not content to just run across his home country, Karnazes is currently planning a global expedition in conjunction with his 50th birthday next year. "The United Nations recognized 204 countries, and my goal is to run a marathon in each of them."

With a focus on raising money for an important cause in each country, Karnazes hopes political differences among nations can be set aside. "Running unites people," he said. "Some countries will use the money to create clean water systems or to fight malaria and others might focus on anti-obesity programs."

Karnazes ran a marathon in Bristol in 2006 during his Endurance 50 and noticed that New England is a beautiful place. "I'm hoping that the leaves have started changing when I'm in New Hampshire next week."

"We're super excited to have Dean coming to Portsmouth," Runner's Alley owner Jeanine Sylvester said. "Dean is such an inspirational and well-known figure, and we are very happy to be able to share his story with the Seacoast running community."

Proceeds from ticket sales will go to the Portsmouth Track Boosters Club, Sylvester said.

Bob Wiles lives in Kittery, Maine. He can be reached at

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