Interview: Ultra Runner Dean Karnazes

Ultra-runner extraordinaire Dean Karnazes — he of such feats as “50 marathons in 50 states on 50 consecutive days,” and an 82-hour-long, 350-mile run — caught up this month with Gear Junkie. Karnazes is back from the Boston Marathon earlier this year, a race in Patagonia, and a few other ultra-oriented things. Now he is promoting a new website and a running campaign with Dick’s Sporting Goods and NationalRunnersMonth.com, and has a marathon in Fargo, N.D., on his schedule for late May. Stephen Regenold interviewed Karnazes for a quick Q&A.

Gear Junkie: What have you been up to this year so far?

Dean Karnazes: Started the year by hosting the inaugural Rock N Roll Ultramarathon in Arizona, and, of course, running it, too. Next, I rode 500 miles on a special bike from my house in San Francisco to the start of the LA Marathon, hopped off and ran the marathon. From there it was out to Death Valley for the Hell’s Gate Hundred, and then down to Patagonia for a 50-miler in the Andes Mountains of Argentina. Flew back in time to hit the Big Sur Marathon. So, in answer to your question, I’ve been kinda slackin’ off this year.

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Badwater 135, Death Valley, Calif.

Gear Junkie: Give us a gear rundown of some must-have products on a long run.

Dean Karnazes: I’ve been using the new North Face Enduro BOA hydration pack. Staying properly hydrated and nourished is critical. My one weakness I always bring along, a stash of chocolate covered espresso beans. They work wonders! I use the Petzl TIKKA2 headlamp with a mount kit so it attaches to the waist strap on my pack for better lighting on the trail. For my head, a Buff performance headwear is extremely versatile. The North Face’s Hydrogen jacket is key. It’s an ultralight wind shell. 2.9 ounces never did so much!

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Wichita (Kansas) Marathon. Photo by Corey Rich

Gear Junkie: How can people get motivated to run?

Dean Karnazes: First off, try to enjoy running. Let’s face it, if you don’t enjoy it, you won’t keep it up. Next, start from the ground up by investing in a good pair of properly fitting shoes. Go to a sporting goods store that has a knowledgeable staff. Invest in a comfortable pair of shoes. Once you’ve made the investment in these shoes, you’re going to feel really guilty if they just sit in the closet and don’t get use. It’s built in motivation!

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New Hampshire Marathon. Photo by Corey Rich

Gear Junkie: What are your goals for 2010?

Dean Karnazes: I’ve been giving a lot of talks at schools to encourage kids to get outside and become more active. With obesity levels at epidemic proportions and sedentary lifestyles the norm, something needs to be done. I am working as an ambassador of the DSG National Runners’ Month. We are providing tips on nationalrunnersmonth.com to help motivate runners. I’m also doing my best to spread the word about the terrific charity that National Runners’ Month supports, Team Fox.

—Stephen Regenold is editor of Gear Junkie.

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