I'm not really one to be a hero worshiper, but in a lot of ways I would love to be like Dean Karnazes. There aren't many people in the world who both love to run as much as he does, and can run as far as he can. My longest races are a slow training run for him. In his new book, Run! 26.2 Stories of Blisters and Bliss, Dean tells some funny stories of his running life, as well as reporting some of his race experiences (most of which are pretty funny, too!). Just about anyone, runner or not, will be in danger of catching a bug for running after reading this.
Dean's not without his critics in the world of ultrarunning. When his name comes up when I'm running with people, opinions will range from awesome to idiot. Sure, some of his runs might be viewed as publicity stunts, but he's got enough wins and fast finishes in major races to be certifiably great. He has completed Badwater several times, including a win, and has 11 silver buckles from Western States. What more does the guy need to do?
When he's not running organized races, he runs forever just for fun. That's what I like about his feats. Sometimes he runs organized races, sometimes he runs on his own for a sponsor or charity, but many of his ultras are run alone, for the sake of the run. This is a guy who sleeps little, needs little time for recovery, and is never as happy as when he's out for a long run.
I know I'll never be the runner Dean is (In spite of his repeated statements that he's just a regular guy, there's no question that the genetic lottery has worked in his favor.), but I want to be more infected by his joy of running. He has made a life of it, and has included his wife, father, and children as much as possible. If you don't know much about Dean, or if you have followed his career for years, you'll enjoy these stories. And you'll have a hard time not going out for a run once you're done reading!