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 Karnazes To Attempt 50 Marathons In 50 Days
Submitted by Rickshaw :: Mon Mar 27, 2006 11:31 am
Ultramarathon legend Dean Karnazes is shooting for a new endurance first: 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days. Sponsored by the North Face, the "Endurance 50" is scheduled to begin September 17 with the Lewis and Clark Marathon in St. Charles, Missouri. To succeed, the 42-year-old Karnazes will need to cover 183.4 miles per week for 7 weeks, an extremely daunting challenge. For more on his preparations, check out www.thenorthface.com/theendurance50 (warning: bloated Flash animations).


Rickshaw
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Re: Karnazes To Attempt 50 Marathons In 50 Days Posted: Mon Mar 27, 2006 11:44 am 

Karnazes is undoubtedly an extremely accomplished ultra-endurance runner. I read his book "Ultramarathon Man" last year, and was definitely impressed by some of his more hard-core accomplishments, like his South Pole marathon (not an Antarctica marathon on a semi-temperate coastal plain) and his run of the Western States 100 course through the high Sierras in the middle of winter.

I have to say, though, I don't think even he can pull this off. 183 miles per week for 7 weeks? Even the world's best endurance runners normally "only" run in the low 100's per week. Granted, that's probably with plenty of hard workouts, so if Karnazes does everything at an easy pace, he may be able to handle a little more mileage. A 183 mile per week average, though? My prediction is that he gets injured and has to abandon at least one marathon prior to the 20th one.


Rickshaw
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Re: Karnazes To Attempt 50 Marathons In 50 Days Posted: Mon Mar 27, 2006 12:23 pm 

After doing some research, it seems I was too skeptical. Karnazes only needs to cover 26.2 miles per day. Lots of people have done much more impressive ultra feats than this. Check out ultra runner David Horton: http://www.extremeultrarunning.com/dhhist.htm

1991 Appalachian Trail: 2144 miles in 52 days = 41 miles per day
1995 Transcontinental Run: 2906 miles in 64 days = 45 miles per day
2005 Pacific Crest Trail: 2666 miles in 66 days = 40 miles per day

Wow. Wow.


Bricks
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
Chicago
Joined: 09 Dec 2004
Posts: 222

Re: Karnazes To Attempt 50 Marathons In 50 Days Posted: Mon Mar 27, 2006 1:43 pm 

yeah, i think this isn't even going to be in the top 5 hardest things he's done. he does marathons for breakfast. i suspect once he gets in a groove and adapts his already ridiculous daily routine to this task, there'll be no stopping him. if he gets through the first week, the last 6 will be a formality. he never gets injured and runs slow enough on these ventures that he should be able to handle it. he runs for days at a time, covering hundereds of miles in one pop. so getting to sleep every night, eat properly, and spread out the miles over a week i don't suspect will be a problem for him. i could even see him doubling-up a few times doing 52.4 at the end of one day/state and the beginning of the next.

Bricks
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
Chicago
Joined: 09 Dec 2004
Posts: 222

Re: Karnazes To Attempt 50 Marathons In 50 Days Posted: Mon Mar 27, 2006 1:43 pm 

on a related topic, i heard his paperback of that book is out now and has an epilogue containing details on his diet and nutrition regimen. has anyone seen it yet?

Bricks
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
Chicago
Joined: 09 Dec 2004
Posts: 222

Re: Karnazes To Attempt 50 Marathons In 50 Days Posted: Mon Mar 27, 2006 1:48 pm 

i just looked at the website... did he actually find 50 'official' marathons that fall on all of those days? I didn't think that was possible... is there that many weekday marathons?... or is he just running those routes?

Rickshaw
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Re: Karnazes To Attempt 50 Marathons In 50 Days Posted: Mon Mar 27, 2006 2:50 pm 

Some of them are real marathons on the right dates, but I assume most of the weekday ones are just 26.2 mile runs over the course of a marathon race that's contested on a different day. The Boston Marathon certainly isn't in October, for example, as it's listed on the Endurance 50 site.

Rustyboy

LA, CA
Joined: 14 Dec 2004
Posts: 225

Re: Karnazes To Attempt 50 Marathons In 50 Days Posted: Mon Mar 27, 2006 4:39 pm 

There is a lot of speculation in the ultrarunning world about Karnazes. Not to say that what he does isn't absolutely amazing, but he does tend to exaggerate a little bit about his feats and what he's going to accomplish. Some ultrarunners flat-out dislike him for his PR machine-driven career, but I side with the viewpoint that at least he's bringing attention to ultras, even if he isn't the be-all end-all ultra runner out there.

This guy:

www.scottjurek.com

is machine. He obliterated the Western States 100 mile record a few years ago, has won that race *7 times* in a row, and last year, two weeks after winning Western States, smashed the course record at the Badwater 135 mile desert race (www.badwater.com) by 3 + hours.

All of these elites are un-freakin'-believable.


mfox

South Orange, New Jersey
Joined: 19 Dec 2004
Posts: 367

Re: Karnazes To Attempt 50 Marathons In 50 Days Posted: Mon Mar 27, 2006 6:29 pm 

Dean has certainly proven he can run high milage day after day as you point out with the list of accomplishments over the Appalacian Trail, Transcontinental, and Pacific Crest Trail. But I believe he was spending an average of 10+ hours a day to cover those distances. Much of that was required to cover the rocky terrain and the many ascents and descents. In other words, much of the trails are not conducive to running. But still, he had a lot of time each day to get 40+ miles in.

Now, if he takes that much time to do these marathons then I expect it will be a cake walk. Each day will be nearly half the distance on much better terrain. So, it's not all that imrpessive compared to what he has already accomplished. BUT, if he were to run all of these marathons in say under 4 hours...well then now that might be a challenge.

As running a marathon is much more than twice the difficulting of running a 1/2 marathon, I suspect that running a marathon in under 4 hours each day would be more difficult than running 40 miles in 10 hours. Running faster over a shorter distance can put much more stress on your body then going longer at a slower pace.

So...the question here is, just how fast will he run these marathons?


Rickshaw
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Re: Karnazes To Attempt 50 Marathons In 50 Days Posted: Mon Mar 27, 2006 9:22 pm 

Actually the Appalachian Trail and those other accomplishments you mentioned were not Dean's, but another ultra runner, David Horton. But the point it well taken. If someone can cover an average of 40+ miles per day over difficult, hilly trails, then 26 miles over relatively level paved roads should be no problem. That's not to say that I could do it myself, but there are probably lots of other ultra runners who could do this 50 marathons in 50 days thing. They just don't have the knack for self-promotion that Karnazes has.

mfox

South Orange, New Jersey
Joined: 19 Dec 2004
Posts: 367

Re: Karnazes To Attempt 50 Marathons In 50 Days Posted: Tue Mar 28, 2006 6:19 am 

Ah right you are. It was David's accomplishments I was think of. I've read about David's run across the Appalachian Trail and about a few others who have tried to beat his record but failed due to stress injuries that slowed them down and thus made the record unreachable.

So...on second thought. Maybe Dean has his work cut out for him. He's definitely done well at long endurace events in which he kept going for an extended period of time. In this case, he's going to be stopping and going repeatedly. I'd be interested in knowing how he plans to recover after each day's run to minimize the typical muscle and joint inflamation that will have time to set in after each run. Perhaps if he runs each marathon slowly he'll be able to reduce the effects enough to make recovery easier...or managable.


Rickshaw
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Re: Karnazes To Attempt 50 Marathons In 50 Days Posted: Tue Mar 28, 2006 11:32 am 

Jurek seems like an interesting guy. I knew he'd been dominating the Western States 100, but I didn't know he won Badwater too. I saw something on TV about him after one of his first Western States win. If I recall, he was working as a cashier in a health food store, and living in a little apartment with his wife. It's funny and sad to think of the sport's best athletes just scraping by financially. Imagine if Tiger Woods worked at a car wash between golf tournaments. Hopefully Jurek has built up enough of a name for himself that he's a little better off now financially.

Another interesting thing about Jurek is that if I remember correctly, he's vegetarian. I think he may even be vegan (no cheese, milk, or eggs either). That automatically catches me interest, since I'm also vegetarian, and the conventional wisdom seems to be that athletes need plenty of meat to get adequate protein.


Rustyboy

LA, CA
Joined: 14 Dec 2004
Posts: 225

Re: Karnazes To Attempt 50 Marathons In 50 Days Posted: Tue Mar 28, 2006 5:19 pm 

Yup, Jurek is vegan, which boggles the mind, considering what he does and for how long he does it. I believe he is now a physical therapist, but how he balances his training and physical therapy is beyond me.

I've actually had the pleasure of speaking with him recently about a possible project that I'm prepping that would feature him (fingers crossed). He's incredibly nice and generous. At the finish line of Western States, he's known for waiting until the last runner crosses, cheering everyone on.


Rickshaw
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Re: Karnazes To Attempt 50 Marathons In 50 Days Posted: Tue Mar 28, 2006 5:25 pm 

Cool, what's the project? Or is it top secret? :-)

Rustyboy

LA, CA
Joined: 14 Dec 2004
Posts: 225

Re: Karnazes To Attempt 50 Marathons In 50 Days Posted: Tue Mar 28, 2006 6:14 pm 

Ha! It's hardly top secret. I'm just so incredibly superstitious, I don't want to curse a possibly good thing...

If you all don't already know, I'm a writer/producer, and I work a lot with a friend of mine who owns a small production company. We got wind from our agent that Fox Sports is looking for "reality tv" programming, so I pitched the idea to document Scott's try to shatter his Badwater recrod from last year.

I contacted Scott, and he responded immediately, I explained the concept, and he's into it. We're just waiting to see if Fox Sports wants to even hear the pitch idea.

Seriously, it's the most exciting prospect of my horribly boring TV career. I mean, how many MTV specials can one man produce?


Rickshaw
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Re: Karnazes To Attempt 50 Marathons In 50 Days Posted: Thu Mar 30, 2006 9:56 am 

Cool! If you do make the show, you'll need to insert some subliminal Runworks ads. :-)

You may be on to something with your idea, actually. The PBS series NOVA is working on a documentary (public reality TV?) about non-runners who train for and run the Boston Marathon. They'll create a training program for these marathon newbies, and then follow their progress over a period of months, up to (hopefully) racing Boston next April.

Personally, I'd be interested in a TV version of the book Running with the Buffaloes or something similar. It would be interesting to just hang out with some top athletes, and observe how they train, eat, and play. I don't know if the general public would find it very exciting, though.


OldManRunner
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
Rochester, NY
Joined: 28 Nov 2004
Posts: 262

Re: Karnazes To Attempt 50 Marathons In 50 Days Posted: Thu Mar 30, 2006 4:35 pm 

When's the NOVA series supposed to begin airing? Not until close to Boston '07? And I agree with you about a series that would follow the training of top endurance athletes. They've got FIT TV now and maybe some other health and fitness channels, along with OLN that might have the sort of viewer profile that could support such a thing. OLN's sort of done some things along this line with following the trevails of the non-Lance Armstrong members of his Discovery Channel team. I can't remember the exact name of the show.

Rustyboy

LA, CA
Joined: 14 Dec 2004
Posts: 225

Re: Karnazes To Attempt 50 Marathons In 50 Days Posted: Thu Mar 30, 2006 7:46 pm 

Rickshaw wrote:
Cool! If you do make the show, you'll need to insert some subliminal Runworks ads. :-)


Ha! Yes, every 30 miles during Badwater, I'll have Scott look into the camera and say, "I would rather be surfing runworks.com right now!"

Interesting special on NOVA. Thanks for the info!


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