Sunday, October 23, 2005

Dean Karnazes Talks About His 350 Mile Run (Interview)

Last weekend, Dean Karnazes achieved the impossible by running 350 miles non-stop (that's right.....350 MILES!) as a fundraising effort for Organs 'R' Us (you can read the Outside Magazine article here).

I had a chance to catch up with Dean and here a bit more about the run, and his continuing efforts to raise funds to help Katalina, a one year old girl in need of a heart transplant. Donations are still being accepted here.

(Dean with The Relay organizers Greg and Steve)

1) First, congratulations on an amazing run! Are you insanely sore right now?

Surprisingly, I’m still on a high and not all that sore. I think the soreness won’t kick-in for a week or two.

2) What was the course you ran? Why did you choose that particular course?

I ran 151 miles to the start of The Relay, which is a 199-mile relay race that I ran solo. I wanted to run through Bodega Bay to visit the Nicholas Green Memorial. Nicholas was the little boy who died while on vacation in Italy and donated his organs to seven Italians. The Relay is a benefit for childhood organ donation, and my run was structured as a fundraiser for a little girl at Stanford Children’s Hospital who has a failing heart. So the course seemed fitting. I placed a card and flowers from my family at the Nicholas Green Memorial when I got there. From Bodega Bay I ran north through Healdsburg and then down to Calistoga where The Relay begins.

3) It sounds like the weather cooperated a bit more this year than your 262-mile run last year. How were the conditions for this run?

It didn’t rain for days like last year, but it got pretty hot. During two of the days temperatures were in the 90’s, which was kind of a bummer. The heat took a lot out of me.

4) You added over 80 miles to your run from last year, requiring three days/nights of running. What were the major obstacles in going this distance?

Sleep deprivation was a major challenge, as was the sheer number of miles. There’s a definite tradeoff between speed and wanting to conserve your strength. You want to run fast to get it over with quicker and not have to endure additional hours without sleep, but running faster takes more out of you. So you try to find a balance. I was logging 175 mile training weeks leading up to the event and doing lots of night running to prepare, getting up at 2:00 AM on work days and running for five hours before taking the kids to school and heading to the office. I’ve never trained so hard in my life. I felt like if I ran another mile further I’d get injured or sick. My goal going into it was to be in the best shape of my life.

5) What did you eat/drink and how many calories did you burn? Any pizzas or whole cheesecakes on this run?

My crew calculated that I ate something like 40,000 calories and drank nine gallons of liquid over the course of 80 hours and 44 minutes of running. I basically followed a seafood diet; I saw food and I ate it. Choices ranged from energy bars to almond butter sandwiches and just about everything in between. My crew was really dialed-in this time. They were in a motor home following alongside me, and we really worked efficiently as a team. Having such terrific support was critical.

6) Can you walk (I mean, run) us through the experience? What were the highpoints/lowpoints?

The first two nights of running went as well as can be expected. Nothing too crazy. But that third night without sleep got fairly psychotic. I started swerving and veering across the road, which got pretty scary. The last ten miles were as close to an out-of-body experience as anything I’ve ever experienced before. My mind seemed disassociated from my body, and I just floated along. There was no sensation of pain, no feeling at all really, just floating. Weird. It was late and it was a beautiful cloudless night, the moon was full, stars were shooting; the whole thing was all very surreal.

7) How do your feet feel? Any blisters? Did they swell much?

I went through four pairs of shoes. Started with a 10, changed to a 10 wide, then to a 10 double wide, and finished with a 10 4x wide. So there definitely was some swelling, but surprisingly no problems with blisters. I lost a few toenails, which was kind of brutal.

8) You have said that you think 500 miles nonstop is achievable. Do you still believe that?

(Laughs) It’s difficult for me to get my head around 500 miles right now. Maybe on a flatter course, or on a track, in cooler conditions it could be done. Running over hills and through the mountains like I did during the 350 was not conducive to sheer miles, but it was the course The Relay follows. I’m not saying that 500 miles is undoable, it just might take a better runner than me to pull it off.

9) You ran to help build awareness for Organs ‘R’ Us, who assists people needing organ transplants. This run was specifically to help Katalina, a young girl who needs a transplant very soon. Can you tell us more?

Katalina has a failing heart and is in desperate need. I structured this run as a fundraiser to support her. I solicited per mile donations so that the further I made it, the more I raised for her. During the low points, the times when I wanted to stop, I kept reminding myself that if I stopped short of my goal of running 350 miles, Katalina would receive less. My pain, I told myself, was nowhere close to the pain Katalina and her family are enduring. So I kept going, wouldn’t let myself stop.

People were incredibly generous in their contributions. The North Face pledged $10 per mile, and many individuals contributed. It was quite extraordinary how supportive people were, and continue to be.

10) Can people still donate to help Katalina?

Yes. The contributions continue to come in and are welcomed. It’s getting down to a sprint now, every day matters. We need to save this young child. She is going to be a runner. I just know it.

Secure online contributions can be made through at:

Thanks Dean, and good luck on your recovery!

For those interested in hearing more from Dean, be sure to check out our original interview, and his discussion about his goal of running 500 miles.

- SD


  1. Thx to Dean for sharing about his amazing feat! Or "amazing feet" perhaps. Judi

  2. I hope Katalina is pulling through. I heard about your blog through a e-mail sent from a friend and made a donation.


  3. Does he have ANY toesnails left? Heck, I lose one after running five miles!

    I would be curious if Dean thinks he is doing permanent damage somehow, and to what area (bones, joints, etc.). I can't imagine somebody can run that far and not.

  4. How much has he raised?

  5. I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to all of the remarkable people who have contributed to the effort to help save Katalina, and there have been many of you. The outpouring of human spirit and compassion has been extraordinary, and I am forever grateful for this showing of support and camaraderie.

    As of last report, Katalina remains in stable condition. I am going to try to make arrangements to visit her this weekend, if her health permits.

    Again, thank you all for your support…you have made, and continue to make, a huge difference.

    Kindest regards,
    Dean Karnazes

  6. Dean's playlist is in Runner's World,5033,s6-51-0-0-8500,00.html

    I would think it would be longer?!?

  7. Thanks for the nice comment on my blog. I LOVE your blog and have been reading it for a long time. Happy trails and keep up the great work!

  8. Thanks for the heads up on the interview here. The fact that Dean does what he does for more then just glory makes his feats that much more remarkable. After I read his book I realized what I was missing, pushing myself physically. I got into triathlons and I am beginning to venture down the endurace racing path (I have a long way to go). I have enjoyed every second of it. I look forward to reading your blog for tips and future inspiration.


  9. Great achievement! Thanks for detailing it for us!


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