Sunday, August 06, 2006

Did North Face have to buy off Sam Thompson?

Dean Karnazes isn't the only one doing 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days this year. Sam Thompson is currently 40 races into his 51 marathon goal (read about it at his Web site,, often doubling up on days to make up for travel days.

That's why I was a bit surprised to see this press release come out on August 3rd, 2006, welcoming Sam Thompson to The North Face team. Don't you think it's odd this came out WHILE Sam was in the middle of his 50 marathons?

Hmmm. Me thinks The North Face marketing empire may be making amends on this one. Think about it - The well-funded North Face Endurance50 campaign accidentally steamrollers a nice, church-going runner who is already half way through with his 50 marathons to raise money for Hurricane Katrina victims. Crisis!!! What to do?!? Quick fix - add him to the team!

All speculation, of course. One of the fun parts about blogging is you don't need those pesky facts. ;-)

I e-mailed Sam to put his two cents in, as well as wish him luck on his last 10 marathons. Even if I'm right, it's hard to see how anyone loses in this scenario - lots of money raised, North Face backs them all, and two guys testing the boundaries of human endurance. It's all good.


[Donate to Sam's cause here]


  1. Scott,
    Thanks for this interesting update. I had not heard about this latest twist. I posted to the HURT blog when Sam ran in Honolulu. This was back on July 13. Here's the link:


  2. I doubt if many people had heard of him before he started, but seems to be getting a lot of well deserved press now. I agree North Face added him to the team instead of 'competing' against him. I don't think he has doubled to make up for travel, the only double I know of was his D.C. run to make it 51 marathons in 50 states in 50 days.
    (Will Karnazes do the same or somehow top it? Maybe 51 marathons in 49 days?)

    Love your blog, keep up the great work.


  3. Yet another great runner who is a member of Marathon Maniacs and gets well deserved support from them and now a real sponsor. Why not?

  4. Ha! "Buy off"...that's funny.

    That's great that Sam Thompson is getting some aditional support from North Face and their marketing muscle. I wish him the best.


  5. has an interview with another lady doing 50 in 50 (although not in 50 days).

    Beth Davenport will complete her "50 marathons in 50 states" goal on September 24th when she competes in the Clarence Demar Marathon in Keene, New Hampshire. Here we talk about what she gets out of endurance running, how she prepares for a marathon and why she enjoys being a member of several running clubs, including

  6. I hope Sam's effort of drawing attention to rebuilding the coast is boosted by a strong North Face marketing campaign... Just because he hasn't written a book is not a reason to write him off.
    I'm kind of pissed about the Karnazes thing because I think Sam's achievement is much more impressive - his support comes from his friends, family, and the community of Bay St. Louis, MS church members and volunteers. He is eminently humble about what he is doing, yet there is never a doubt he will achieve it. I think Karnazes should be drawing more attention to Sam than just a little North Face press release. Take the ego out of the mission and put Sam's accomplishments on the Endurance 50 web site!

  7. I'm glad Sam is getting added attention to his efforts now. And yes the timing is very interesting but at least it sounds like a win all around!

  8. Obviously neither Sam nor Dean mean to compete with the other, but a few details about Thompson make his efforts more admirable and pure: He only started running marathons in 2004. Despite running during an especially hot summer, he's finished most of his runs faster than the 4:30 to 5:00 projected by Karnazes this fall. He started this without sponsorship. He has no book to promote.

    Sam Thompson has been underpublicized (or perhaps too humble). Only by perusing your blog, Scott, am I in the know. But as you said, it's all good...

  9. Did you LOOK at the results from the first 41? Sam is BADASS. He started at Leadville Trail (not even close to easy), and has many 3:30-3:40 finish times. He is really doing well!!!

  10. Moving to southwest Germany, in the Mannheim/Mainz area. Are there any organized trail events or clubs in the area?

    How would I go about finding them?

  11. Dean K let me know he plans on joining Sam on one of his runs soon to help draw some attention to Sam's success. It also appears that Dean was a big part of getting North Face to sponsor Sam's efforts (after seeing his t-shirt that said "I need a sponsor"). Stay tuned to Dean's blog to hear more...


  12. I would say that's about accurate. Obviously, TNF was fully aware of Sam's efforts far before he started (he contacted them for sponsorship) -- but that they probably didn't "believe" he would complete it. Simple as that, as soon as he got over the hump and it was quite obvious he was going to make it--they said "Well, we gotta have the guy that did it first!"

  13. Oh, and apparently Dean was to run with Sam today in ATL. For someone who was once referred to as his (Sam's) "nemesis" -- I bet THAT was an interesting 26.2. :)

  14. Got this e-mail from Dean K after his run with Sam today:

    Hi All,

    Some of you may have heard of Sam Thompson, some of you may have not. Sam is in the midst of running 50 consecutive marathons in 50 states. In many ways it is similar to the Endurance 50, in many other ways it is very different. Sam is traveling with his parents, his girlfriend Kirsten, and her parents. They are supported by an SUV and a BMW sedan, and have been staying in hotels across the country after running and driving.

    I had the pleasure of traveling to Atlanta to run with Sam today. There were a handful of other runners at the start. A few covered the entire marathon, while others ran primarily to show support and get some exercise. Sam was a delightful individual, and Kirsten and their parents were extremely gracious. I got to run with Kirsten’s father, a school teacher like my mom, which was really great. We ran at a nice clip, and Sam looked surprisingly good for someone who’s been traveling the country for more than a month. Sam and I spent a lot of time talking, and it was clear that he has a deep passion for running, and for life.

    Kirsten ran the second half-marathon with us (her second half-marathon in row!!) and when we reached the finish we were greeted by some other runners, the ING marathon staff, and some passers by (I think it was around 4:00 hours, but Sam’s GPS couldn’t get a signal at the start, so I’m not sure of the exact time). Sam did a couple interviews, shook some hands, took some pictures, and then was off to the hotel for an ice bath and massage (Kirsten is a massage therapist). That has been their routine following the marathons.

    It was really terrific to be able to join Sam. He seemed very down-to-earth and likeable from the moment I met him. I’m sure we will run together again in the future, and I very much look forward to it.

    Some of you may have heard of Christian McEvoy, but again, most of you probably have not. Christian is in the midst of running across the country for cancer patients and survivors. He is supported by a small crew of friends, and has been covering 24 miles a day. Next week I’ll have the pleasure of running with Christian through Utah. I’m taking him, and his crew, a care package donated by The North Face. We’ve been corresponding since he began his endeavor in San Francisco back in July, and he’s going strong and keeping on his projected pace. Most of all, Christian has raised over $112,000 dollars for cancer patients and survivors!! We’re also looking to hookup at some further point down the road during the Endurance 50.

    Together with their crews (and I can’t give enough credit to their crews), both of these guys are doing remarkable things. Not only are they expanding the realm of what is humanly possible, they are using their talents for the benefit of others. I am awed and inspired, and wish them both continued safety and success along their journeys. This is all so fun and exciting!!

    Warm regards,


  15. Hi Scott,

    I just returned from crewing Michael Hayden at his successful 25:58:42 finish at Javalina Jundred 100-Mile run in Phoenix, AZ. Michael turned 17-years old just five days before JJ-100. This was his second attempt at the distance, having DNF'd at Rio Del Lago in September.

    Michael is an impressive young man who has tons of running talent and will be a prominent leader in ultra running in years to come. I highly recommend him for an interview on your blog site. I will be happy to put you in touch with Michael, just send me an e-mail

    Happy trails, see you at Bulldog!!! Nancy Shura-Dervin

  16. Thank you for a very useful site... I have you bookmarked, and will keep my fingers crossed that I may generate traffic to my site!


I LIVE for comments! Please add your thoughts, let me know you stopped by, etc., and be thoughtful of others. Always best if you sign your name, of course.

Latest Excursions