Dean Karnazes finished running 50 marathons, in 50 states, in 50 consecutive days with the New York City Marathon on Sunday, November 5, 2006.
The purpose of the Endurance 50 was to encourage and inspire folks young and old to get outside and live healthier, more active lives.
Dean’s foundation Karno Kids was formed in response to the deteriorating health of the US nation.
As Dean describes: “The costs of our inactivity and poor diet are staggering, not just in terms of direct medical costs, but in quality of life. The Endurance 50 is largely a wake-up call to this great nation that we need to take back our health. Karno Kids is dedicated to this mission, and the contributions raised will go directly to those organizations that support this goal.”
Training for Endurance 50
“My personal training for the Endurance 50 kicked-off with the ING New York City Marathon in November ‘05. Since then, I’ve logged between 60-170 miles per week. I’ve worked closely with Chris Carmichael and Jason Koop at CTS to optimize all aspects of my conditioning, from cross-training, to diet and nutrition, to work, family, and lifestyle elements. We’ve decided that one of the best ways to train for running multiple marathons is (surprise, surprise) running multiple marathons. And to further build endurance, mixing in a couple ultramarathons has helped expand overall capacity. A partial list of the marathons and ultra’s I’ve participated in this season include:
-American River 50 mile run
-Whidbey Island Marathon
-The Relay (120 miles)
-Big Sur International Marathon
-Mt. Diable 50K
-San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon
-Western States 100 Mile Endurace Run
-Vermont Trail 100 mile run
-San Francisco Marathon
-Leadville Trail 100 mile run
So in the five month training block, I’ll have logged 925 race miles (185 race miles per month). Using these marathons and ultra’s as training runs has been beneficial in helping us determine the right balance between pace and recovery. The challenge with the Endurance 50 will be to complete each marathon with sufficient time to travel to the next state, but not too quickly to compromise recovery. Through this training program, we’ve gleaned valuable insight into the various factors that impact recovery, and we’re continuing to adapt our approach based on these learning’s.
One thing is for certain, I’ve been completely amazed by the resilience of the human body. At the conclusion of the Endurance 50, this year I’ll have run over 60 official marathons, as well as ten ultramarathons, including three 100 mile races, a 120 miler, and the 135 mile Badwater.
I guess the lesson here is something I’ve heard Ken Chlouber, founder of the Leadville Trail 100 Mile Race Across the Sky, say before: You’re better than you think you are and you can do more than you think you can. Whether you’re running one mile or one hundred, I encourage you to test your own personal boundaries and expand upon your own personal limits of endurance. It’s been tremendously gratifying for me to go farther than I ever thought possible, and I wish the same for you.”
The Race Directors and Race Staff of dozens of marathons across the nation worked tirelessly to make the necessary arrangements to open their sanctioned marathon course on a day other than that of their normally scheduled race so Dean could run50 marathons, in 50 states, in 50 consecutive days, and engage lots of people to run along.
“Many a late night I would find my wife, Julie, downstairs on the phone with the airlines, hotels, kids schools getting the lesson plans, or RV centers finalizing the details. Then she’s off to her office first thing the next morning, chipper and energetic as normal. My family has been absolutely amazing, and I am forever grateful,” Dean says.
He got also help from the dedicated staff at the Squires Group to coordinate logistics and event management across the country, his book publisher Penguin, who helped promote the event and supplied books for charity, and the Endurance 50 sponsors.
The Ultimate Family Road Trip
His parents were homeschooling Dean’s two children during the Endurance 50. “We are a very close family, still sticking to our Greek heritage, and I wouldn’t dream of doing this event alone. My children’s respective schools have been extremely supportive in providing the necessary lesson plans, and my kids will be interacting with their classmates, and other kids across the country, via email and blog postings. And yes, they will also be doing some running along the way!”
Dean started his first day off with the Lewis & Clark Marathon, Missouri (3:50:52):
“The Lewis & Clark marathon was the perfect beginning to the tour. Surrounded by family and friends, and hundreds of fellow runners, I surprised (shocked is probably a better word) my wife by renewing our wedding vows. The service was performed by my best friend and running partner, Topher Gaylord, who promptly removed his Ministers gown following the ceremony and ran the marathon with me!”
50 down, kept going
On day 50 Dean writes:
“50 marathons, 50 states, 50 days, done! All I can say is that this past fifty days was more than I ever could have imagined. Way more.
In fact, I’m having such a great time, why stop? Tomorrow, I think I’ll go for a run. A long one. Maybe I’ll keep going the next day, too…
Very best to you all, and hope to see you down the road,
Since then, Dean never stopped. Now in his fifties, he’s still going strong!
Fun Facts about Endurance 50
Number of shoes: 5 pair
Number of socks: 18 pair
Number of lost toenails: 3
Number of blisters: 2
Number of calories per day: 5,000 to 6,000
Number of trail marathons: 5
Hottest temperature: 104 degrees, Arizona
Coldest temperature: 38 degrees, Alaska
Faster time: 3:00:30 – NYC Marathon, #50
Slowest time: 4:45:21 – Tecumseh Trail Marathon, #39
Longest drive: 11 ½ hours
Shortest drive: 55 minutes
Average hours of sleep: 4 ½
Starting weight: 154
Finish weight: 153
Making impossible possible
By running 50 marathons, in 50 states, over 50 consecutive days, Dean raised $100,000 for his charity, Karno Kids.
In 2009 Dean had raised $1.2 million for children’s causes, including the fight against childhood obesity, through various endurance challenges.
Dean became well known in 2006 when he ran 50 marathons, in all 50 US states, in 50 consecutive days. 12 years later he’s still going strong.
Dean was living the “perfect life” until his thirties…..
“I thought if I went through University and I got a good job and I was making a good earning that I would be happy. And I did all things and I was miserable.”
One day he thought “either you’re gonna spend the rest of your life on wishing you were not doing what you’re doing now, or you’re gonna make a radical alteration.”
Dean wrote many blogs and books not only about his incredible achievements, but also about the importance living actively and of cleaning up our daily & travel routines and being outdoors.
In California, where Dean lives, the air quality is very good usually, when there are no bush fires. But for a lot of people the reality is that the air quality is not good at all. There are countries where many months during the summer it is not healthy to run outside. In his inspiring role as sports ambassador Dean experienced this himself while traveling.
“It was good for me to live and do that because it gave me a sense of the reality for a lot of people across the globe, and to me it’s really sad and it’s something I hope that we can reverse.”
You can check out more about Dean Karnazes and his latest journeys on his website: