Dean Revisited
Trail Runner|September/October 2019
Ultramarathon man Karnazes wont stop. What keeps him going?
By Garett Graubins

Think back to the 2000s, if you can. Different times, right? It was possible to simply show up to trail races the night beforehand and still get in. Heck, in the late 1990s, you could get into the August Leadville Trail 100 in late July. The new reality involves lotteries for race entries and first-come-first-serve sign-ups that fill up in a matter of minutes.

Also nowadays, the sport’s most accomplished athletes are household names, appear in ads and draw thousands of followers online.

If trail running today is in the midst of a golden era, then the 2000s laid the foundation for that to happen. And Dean Karnazes was at the epicenter of that defining decade, and deserves credit forbeing the sport’s Johnny Appleseed.

In 2006, Karnazes’ autobiography, Ultramarathon Man, the story of his journey toward living a healthy life and running long distances, hit bookshelves. A book tour followed— and even appearances on The Today Show, 60 Minutes, The Late Show with David Letterman and othermainstream shows, where Karnazes would often run across the stage in his high-cut running shorts.

Later in 2006, Karnazes launched “The Endurance 50” (E50), his audacious attempt to run 50 marathons in 50 U.S. states in 50 days. Over the course of the attempt, Karnazes ran with tens of thousands of people— many of them covering the distance for their first time. Folks like writer Katie Arnold, who joined him to run a marathon in Albuquerque. If the name sounds familiar, it should—Arnold won the Leadville Trail 100 in 2018.

Says Arnold in The Outside Podcast, “Dean is the real deal and a big part of the story of why I’m here now.”

There are many stories exactly like that one—people are inspired by Karnazes to do more than they ever thought possible. That continues to be Karnazes’ life mission.

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