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Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner Hardcover – March 17, 2005
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
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 timeor longeras 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
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.
Top customer reviews
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The most I have ever run in my life was 3 miles. And that was when I participated in a 3k race.
After reading a 1/3 of the book, around 11pm, I just went out and ran 4 miles.
Two days later, after reading another 1/3 of the book, I went outside and ran 6 miles.
Two days later, after finished the book, I went outside, and like Forest Gump, I ran 12 miles.
At times, I had to walk, and there were a few times when I felt like I was crawling.
The quote from the book, "When you can't run, walk. When you can't walk, crawl" continued to echo in my mind.
The narration is very engaging and I enjoyed reading it.
After this book, I read Born to Run by Chris McDougall. And while I did enjoy that book as well, Chris does take a few shots at Dean Karnazes. And so does Scott Jurek. There seems to be some resentment within the ultra community re: the amount of publicity and recognition that Dean has been receiving. I'm not aware of all that but all I know is that this book in itself, has inspired me to run again and that's all that matters.
Do not read this book to learn how to run, to learn how to run further, or to learn about the history of ultramarathons. Read it because it's fun, and because, even if you're a crazy guy going through your own mid-life crisis through athletic endeavours, he'll probably make you feel relatively normal. (Take it from me).
It's a light read - 269 pages in the paperback - and I read it faster than I ran my first marathon (and, not coincidentally, on the same day....)
Overall, it's a good read. Don't expect any training, eating or workout plans but then, I didn't have any expectations so again, it's a good read. I'm starting to read his 50/50 in which Dean conquered 50 marathons in 50 states within 50 days.
Most recent customer reviews
I can rewrite this book in 10 pages and no reader will miss anything from this book.Read more