Book Review: “RUN!” by Dean Karnazes

My cat reads with me.

My cat reads with me.

I’ve been on a Dean kick!! Once you get started, there’s no turning back!

In the last couple of months, I’ve learned a lot about Dean Karnazes the ultra running legend. I read the Road to Sarta book, watched Desert Runners and I just got the movie “Ultramarathon man: 50 Marathons, 50 states, in 50 Days” on NetFlix DVD (which I did a book review on a long time ago and It turns out I’ve already seen the movie…I realized after I linked the post).

Anyway, I found and read “RUN! 26.2 Stories of Blisters and Bliss.” I love that this book’s chapters are broken down like that of a marathon, including a pre-run stretch and recovery!

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“RUN!” is a collection of short stories by Dean, from his friends, his wife, and his children. There’s even a chapter on funny race signs he’s seen. This book gives us side stories from events we have already seen or read about and a more candid look at Dean’s life. I love this aspect. It makes him seem more real and human rather than the running machine I picture.

My favorite story is either the one about carrying the Olympic torch or when he goes on The Regis and Kelly Show to break the world record for longest run on a treadmill (he met Obama before he was president and because he has vaseline on his hand, he fist bumped him!). I also really love the letter from his wife; it was super sweet and a good view from his family.

I definitely recommend this book to any Dean Karnazes fan. If you’ve never read anything by him before, I suggest starting with his other books.


I checked mine out from the library but you can find it on Amazon HERE:

(Blog Related) Movie Review – Desert Runners

My blog is not turning into a book or movie review blog but I do like to tell you about things that are related to my blog’s theme. Periodically I’ll review running, outdoorsy, fitness, or travel books and movies.

Being on a Dean Karnazes kick, there was mention somewhere (maybe I saw it on his website) about the movie “Desert Runners.” I think I might have misunderstood because I thought the movie was about him doing the desert marathons. It’s not. While he does have a 30-minute segment in the special features, the movie follows four people as they prepare and attempt the Grand Slam of the Desert Ultramarathons.


mv5bmtk4ntaznjizn15bml5banbnxkftztcwmzy3nzu2oq-_v1_ux182_cr00182268_al_“A diverse cast of non-professional runners attempt to complete the most-difficult ultramarathon race series on Earth. Their dramatic journey takes them across the World’s most picturesque yet brutal landscapes, pushing their bodies, hearts and spirits through a myriad of external and internal obstacles. DESERT RUNNERS delves into the mindset of ultra-athletes, and the complex ways in which human beings deal with both heartbreak and triumph.” – IMDB

The Desert Ultramarathon Series is comprised of four ultramarathons through the world’s toughest, most brutal deserts. The Grand Slam means doing all four in a single year. Each race is 250 km and takes 5 days. You are required to carry a backpack with all the items you need. Although I don’t have any desire right now to do an ultra race,  these events seem very appealing when it comes to the camaraderie and outdoors aspect. The fact that you spread out the 250 mile between five day and ou get to travel, on foot, into parts of the world not many get to see – that is all what makes these races look cool.

I really did enjoy the movie (except the part where they show the camera all their feet and disgusting foot ailments – I hate feet). It was very interesting and inspirational. My favorite “character” is the woman Samantha who was the youngest person and first woman to get a grand slam title. She overcomes a very scary situation, perseveres and continues on.

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The extras with the film were almost more enjoyable than the film itself. The film director and cinematographer interviews are super interesting because they had to be in just as good of shape as the athletes to get all of the footage. There’s also an interview with Dean Karnazes about how he prepared for his grand slam (the first to do so) as well as fun view on how to pack your bag for a race like these!

I highly recommend this movie to any ultra runner, or any runner for that matter, if you’re looking for a run-spirational movie (see what I did there?).


Not available on streaming or DVD rental via Netflix, so I checked out my version from the library. The version I watched was the Director’s Special Edition and had the extra content including the interview with Dean Karnazes. You can find it for purchase on Amazon (affiliate link):

Visit the Desert Runner Website

About the races


Your turn: Have you heard of this race series? Done any of them? Would you do one of them??

Book Review: “The Road to Sparta” by Dean Karnazes

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“If you want to run, run a mile. If you want to experience a different life, run a marathon. If you want to talk to God, run an ultra.”

I am far from an ultra runner. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ll never do one. Although, I’m a firm believer in “never say never” (thanks, Fievel! Did anyone get that? Anyone!??) but right now an ultra marathon sounds ridiculous. I have, however, always been a fan of Dean Karnazes. His story inspires me and the way he can run and push himself for hundreds of miles is beyond my comprehension. So, when I saw a new book on the front shelf of the library, I immediately picked it up and checked it out.

51g9zn4eiml-_sx324_bo1204203200_“The Road to Sparta” is the story of the 153-mile run from Athens to Sparta that inspired the marathon and saved democracy, as told―and experienced―by ultramarathoner and New York Times bestselling author Dean Karnazes.

“In 490 BCE, Pheidippides ran for 36 hours straight from Athens to Sparta to seek help in defending Athens from a Persian invasion in the Battle of Marathon. In doing so, he saved the development of Western civilization and inspired the birth of the marathon as we know it. Even now, some 2,500 years later, that run stands enduringly as one of greatest physical accomplishments in the history of mankind. 

Karnazes personally honors Pheidippides and his own Greek heritage by recreating this ancient journey in modern times. Karnazes even abstains from contemporary endurance nutrition like sports drinks and energy gels and only eats what was available in 490 BCE, such as figs, olives, and cured meats. Through vivid details and internal dialogs, The Road to Sparta offers a rare glimpse into the mindset and motivation of an extreme athlete during his most difficult and personal challenge to date. This story is sure to captivate and inspire―whether you run great distances or not at all.”


I absolutely loved this book!  I have read many of Dean’s books (all but one) and always enjoy his writing, but this was by far my favorite.

He combines his own personal journey, not only to discover his heritage but also his journey to running the Spartathlon, a 150+ mile race from Greece to Sparta. Mixed in with ancient Greek history of Pheidippides, and you’ve got a great read!

SPOILER ZONE AHEAD:
I learned a lot from reading this book. Things I had never really known before. I learned that Pheidippides’ journey of 26 miles was not even the half of what he did. Before the famous 26 miles, he had run 150 to Sparta and then again back to Greece! No wonder he collapsed and died upon delivering the great news of the Persian defeat!

Besides getting a history fix, I think what I liked the best about this book is that Dean doesn’t write about winning a race. Him doing the Spartathon isn’t about a race he has to win. It’s more about finding out where he (his family) came from and discovering what his ancestors might have gone through. He doesn’t end up winning. He pushes himself to the brink, the edge, of where his body can go to reach that finish line and says “I had set out to find Pheidippides, and in the process found myself.”
END SPOILERS

I highly recommend this book to people who love running and history. Fans of Dean Karnazes most definitely should pick up this book. It’s an easy, quick read that will satisfy any runner’s curiosity of the guy that forever changed the world of running (both Pheidippides and Karnazes).

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My Cat liked it too.


Find it on Goodreads.

Pick up a copy yourself (affiliate link):

Movie and Book Review – “UltraMarathon Man”

First off let me just say that I LOVE Dean Karnazes. He’s probably my favorite running persona and athlete. He’s a great role model and does great things for people through running. I definitely look up to him.

Book_5050I read “UltraMarathon Man” last year. I loved the book, but never got around to making a book review post. I had read Dean’s book “50/50 – Secrets I learned Running 50 Marathons in 50 Days” previously which is really where my appreciation for the athlete bloomed. You can find my review on that book HERE.

I decided to finally review “UltraMarathon Man,” the book, When my NetFlix delivered the movie to my mailbox. While this movie is more closely related to “50/50,” all the books and the movie tie together.

I  highly recommend reading one or both books and watching this movie if you are like me and in need of a little motivation and inspiration. He has one other book called “Run! 26.2 Stories of Blisters and Bliss” that I plan on picking up soon.

dvd-ummLet’s start with the movie, which was made in 2008. The movie follows Dean, his crew and family as they travel from marathon to marathon through the 50 states. You get to see candid shots of Dean as well as insights on why Dean does what he does.

I really like seeing Dean in action to complement the books I had already read. They also point the camera on other athletes who speak on their own running as well as why they follow Dean.

One of my favorite lines is spoken by another runner, Mike Huckabee, the governor (at the time) of Arkansas at Marathon #4: “I think what Dean is doing is pretty amazing and the inspiration that he is giving to everybody – that if he can run 50 marathons in 50 days in 50 states, then every american can do at least 50 minutes of exercise three or four times a week and get healthy.”

There’s plenty of inspiration to be found in this movie, and not just from Dean. He tells the stories of other runners he has met along the way, including a then 53-year-old woman who had run 50 marathons in the last three years and beaten cancer all at the same time. WOW!

ultramarathonmanThe book, written in 2006, is everything up to his 50 states challenge. He chronologically explains his running career from high school, to the absence of running for about 14 years, to how he got started again and started running ultramarathons. He follows his passion and took what he loved to find out how to make it part of his life. Now, not only does he get paid for it, but he uses it running to help others in need. And that’s truly inspiring to me. I can only hope that this can happened for me and for others.

This man, this athlete, is an animal! But it’s not just his athletic greatness that inspires others and myself.  He’s down to earth. He’s very motivating if so because he is so charismatic. He’s a genuinely nice guy and always running for a cause. We see in “UltraMarathon Man” the book, that he runs a relay race (meant for a team of 6 to 12) by himself all to raise money and awareness so a little girl could have an organ transplant.

“I always not wanted this to be about me”, Dean says in the movie, “not about one runner trying to prove something to the world. I wanted it to be about inclusion, about bringing people together. About uniting people and celebrating health.”

Yes, it’s true, I did get inspiration to run all 50 states from Dean, but I hope emulate the same inspiration. If I can just inspire one person to start running, not for the sake of running, but for the sake of being healthier, I would be happy. I can only hope to meet him someday and hopefully I’ll mumble something that sounds like “you’re my hero.”

I sit here writing this post while the move plays again in the background thinking to myself how all I want to do is get outside and run (despite the wind) and wondering why my stomach aches and my muscles hurt. Wondering if I should attempt to run right this second or wait to heal up. Nevertheless, I AM truly inspired. Not just to start running again and keep striving for my goals, but also to get healthier and stronger so I can complete and COMPETE for my dreams.

The movie ends with Dean finishing all 50 states and afterwards, what does he do? Runs. Just goes, without a distance goal, without a map and runs with his voiceover: “Follow your heart. Do what you love. The hardest thing for people to do is take that leap of faith.”

“I’m just doin’ what I love” -Dean Karnazes

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YOUR TURN: Has anyone else seen this movie or read his books?? More curiously, who is your running idol??

Dean’s Website – All about the athlete from this training to nutrition and all his books and tour dates.