Saturday, February 11, 2006

Ultra Marathon Man - Karnazes

Dean Karnazes is an ultra endurance athlete. Karnazes runs ultra marathons – races longer than a marathon’s 26.2 miles.

Karnazes book, Ultramarathon Man, is largely a narration of five events:

a successful fifty miler in the foothills east of Sacramento;

a Western States Endurance Run – a 100 miler that starts at Squaw Valley, the home of the 1960 Winter Olympic Games and ends in Auburn, California and includes 38,000 feet in elevation change;

a failed Bad Water ultra marathon that starts in Death Valley and ends at the trail head for Mt. Whitney 135 miles from the start – although Karnazes failed his first attempt, he went on to successfully complete this event in subsequent years;

a “first marathon” at the South Pole;

and a 199 miler that started in Calistoga (Napa Valley, California) and ended on the beach in Santa Cruz.

I found the topic fascinating and the book worth reading. Unfortunately, Karnaze apparently wrote the book without a professional ghost writer.

My greatest criticism is the author’s desire that the reader believe he is a wonderful husband and father, being there for his family despite his training and racing. His admissions disprove this notion, including when he focused on training for his first 100 miler while his wife studied for dental board exams and then ran the race while she wrote boards. Later, he spent three weeks at the South Pole with little communication with his family possible while he risked his life to run the first marathon at the bottom of the world. And of course, every runner realizes that training, even for a marathon distance, requires a tremendous amount of time. Karnazes is an incredible athlete, but he is also incredibly self-absorbed.

Three stars.

No comments:

Personal Blogs - Blog Top Sites