It’s very hard to label Dean Karnazes as anything but a ‘Man of Action’. It is astounding to read about some of the feats he has achieved, which caught our eye this week in the UK’s Metro. He reminded us of The Wild Geese, who turned away from oppression in 1691, leaving Ireland in the hope of Freedom. In their pursuit, they accomplished some extraordinary things in communities throughout the world.
Karnazes has pushed the limits of his body, discovering that he was capable of. In 2004 he won the Badwater Basin, which is a 135 mile course that includes an extremely tough elevation. It’s described as ‘the most demanding and extreme running race offered’ starting at Badwater, Death Valley, which marks the lowest elevation in the Western hemisphere at 280′ (85m) below sea level; and finishing at the Mt. Whitney Portals at nearly 8,300′ (2530m). But this is only a drop in the ocean of challenges Karnazes has placed in front of him.
In September 2006, Karnazes started a mammoth challenge – 50 marathons in 50 States on 50 consecutive days. Starting in St. Louis, and ending with the New York City Marathon in November. He completed the New York Marathon in 3 hours 30 seconds, and then decided to run home – back across the country to San Francisco. This epic journey was the subject of a 2008 film. You can take a sneak peak below. It’s both touching and inspiring to see the effect Karnazes’ challenges have had on people.
He decided to end his run home early, in St. Charles, Missouri so that he could spend time with his family, but took up this challenge again earlier this year. Starting at Disney World in California on February 22nd, Karnazes crossed his finish line in Manhattan, New York over two months later on May 10th.
Speaking to the Metro, Karnazes explained that he’s ‘curious to see what the limits of human endurance are and how far the human body can go‘. He’s been named as number 27 on Time Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2007 and Wired Magazine has described him as ‘The Perfect Human’.
While Karnazes is certainly worthy of these accolades, we can’t help but feel that they somehow miss the point. Karnazes wasn’t searching for perfection (at least not originally).
‘I was working as a marketing executive and felt like a caged animal. My life was boring and there were no challenges left. It was on my 30th birthday when I was drunk in a bar that I suddenly had the idea to run 30 miles to reclaim my life. So, I left the bar, took off my pants and started running in my briefs and a pair of plimsolls‘.
Karnazes was in search of a sense of Freedom – the ability to choose and be in self-control – and literally chased this dream, along the way accomplishing remarkable feats and inspiring others. A true Man of Action.