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Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner [Paperback]

Dean Karnazes
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (358 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 2, 2006
In one of his most ambitious physical efforts to date, Dean Karnazes attempted to run 50 marathons, in 50 states, in 50 days to raise awareness of youth obesity and urge Americans of all fitness levels to "take that next step."

"UltraMarathon Man: 50 Marathons - 50 States - 50 Days", a Journeyfilm documentary, follows Dean’s incredible step-by-step journey across the country.

Ultrarunning legend Dean Karnazes has run 262 miles-the equivalent of ten marathons-without rest. He has run over mountains, across Death Valley, and to the South Pole-and is probably the first person to eat an entire pizza while running. With an insight, candor, and humor rarely seen in sports memoirs (and written without the aid of a ghostwriter or cowriter), Ultramarathon Man has inspired tens of thousands of people-nonrunners and runners alike-to push themselves beyond their comfort zones and be reminded of "what it feels like to be truly alive," says Sam Fussell, author of Muscle.

Ultramarathon Man answers the questions Karnazes is continually asked:

- Why do you do it?
- How do you do it?
- Are you insane?

And in the new paperback edition, Karnazes answers the two questions he was most asked on his book tour:

- What, exactly, do you eat?
- How do you train to stay in such good shape?

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Editorial Reviews Review

Ultra-marathoner Dean Karnazes claims "There is magic in misery." While it would be easy to write off his habit of running for 100 miles at a time—or longer—as mere masochism, it's impossible to not admire his tenacity in pushing his body to reach one extreme goal after another. Sure, it's gory to read about how he lost one of his big toenails from shoe friction during the Western States Endurance Run. But what registers more is that here's a guy competing in an event that includes 38,000 feet of elevation change--the equivalent of scaling the Empire State Building 30 times.

Despite his considerable athleticism, "Karno" argues that the first half of any race is run with one's body, and the second half with the mind. Without delving into excessively touchy-feely territory, he explores "the possibilities of self" as he completes an ultra-marathon in 120-degree heat in Death Valley, and later the first-ever marathon at the South Pole. It's an odd combination: a California surfer dude contemplating how, as Socrates said, "Suffering leads to wisdom." But Karnazes's self-motivation is utterly intriguing, and it's impossible to read this memoir without wanting to go out and run a marathon yourself.--Erica Jorgensen --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Many would see running a marathon as the pinnacle of their athletic career; thrill-seeker Karnazes didn't just run a marathon, he ran the first marathon held at the South Pole. The conditions were extreme—"breathing the superchilled air directly [without a mask] could freeze your trachea"—yet he craved more. Also on his résumé: completing the Western States 100-mile endurance run and the Badwater 135-mile ultramarathon through Death Valley (which he won), as well as a 199-mile relay race... with only himself on his team. This running memoir (written without a coauthor) paints the picture of an insanely dedicated—some may say just plain insane—athlete. In high school, Karnazes ran cross-country track, but when his favorite coach retired, he quit the sport. Fifteen years later, on his 30th birthday (in 1992), on the verge of an early midlife crisis, he threw on his old shoes and ran 30 miles on a whim. The invigorating feeling compelled him to pursue the world of ultramarathons (any run longer than 26.2 miles). "Never," Karnazes writes, "are my senses more engaged than when the pain sets in." Yet his masochism is a reader's pleasure, and Karnazes's book is intriguing. Casual runners will find inspiration in Karnazes's determination; nonathletes will have the evidence once and for all that runners are indeed a strange breed.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 295 pages
  • Publisher: Tarcher; Reprint edition (March 2, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585424803
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585424801
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (358 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #33,053 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
222 of 261 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A running and marketing sensation August 4, 2006
Dean Karnazes is a phenomenon: frequent guest on television and radio shows; subject of numerous articles and magazine cover shots; regular columnist in Men's Health magazine; popular keynote speaker. Karnazes has been acclaimed in various magazines as perhaps "the fittest man in the world," "the ultimate running specimen," "the quintessential ultramarathoner," an "ultrarunning legend," and "the perfect beast." And it all was kicked off by his best-selling book, Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner.

Karnazes refers to himself as an ordinary person with no special talent, who has performed amazing feats simply by dint of high ambition and unwavering determination.

Karnazes' resolve is indisputable. But he underrates his inherent abilities. His book describes various endurance exploits accomplished as a child and youth, as well as the unusually quick progress he made when he seriously took up long distance running as an adult. These are signs of a person who has exceptional natural stamina. Determination (and even diligent training) alone would not be sufficient to produce his results as an endurance athlete.

Karnazes also has rare energy. He writes of frequently running much of the night during the weekends and then spending active days with his family. He says he often gets by on four hours of sleep per night for extended periods. He tells about running for almost 48 hours straight, covering 200 miles, and then devoting several hours to dash about an amusement park with his kids. Most people could not come close to matching his vitality, no matter how resolute they might be.

While Karnazes may consider himself an ordinary person, he asserts that he is accomplishing things that are extraordinary, even unprecedented.
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78 of 92 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE MAN INTRIGUED ME... March 29, 2005
i read this book in one day after seeing a piece that 60 minutes did on him as well as Dean's female rival. The amazing thing about these two as well as many of the runners who compete in the badwater is that they are not young by any means. I think this is a real inspiration to those of us in our 40's who think that athletics is for the young. if any thing, I think the maturity of Dean and the others is one of their greatest strenghts in running these ultra-marathons. It not only takes enourmous athletic ability, but also incredible discipline to pace yourself and an unbelievable tolerance for pain.

Dean's stories of stopping at the 7-11 store or ordering a pizza while running are hilarious and I did not find him to be sexist in anyway, especially since he was defeated by a woman twice in the badwater run. This is a truly inspiring story not only for athletes, but for people in general as Dean clearly displays that running these races is not all about body it's just as much, if not more, about having a strong mind and will. Something that people can apply in their everyday life.

This really was one of the most inspirational and fulfilling books I've read in quite some time.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I GET IT BUT I REALLY DON'T April 28, 2005
As a marathoner in my mid-40's, I bought this book with great anticipation. Dean takes the reader on a journey through countless miles but somehow the "marathons" stop short. In all honesty, I have survived 186 pages of this extra ordinary mans expose'. What I have been left with is an egotistical, self-serving man on a quest for God knows what. It's one race after another. Never does he tell about his recovery period or a summary of the physical abuse he puts himself through. Dean is rare and God knows he doesn't lack confidence or an ego. Sorry Dean -- I expected so much more!!!!!
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120 of 156 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars About as bad as a book can be February 4, 2006
By William
I have trouble describing how just how bad this book is. Those who have not read it might think that I'm exaggerating. But I owe it to humanity (especially runners) to give it my best shot.

First, to describe the writing as sophomoric would be an act of kindness. Was there no editor? Every character speaks like the same person talking; and they all sound like a Marine from a really bad B movie. Did someone really say, "The name's Rock. At least that's what my friends call me."? Anyway, everyone in the freaking book talks like that. Everyone!

Second, Karnazes makes each of his running endeavors sound like some kind of holy experience in which he turns out to be the god of running. He details his high school running career -- which was really only one season as a freshman cross country runner. He ran one race with the varsity team, but makes it sound like he saved the team (he obviously came in 5th of the runners on his team).

After the cross country season, he was then going to run track, but the track coach laughed at his statement, "I run with my heart." So he quit and "I didn't run again for fifteen years." Huh? One statement from a coach and he didn't run again for 15 years? He didn't even run cross country again the next season?

Third, all credibility is destroyed again and again. For example, the book shows an elevation profile of the Boston Marathon course versus the Western States 100. The problem is that it's not the Boston profile (which is readily accessible from the marathon's website). Later he states that given the "traditional running adage that you need one week of recover for every mile you race", he'd need 14.5 years rest from one summer of racing.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring
They say "It ain't bragging if you've done it". If you can get passed the I did this factor...the book is an awesome read. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Shirzad
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Makes me want to hit the trails!
Published 1 month ago by marlena waid
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Read
Excellent read, story grabs you right a way. Anyone with an interest in running will find this book informative and riveting. Very inspiring.
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book. Very inspirational. Fast read. Great gift too.
Published 1 month ago by Robert Blank
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read; had to put down
Excellent read; had to put down. Super-entertaining, inspiring, and uplifting. Some raters give scathing reviews because of his tone - they say he gloats too much or is full of... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Asahi_
2.0 out of 5 stars An ultramathon of a read...
I gave this book two stars and not one based only on his candor regarding a family tragedy.

Other than that, I struggled to finish this book. Read more
Published 2 months ago by EmRae
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 2 months ago by Thessy Onyenedum
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Amazing read!!! A true inspiration to get out there and get moving:D
Published 2 months ago by Cristina&Georgie
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
One of the best books I have ever read and never gets old! Very motivating!!!
Published 4 months ago by Robert Lowe
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Phenomenal book!
Published 4 months ago by Irene Blalock
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More About the Author

An internationally recognized endurance athlete and New York Times bestselling author, Dean Karnazes ( has pushed his body and mind to inconceivable limits. TIME magazine named him as one of the "Top 100 Most Influential People in the World," Men's Fitness hailed him as the fittest man on the planet and he was the winner of the 2008 ESPY Award for "Best Outdoor Athlete."

Among his many accomplishments, he has run 350 continuous miles, foregoing sleep for three nights. He's run across Death Valley in 120-degree temperatures, and run a marathon to the South Pole in negative 40 degrees. On ten different occasions, he's run a 200-mile relay race solo, racing alongside teams of twelve. His long list of competitive achievements include winning the world's toughest footrace, the Badwater Ultramarathon, running 135 miles nonstop across Death Valley during the middle of summer. His most recent endeavor was running 50 marathons, in all 50 US states, in 50 consecutive days, finishing with the NYC Marathon, which he ran in three hours flat.

As an author, his first book was Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner. His 50-marathon feat was the basis for 50/50: Secrets I Learned Running 50 Marathons in 50 Days -- and How You Too Can Achieve Super Endurance! And on March 1, Rodale Books will publish Run! 26.2 Stories of Blisters and Bliss, Karnazes's new inspirational memoir, told in 26.2 chapters that take readers inside the heart and mind of someone who pushes himself to the limits of physical achievement.

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