Tuesday, July 31, 2007

What Scott Jurek REALLY thinks about Dean Karnazes

I caught a recent podcast on EndurancePlanet.com where Scott Jurek was interviewed about his recent course record at Hardrock 100. What really surprised me was his commentary about Dean Karnazes. Apparently, he's had enough of the Dean Machine.

(Scott Jurek, ironically featured here at Outside Magazine's "Rising Star" in 2002;
photo courtesy of Brian Smale)

Here's a rough paraphrased transcript of the interview (bold added by me):
It's good we get attention for the sport, but sometimes I wonder what kind of attention is good for the sport. At times I think that some of the Dean attention can hurt athletes like myself and other individuals performing well. There are athletes like us doing all kinds of amazing things and somebody else is walking around and actually accepting these titles and awards. You wouldn't see that in any other sport. I can't think of a sport where this happens - maybe once in a while somebody a bit lower on the elite status might pop up there for doing something extraordinary.

It's good to bring [ultrarunning] to the general audience, but from the standpoint of elite athletes who are working their butts off, training and racing, not making any money...it's not like I'm jealous or envious since I have gotten my share of publicity...but it's getting a little old. It's time the media began focus on the true champions of the sport and those that are doing amazing things because we kind of get lost in the shuffle.

I'm not saying it should be about me, there are runners like Nikki Kimball and Karl Meltzer, there are different distances, and those people deserve their shots too. This is a prime example of how a lot of media is working in this country these days, grabbing onto somebody who has a great publicity machine, great sponsors and media outlets. I would rather earn my titles and the recognition I deserve out on the race course. If you look at other sports, the guys that are finishing mid-pack on the PGA Tour or batting .500, they aren't getting any publicity. Maybe once in a while they get a shot here and there. Generally, it's the winners that are getting the attention. It's just kind of odd that that's happening in our sport often nowadays, where we're just seeing one person stealing the show and winning awards. In other sports, that wouldn't happen.

Again, I would rather earn my titles and if I'm not winning races and performing, I shouldn't be gracing the cover of magazines, getting a title, or even being okay with accepting a title such as Outside Magazine's "America's Best Distance Runner". I would feel ashamed to have that title.
Given the commentary already coming in on the EndurancePlanet site, this is certainly going to be a heated topic:

I was singularly unimpressed with Scott's disparaging comments regarding Dean Karnazes. Dean does good work. I was thoroughly unconvinced by Jurek's (pronounced "Jerk") repeated claims that he isn't jealous of Dean's media exposure. Methinks he doth protest too much...

Keep up the good work Dean!

Gravatar Who says you have to win an endurance event to be known as a great athlete? Many, many, many age groupers are excellent athletes. I think that Scott should be ashamed of himself and respect all athletes, especially in his sport.

Dean shows heart and loves running. That is all you need.

Gravatar jurek is an athlete,
dean is a con man.

keep the tall tales coming dean
(looks like everyone prefers them)

So, there it is. Even in the sport of ultrarunning, egos can't sit on the sidelines.

- SD


  1. All I can say is wow. I have always thought of Scott J as the humble winner, and that his integrity characterized the best of the sport. This has single-handed changed my mind about him. I'm very surprised he finds the media attention so important, even important enough to talk disparagingly about another athlete. Maybe I'm too new to ultrarunning, but this is the first I have heard of one elite talking smack about another.

    I'm not a huge Dean fan either, but did he not win Badwater in 2004? Did he not win the Vermont 100 last year? And those five 200-mile runs in CA? I think it's quite a stretch to call him a mid-packer. One thing for sure, Dean has nothing but great things to say about the elites of ultrarunning, and I've even heard him say "I'm nowhere near as good as Scott Jurek, one of the truly elite ultrarunners" at a presentation. I bet he'll stop saying that now.

    This is so unfortunate. What's next after the ego strut - a doping scandal?

    - Mike

    1. Your 100% correct Mike--Dean can run,you'd be surprised at how many of his bashers don't realize he's raced and won the kind of races he has. The facade of Scott being the mellow good guy is gone.

    2. You know what Scott Jerk? Dean also gives back to his community, country and humanity with his "marketing" and charity work. What about you. He uses his talents in other areas to promote the sport. I think if you got half as much pu licity as he does, you wouldn't criticize yourself.

  2. very interesting! I have actually heard good AND bad things about both of them. Guess you never really know until you meet them in person.

    I can see both sides to the story. I like that Dean brings attention to Ultrarunning and I think some of the big stars deserve more attention as well.

  3. This is surprising to me. But then again, I have no idea what it feels like to win States seven times and watch some guy you beat every time get recognized in the press. My walkaway from this article is that Jurek isn't as different from Karnazes as he thinks.

    I guess I also don't understand what Jurek is suggesting - that Dean should decline his ESPY or Outside award? Wouldn't that make everything worse?


  4. Scott, why does Karnazes get more press than Jurek? That has always bugged me. I would think any press person doing a Google search would come up with Scott's name first.

  5. Dean will always be a controversial figure in ultrarunning. He has undoubtedly done a lot to publicize the sport, and for much of the public, Dean is the one and only face of the sport. However, those more involved with the sport can't help but perceive him as a bit of a PR machine.

    You've got Scott winning Western States, Hardrock, Badwater, and the Spartathlon in a spell of several years. You've got Karl winning six 100-mile races in a year. You've got Nikki Kimball winning practically everything she enters. You've got Hal Koerner winning AC and WS back to back. You've got Yiannis Kouros continuing to set world records almost every time he sets foot on the track.

    And meanwhile, Dean is running on a treadmill, suspended in midair in Times Square. If you were Scott, wouldn't you be frustrated?

    Dean's 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days was a great accomplishment, if somewhat contrived. However, Sam Thompson finished before he did, why doesn't he get the PR? And the whole thing pales in comparison to David Horton's speed record on the PCT, where he averaged 40 miles a day for 67 days.

    Scott probably shouldn't have said what he did, but I can't help sympathize with his frustration.

  6. One thing that Scott is missing is that the media will focus on whoever they think will sell the most newspapers or magazines. If most ultrarunners are media shy people then the ones who aren't are going to get attention (and it isn't true that the media always focuses on winners in other sports. The most famous female golfer in the world is almost certainly Michelle Wie and Danica Patrick is one of the most famous race car drivers in the world and it isn't because they are winners). If he wants to get attention paid to the true elites (and I see no reason why he shouldn't) then he or someone else is going to have to work at it. Dean does and, rightly or wrongly, that is why people know his name.

  7. You can be the best at anything and pretty much nobody will care unless you have some personality (Tennis for example). Scott seems to be lacking any personality or charismatic character. Instead of complaining maybe he should try and work on his PR if it's the attention he wants. Right now he looks like the bitter kid in grade school who can't get any attention.

  8. Lots of great comments, everyone. Of course, I would always appreciate it if you could sign your name too. ;-)

    To answer your question about "why does Dean get more press than Scott", I can only apply some semi-informed speculation.

    Probably the first and foremost reason is that Dean is more popular than the sport of ultrarunning (and by definition, any of its elites). You can just look at the circulation of Dean's book and see that it is 20x the population of all current ultrarunners. Add to that all the magazine articles, and he's way up there. His book had appeal far beyond the sport, which is why it gained international appeal quickly. That's also how he wins vote-driven awards like the ESPY's.

    Second, Dean (and The North Face) do run a PR machine, sending press releases and notifications, making him available for photos, etc. Many magazines write about Dean and ultrarunning because he called, not because they were looking to write about ultrarunning.

    Lastly, he has proven that he can increase circulation for magazines so they are all on board. His stories create additional readers and subscriptions, partially thanks to a good story and partially thanks to a cover-friendly face and body. But when one mag sees that, they all zoom in. Perhaps this is what Jurek was alluding to in his comments about the media - they all get pulled by the gravitational power of media engine/story.

    Lastly, Dean is smart about making sure online stories link to Web site which contains the word "ultramarathon" in the title. That's good for a solid Google rank boost. ;-)


  9. To the last anonymous quoter- obviously you have never met Scott in person and should think twice before judging his personality.

    I agree with what Scott Dunlap said. Here in Seattle, the weekend TWO Seattlites won Hardrock 100, not ONE word (that I could find) was mentioned about it in both of the local papers. Of course there was a triathlon in town that weekend, as well as the Seattle to Portland bike ride, but you would think something like that would get one sentence at least in the back of the sports page. Oh well. On the other hand, one thing that has attracted me to ultras (I've only done one so far) is that they are not quite so mainstream. Yet it would be nice to see a little more media directed towards others in the field besides DK, not that I dislike him.

  10. Hi, Scott.

    It has to be acknowledged that Dean K has brought attention to the sport of Ultrarunning. The same can be said for Barry Bonds and steroids. I remember when Dean was appearing in Outside and Mens Health and he only listed ultrarunning as one of his hobbies along with surfing, cycling, rollerblading, etc. It seems like over the years, he has gone from outdoor industry personality with a photogenic face and body to the Face of Ultrarunning.

    I think that while "The Dean Karnazes Brand" has brought some great attention and new athletes into the sport, allowing your PR group to put you on the cover of one the premier outdoor publications as America's Greatest Distance Runner is just wrong. He had to know he was going to represented in that fashion, and he accepted the title.

    I will say this about the ESPY. His name was the only one of two that I recognized of the 5 nominated athletes. The other was the breakdancing fisherman. The dog musher, the 18 year old female mountaineer and the mountaineer who did the 7 summits in 7 months are not household names in a category where most voters probably submitted the name they recognized the most. Dean has accomplished that name recognition.

    Of all of the photos you could use, Scott. The one of Jurek with a scowl on his face?

    Congrats on your finish at Tahoe. Hope your recovery is going well.

    Scott Wolfe
    Eugene, Oregon

  11. Just getting into running, I had come across Dean's book. This was very inspiring and showed that there is a hidden treasure of ultra running. I was in awe with Dean's chronicles. After running a couple of marathons and knowing more about the sport of distance running, I got to know others including Scott Jurek. Dean definitely pales in comparison to the real elites of the ultra, but he opened the door for the general public to see it. Dean's wins in VT 100 and Badwater were lack of real competition in those events. Our local guy owns the course record at VT100 that is well beyond Dean's reach, but nobody knows him.

    Both Dean and Scott are doing a great deal of good to the sport of ultra running, but Dean really helps motivating the couch potatoes. At the same time, I can understand Scott's frustrations. Scott is only human and like anybody else, is entitled to express his frustrations about Dean's excessive publicity.

  12. I am not sure why so many people are insulting Jurek and likening him to a jealous school boy. The man has been respectful of Dean for quite some time. In fact, he has said nothing but good things about Dean since day one.

    This isn't about Jurek, it is about the sport. the sport is viewed as a circus act by most people - including distance runners - and Dean is taking that notion and moving even further.

    Jurek is simply claiming that what Dean is doing is bad for the sport, a sport he cares deeply about, obviously. He is correct. If you stop and think about it, it is completely laughable that Dean was given the title "America's Greatest Distance Runner." We all know that is a complete farce. Jurek wouldn't have accepted that title, and neither would most of the Track&Field athletes in our country.

    As a runner who competes in both shorter and ultra events, it saddens me to see how Dean has pigeonholed utlra runner as a circus event.

    Jurek is a champion athlete, competing and making a difference in the sport. Jurek is winning races and lowering course records. Jurek is not the only one doing this, nor does he want to be viewed as such. He even admits he has gotten a good amount of press, and that he just wants to see worthy accomplishments being noted.

    Jurek is simply worried about the sport. Re-read his comments, it has nothing to do with him. The sport is being made a mockery by Dean, and if you cannot see this, you do not understand ultra running.

    I am sure Dean is a nice guy, and I know he is talented, but his uber-capitalist attitude regarding running is harming the sport I love. Obviously Jurek feels the same way.

    Thanks Scott.

  13. Whoa people! Why is that runners seem to love to tear down an elite runner whenever they can? The same can be said about the truly crabby DK bashers.

    While Scott D. did a decent job paraphrasing what Jurek said, it was just that "a rough paraphrased transcript of the interview." Really when you actually listen to the interview in full, there isn't anything at all controversial about what Jurek says. In fact, Jurek sounds rather uncomfortable talking about the issue at all. He was asked the question after all. It's good that he answered it so honestly.

    Scott is paraphrased as saying, "It's time the media began focus on the true champions of the sport and those that are doing amazing things because we kind of get lost in the shuffle." What you don't hear if you don't listen to the actual podcast is Scott saying it's not just me it's the great women like Nikki Kimball or people like Karl Meltzer and many other great champions of the sport. It's very clear that he's not talking about himself in this context, but all elite ultrarunners of the sport, of which there are many.

    His comparison to DK getting pr like a mid pack golfer on the PGA tour is really true. He never says that DK is a mid pack runner, but his comparison makes a lot of sense.

    And, when Jurek says he would feel ashamed to have that title, you should hear what he says next. He says something like "other distance runners are way above where I'm at, I'm a nobody when it comes to people like Ryan Hall or Meb or Deena or some people running other distances right now."

    So, I think before we all jump on the let's bash Scott Jurek bandwagon and think he is an attention craving egomaniac, we better actually listen to the entire podcast before commenting.

    Maybe it's just me, but I can certainly understand Scott J's perspective. It is a bit odd how the p.r. has been skewed in this sport. I really don't have anything against Dean, more power to him, but I would rather see a real champion of the sport like Scott Jurek or Nikki Kimball on the cover of Runners World or walking up to get an award at the ESPY's. These folks are really the best of what our sport offers. They train and work hard, are champions of our sport, don't seek attention, but receive it graciously when they do. I really would like to see them get more media attention myself, because they really are champions.

    I would say Scott is a humble winner. He doesn't want to see himself get more attention necessarily, but ALL of the true champions of the sport - Nikki, Karl, those excelling at shorter distances - get the attention they deserve in comparison to a talented runner but not one at the top of the sport. It really seems pretty simple and straightforward. And, I don't think Scott really bashed DK once in his interview, I think he was more critical, if you could call it that, of the media.

    Scott Jurek is one of the all-time great runners of our sport. And, while he himself acknowledged in the interview that there are a lot of great runners at the shorter ultra distances that leave him in the dust, he is one of the best trail 100 mile runners of all time.

  14. Personally I think this commentary does nothing to elevate the sport, that's for sure. Considering 98% of the running population cannot even do 100 miles and especially Badwater, So kudos to both Dean and Scott. Let's just get along here.

    In general, the Hopi, Navajo, and Jemez tribes of the United States, as well as the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico have been doing ultra-running for centuries, and there has been no great mention of them. Perhaps we should just take this back a few centuries and recognize the accomplishments of a race of people, rather than just two people. When it all comes down to it, we do this because we like to do it, and not to survive.

    There lies the basis for recognition.


  15. I can definitely, see both sides to this. I am in awe of Scott J, and Dean really got me interested in the ultra scene after reading his book.

    I would give more credit to Scott D's blog here, for getting me to really follow ultra running though. It's the positive attitude of people like him, and the fun you guys talk about when running that gets me excited about trail running.

    Then again when you are as freakishly good as Scott J, you've got to have that competitive edge, so he can rant about his sport and trying to protect it if he wants.

    The only disturbing thing about Scott J, are those denim cutoffs he was wearing while talking to Karl M at the end of Hardrock, on youtube.

  16. Hello everybody,

    I fully agree with Scott Jureks opinion.

    I liked the book from Dean about Ultrarunning and I think it helped that ultrarunning gets more media attention.

    But ( a very big but) all these press releases about Dean are getting annoying. Lot of the stuff is not even impressive like the 50 states Marathon thing.
    He wasn't the first one and its not such an amazing feat at all. (I know what I am talking about, since I ran across Australia 2001)

    Other performances like the nonstop race over 350 miles are questionable. I don't think that Dean can pull that off.

    I respect Dean for his running performances and he is a good runner. But he is not a great runner like Scott or Karl.

    But maybe we all can learn from Dean and promote our performances better. He is doing an excellent PR job for sure.

    Keep running

  17. I agree with I2Run. Dean opened my eyes to that “lunatic” sport of ultra running. I thought his 50/50/50 was great and definitely had me following it daily. Once I learned more about the sport, mainly through blogs like this one, I got into trail running and signed up for my first ultra this fall (Santa Barbara 9 Trails). I have been running road races and marathons for years now, but this is a whole new world for me. In essence, while Dean wasn’t the reason for me to get into trail running and ultras, he was certainly the catalyst. There are many people out there who could share similar stories.

    Also, I think that Dean opened the door for ultra-elites to make good money in this sport themselves. Whoever said that there could be only one poster boy for this wonderful sport? Dean has demonstrated that through clever marketing even a top runner (not elite) can make a living in the sport/hobby he loves. Good for him! He’s proven that you can turn your hobby into a job, even if no one has done it before. And the door is now wide open for elites like Jurek and others to ride Karno’s coattails and capitalize on their success themselves.

    Happy Trails!


  18. Jurek is 100% crybaby. I believe if you listen to the interview it sounds more spiteful than the text. Dean is inspiring people to exercise, and that's bad? He wrote a book and his sponsor is good at promotion, that's it. He does not hurt Scott by doing what he's doing. Jurek is at the top of his sport, he only hurt himself by being jealous.

  19. Well, here's one more perspective (and not anonymous). I have actually been fairly neutral about DK until recently. I enjoyed his book and found it entertaining. He definitely always seemed like a media hound, but I thought he was fairly innocuous even though it bothered me a bit when people who didn't know the sport believed that many of his feats had not been equaled or bettered by others. However, I do find his acceptance and exploitation of the title "America's Best Distance Runner" as both dishonest and potentially damaging to those who are truly at the elite level of our sport and trying to gain it some legitimacy.

    For people like me, true mid-pack (or even back-of-the-back) runners, having our sport kept on the fringe is not an issue. In fact, it sometimes makes us feel special as our friends and family look in awe as we describe what seem to be unfathomable running accomplishments to them. However, ultrarunning (and distance running in general) are competitive sports. There are elite runners who would benefit from a bit more mainstream understanding of the sport and improved competition in this country. Scott's recent win at Spartathlon not withstanding, the US still has a long way to go to be competitive on the international level. We haven't seen a US ultrarunner consistently competitive on the international scene since Ann Trason.

    There is hope for American distance running, however. People like Meb and Deana have been able to reverse the 2-decade trend of declining American competitiveness in the Marathon. There are programs like the American Distance Project and the Hansons-Brooks Team (among others) working to enable US distance athletes to train at the elite level for international competition. We even recently did pretty well at the IAU 24hr World Challenge. However, for a country the size of the US, we really aren't as competitive as we should be on the international scene.

    I know that Dean has brought a lot of attention to the sport and has also managed to inspire a lot of people. However, I can imagine that for someone like Scott Jurek who would love to be able to make a living *competing* in his chosen sport, that the more gimmicky events (i.e. 50in50in50, treadmill above Times Square) that seem to garner the media attention have got to be a bit frustrating. And, seeing a title such as "America's Best Distance Runner" being brandished about by someone who doesn't compete at his level has got to feel a little bit like a slap in the face.

  20. Well said, everyone. Thanks for leaving comments.

    I would encourage everyone to click through and listen to the podcast. I did paraphrase, and text cannot truly capture the tone of the comments. I highlighted what was surprising to me, but don't let that impact your opinion - listen for yourself. EndurancePlanet.com does a great job of interviewing and editing, and it's a wonderful piece.

    I should note that I personally find both Scott J and Dean K inspiring. They both are elites in my eyes, accomplishing things I can't even imagine attempting.

    Lastly, there are a couple of quick things RD's and racers can do to improve the chances of local press. I bet most local papers would love to hear about the history of running in native populations as well. I'll put it down as a future blog entry post, and provide some PR templates that both individuals and racers can use if they see fit.


  21. DK appears to put a lot of time and energy into self-promotion, which is why he gets the attention. Face it, ultrarunning is a fringe sport, and it certainly doesn't have any spectator appeal. Assiduous self-promotion is necessary to get any kind of coverage. SJ on the other hand puts his time and attention into training and racing. This wins races, but the only ones interested are other ultrarunners.

    The media isn't interested in ultrarunning because it can't be used to sell things - too small an audience. DK on the other hand can be used to sell things.

    I remember after the Bruce Fordyce years at Comrades, Nick Bester won a Comrades and expected fame and fortune similar to Bruces's. It didn't happen of course. Bruce Fordyce was charming, articulate, and thoughtful. He gave good interviews, quotes, and speeches. Years of this allowed him to build an income stream from his wins. Nick thought the win was all he needed for the income, sorry, wrong. Winning in a lunatic-fringe sport is never enough.

  22. Scott, what is your record for most comments?

  23. Dave -

    The biggest one to date has been 64, on the original Dean K interview. This one could break it! ;-)


  24. Scott D, if you could get a Dean K response that would be awesome.

  25. Scott, I think this is one of the best posts you've made in your blog - thanks!

    My first reaction was to agree with Jurek. Karnazes succeeded in marketing before he did in running, and that predilection is evident in what he does.

    However, I was lucky enough to meet and even run with Karnazes during his book tour - he's quite a nice guy and very accessible. That accessibility is a major draw for running - in what other sport can average ol' me compete alongside the elites?

    They're both great for the sport, but I do wish that some of the many spotlights on Karnazes could be deflected towards other runners - Jurek, Carpenter, Kimball, etc - what they do should be no less amazing to the general public.

    Ironically, if I were blessed with the running abilities of Jurek or Karnazes (or even Dunlap!) I would probably be doing what Karnazes does, namely the "stunt" runs for charity and awareness. I do feel there's a place for that in our society as a means for inspiration. Yet too much marketing can marginalize the message, and I think that's what Jurek is getting at here.

  26. I am a little taken aback by many of these comments as I didn't realize any of us was running ultras for fame and fortune. Either I missed something or there are some people in the wrong sport.
    That having been said, before you start comparing 2 ultra runners, look at what they do. I think comparing Scott to Dean is comparing apples to oranges. I don't know Scott, but to my knowledge he focuses on races and trains specifically for them. Dean is traveling all the time, doing race after race after race. If these other elites you are talking about were to hold his kind of racing schedule, would you expect them to win everything? I would think not.
    I've really enjoyed running with Dean on the occasions that I have and find him enjoyable and friendly, and I've never heard him say anything disparaging about any other runner.
    Would I want the kind of media attention he gets?
    A very small part of me says that would be kind of fun for a while, while a much larger part of me says NO WAY! Would any of you? knowing that you would be getting torn down by the very people in the running community you speak highly of (and I haven't listened to the podcast, I am not saying SJ tore him down).
    Before you bad mouth either of these two great athletes (and I do believe they both are) think about running a mile, or 100 miles, in their shoes.

    1. You are right. Jurek is a pure ultramarathoner; Karnazes is more of an ambassador of fitness. Listening to Karnazes' interviews I never get the feeling that he cares to win the events he enters: he even admits that he is slow (a 2:42 marathon pr is still fast to me). He is kind of a Jack Lalane type of guy: a fitness icon. That he gets confused for an elite ultramarathoner is a function of media and public ignorance of running and especially ultrarunning.

  27. Interesting how people want to trash on Dean about him selling out and not being a "True Champion". When has that ever been the case with the media. I listened to the entire interview and here are my thoughts:

    Scott is an amazing athlete and probably the best at 100 mile distance, he has proven himself at WS, Badwater (which he probably would have won this year), Hardrock... Scott approaches all disciplines, analyzes the challenge and goes out and wins most races.

    Dean is also an amazing athlete. His desire to push the limits are an inspiration to everyone who has read his book and meet him (I met him in Grand Rapids this past fall during his 50/50/50). Dean has won his share of titles (and please don't diminish his accomplishments because of the competition or him not breaking any records).

    Just because you win alot of races does not automatically mean that all of the media attention should be bestowed upon that individual. That is the rule, not the exception. Who gets more attention, 1) Michelle Wei (no victories) or Lorena Ocha (#1 player in the world, 2) Lebron James (no championships) or Tim Duncan(4 championships in 7 years), 3) Barry Bonds or Maglio Ordonez (leading the AL in batting), 4) Tom Cruise or Tom Hanks,
    There is a part of it that is promotion, but when it comes down to Dean, I think (just from my experience with meeting him) what draws people to him is inspiration. That is the component that all of the Dean bashers are missing, Dean inspires people to become a better person than they were yesterday. Maybe that explains why movies like Rudy and Hossiers are more ingrained in the public psyche than Citzen Kane.

    I have read articles and interviews of the top ultra runners and unfortunately they are just regular, boring people (just like me) who are amazing athletes (unlike me). It is the rare person who inspires others, and it is usually not the "best" person or the one who is at the top of its field.

    It is also ludicrous to think that Dean is a middle of the pack runner. He has consistently finished inthe top 20 men at WS (which is top 5% of the field).

    If you want the top ultra runners to get recognition outside of Ultrarunner magazine, then they will have to take the time to become more accessible, personable and most importantly, inspirationable (not sure if that is an actual word). Personally speaking, I would rather spend time with, listen to, read about someone who inspires me, than someone who has the most victories.

    On the other hand, I have learned way more from Scott and the other top ultra runners about nutrition, training, approach to races than from Dean (eventhough Dean's next book will be focusing on training and nutrition).

    It all depends on what you are looking for, inspiration, humor, nuts and bolts of training... I personally tell people about Scott winning ws 7 times and Hardrock this year much more than Dean's accomplishments..

    isn't it great that we can now have these conversations compared to not even being on the readar map

    lastly, why do you run, recognition, wins, acceptance, money, overcoming odds? It seems to me that Dean is a little more secure with his place in the ultra community than Scott is. Nevertheless, I would love to have dinner with either one of them to pick their brains on their strengths.

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  29. what a great interview with scott jurek! you can always count on the great tips scott gives for improving ourselves as endurance athletes.

    how can you possibly interpret what scott said about dean as an attack on what dean is doing to running in general? it is true that dk has inspired a lot of people to start walking/running/being active, but that's what he does for a living. he's a super nice guy and is also very accessible, but that's like me being nice to my customers because i get paid to do so. i ran the 49th marathon with him during his endurance 50 event. i saw first hand from that event, it's more about promoting the dk brand than anything else. although i don't see anything wrong with that. it's the guy's bread and butter. dk represents the dk brand, not running much less ultra running. he's a great athlete, but he's not the face of ultra running as the media portrays him to be. that's scott jurek's point. if the media wants to find some face(s) for ultra running, the sport, it shouldn't be dk. just like you wouldn't find baron davis as the face for the nba or vernon maxwell as the face for the nfl. it is frustrating whenever you tell people you do ultras and all they talk about is dean when i want to tell them there are a lot of other great ultra runners like scott, karl, david horton, nikki and the unbelievable ann trason. they are the people who should represent the sport. not to take anything away from dean's achievements, there are a lot more to ultrarunning than just dean. i would be pretty ticked off if dominiq wilkins was the face of the nba instead of michael jordan back then because i am a big basketball fan. that's the reason i think a lot of ultrarunners share similar sentiment about how the general public sees dean as the face of the sport. then again, we are talking about the american media here. i am sure we can all agree that the media is nothing but a bunch of sensation junkies.

    btw, to the guy above me, scott jurek did win the spartathon last year which happened to have some of the best ultrarunenrs from around the world participating. he won by a lot, too. there is nothing local or obscure about that race. it's one of the biggest ultra competitions on the international level.

    scott, sorry for going off a little bit here. :)

    btw, how's your knee doing since trt?

  30. You know, I really have to give it to the uber-blogger himself, in my opinion Scott Dunlap has pretty much nailed the reasons why Dean is so popular – and is indeed is more popular than the entire sport of ultrarunning itself. Just like Lance Armstrong, Dean is an example of an athlete whose popularity extends beyond the boundary of the sport (just think of how many non-cyclists are Lance fans – I know quite a few).

    Scott Jurek has a popularity that pretty much extends right to the boundaries of our sport. Every ultrarunner has heard of Scott Jurek (and certainly admires his accomplishments) but his level of exposure outside the sport (to the wider running and non-running community) is certainly quite limited.

    Both men are certainly incredible athletes. Both enhance the sport of the sport of ultra-running in their own unique ways. There’s plenty of room out there on the roads and trails for both men and for anyone else brave enough to get up off the couch and make a commitment to a fit and healthy lifestyle.

    Lots more comments on this topic the runnersworld.com forum also:


    Cheers, Paul Charteris
    Davis, CA

  31. Great comments, guys! It's helpful to hear how everyone thinks about this. I'm glad you guys liked the podcast too - I think they do a great job.

    To the anonymous commenter whose comment I deleted - happy to keep controversial comments on the blog, but you have to sign your name for them to stay up. Just repost with your name, and you're good.

    Scott Wolfe - don't like my pic selection? ;-) It took me a while to find a serious face on Scott Jurek. He smiles a lot! I tried to find a pic that best resembled the tone of the interview, but I probably went overboard. Lots of great pics of Scott on his Web site if anyone is looking for more.


  32. Oops, forgot to say - the knee/leg is healing well from TRT. It's mostly some muscle tension at the base of my quad from minor tearing. I ran on it the last two days, and it seems to be holding as long as the terrain isn't too steep. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for 12 Hours of Cool.

    But I will also say MY GOD the recovery from a 100 is tough! It took a week just to fit into normal shoes and be able to walk down stairs. The Grand Slam seems insane to me now. ;-)


  33. For Pete's sake- Scott Jurek is human, he can have opinions and thoughts about the sport he lives for. He works and trains incredibly hard. He is humble. In the mainstream, few no his name, but they know of Dean because he is a self-promotion machine. Who knows about Nikki Kimball, as Scott said? She has only been beaten once I think in any Ultra, anywhere, on American soil. She dominates and creams Dean Karnazes when they go head to head. She is a woman. But she just focuses on her races and training and her life, and doesn't get a boob job and a hair dye to drum up interest...and she doesn't write books about herself and take her shirt off and pose with muscles blazing. Yes, I can understand why the serious ultra community is upset. Dean may be a nice guy but so what. He's essentially a marketing machine...just like at any corporate company, and detracting away from the real workers who are putting in the hours.

  34. People who don't understand the reasons behind some of the negative comments made about Dean should read this SI article:


  35. I think we should all take a step back and realize that we are missing something very big here. First and last point: Has anyone other than me ever heard of a couple of guys named Ted Williams or Ty Cobb. I vote that everyone who has left a comment on this blog donate a couple of bucks so we can buy Scott J. a ticket to watch a MLB game in Seattle. Maybe he can get a glimpse of AL leading Ichiro (.347), who is definitely middle of the pack. What do you think Scott D., You think we can get this thing going? :)
    p.s. I'll even throw in the extra money for the giant foam finger!

  36. I don't know how to get the link to show up correctly. Here's the rest of it:


  37. Part of the appeal of ultrarunning is it's small community and competing in the solitude of nature. Perhaps it is to our benefit not to draw attention to the sport.
    Local trail races have become crowded enough with mainstream road runners. Do you want the same thing to happen to ultrarunning?
    I believe that Dean is a media machine, and that Scott is a purist of what embodies the sport.

  38. I've always thought that DK was an inspirational runner and reading his book really encouraged me; however, as I got more into ultrarunning I saw him as a media machine and realized that he's not "America's Greatest Distance Runner." Taking away a title that he doesn't deserve doesn't actually take anything away from everything he's done.

    Jurek is inspirational in the way that he goes about his business. I have to agree with him that when the biggest/only name that the media recognizes in your sport is a media hound people aren't going to dig deeper into the sport.

    The article on SI http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/ features/siadventure/ 28/murphys_law/
    will make you see DK in a different light than what is normally shown to the world.


  39. Scott, a question for you... If a major publication offered to feature you on the condition that you accept their award as "America's Greatest Athlete-Blogger", what would you do?

    (I'm not insinuating anything; the question is just a seed for further discussion.)

  40. I ran cross-country and track in college and I have NEVER gotten the media attention that Scott Jurek gets. I know many talented men and women who run in college and they don't get any media attention either. Scott Jurek did not run in college. The question should be. Why aren't the college runners in this county getting any press coverage.

  41. Even if this thread doesn't win the prize for most responses ever, it seems as if it might win for most ANONYMOUS responses ever!

    Thanks, as always, for the blog, Scott. Congrats again on TRT!


  42. Gotta love "ran in college" thing, really:) made my day.
    I'll hold my breath on the rest of stuff, although I am a little taken aback for stirring the contoversial when we're proudly calling ourselves a "tight knitted family". Lets be friends and run trails?

  43. Scott,

    What a fascinating discussion. It is great that you provide a forum for this. From my perspective both Scott and Dean are good for the sport.


    PS -- By the way, I've officially entered the Blogosphere (AJW's Blog). It's fun!

  44. I freely admit that I know less than 10% about running than the most uninformed poster on this blog, which is why I read Scott's inspiring articles rather than comment on them. However, I need to speak up on this one.

    I’m a new distance runner. Last fall, I reached the "I have enough" point in my career, and began looking for adventures and tests outside of the working world. Early this spring I read Dean's book. As a piece of writing, it's rudimentary at best, but I found the message to be extremely powerful. Before I read the book, I was a four times a week jogger who had never run more than 6 miles at one time. Last weekend I ran my first marathon and have set my sights on my next one in October.

    I can't say that Dean's book inspired me to do it, but it was the first ray of light. Since then the magazines, google searches, Scott’s blog, and the random runners I've chatted with while out in the early morning hours have opened up a new world for me. I have a different understanding of physical pain, of what my body is capable of, and of the strength of human will.

    If you are an experienced runner, I'm not sure you can fully appreciate the power of Dean's messages have for a novice. You're so used to pushing yourself, that "everyone can choose to run, and everyone chooses when to stop" is a lesson that may sound childishly simple. You’re used to pushing boundaries. But Dean is communicating that message to millions of people who have never heard it in a form they can understand. And some of those people may just start to believe that it’s possible for them to heave themselves off the couch and lead a more fulfilling life on the road.

    As I've learned more about Dean, I admit the ceaseless publicizing has gotten on my nerves. But what also gets on my nerves is the nasty comments made about him. Maybe it's because I'm slow and a weak competitor (particularly in comparison with you lot) but I thought that, in running, the true struggle was not with the other people in the race, but inside yourself. Of seeing how far you can push yourself. For me, hearing runners pull other runners down makes the sport seem more like the mainstream, ego driven, sports entertainment we’re force fed every day.

    This is just one rookie’s perspective, and I hope it does not offend. In fact, I hope to meet some of you at my next marathon, first first 50K, 50M, 100K or whenever the road brings us together. Scott, thanks for the great writing and (in particular) the great attitude you bring to the roads and trails.

    1. Spencer Templeton1/15/2016 06:52:00 AM

      Right on, David_Plastino! I completely agree. I read Dean's book, Scott's book, David Clark's book, Hal Koerner's book, Meb's book and others. And while none really compare to Grapes of Wrath; they all inspired me to run more. Dean's book was the first one I read - maybe because of his marketing sense.
      I've also been lucky enough to meet a number of elite runners; Liza Howerd, Dominic Grossman, Joe Uhan, Nicole Struder, Jason Schlarb and several others. They were some of the kindest, most supportive people I've ever met. They also seemed to all be friends as well as compeditors.
      I know Scott Jurek has had a rough time in the press lately, and perhaps the interviewer put him in an uncomfortable postion, but I hope he isn't really as jelous at the article makes him sound.
      And as to who is the greatest (male) long distance runner; everyone knows it Kilian Jornet - or Zach Bitter - or Mike Morton - or Max King. At least for today.

  45. It is kind of sad to read some of the posts and realize how engrained it has become in our society that it is ok to be dishonest. Can anyone tell me that Dean is "Americas Best Distance Runner" with a strait face and say it is not a lie? Why would he accept this? It is dishonest to do so. It seems like honesty doesn't mean anything today. I can't idolize anyone who lies about their accomplishments.

    Dean is a great athlete and he has done some good things. Should we overlook the fact that he is dishonest because he did some charity work?

  46. Scott, you did present this in a provocative way: Picture of Scott Jurek looking like he's pouting. "Apparently he's had enough of the Dean Machine." Quoting the thoughtfully mature, respectful, and oh-so-clever "pronounced Jerk" commentator.

    Having listened to the whole blogcast, I was dismayed at all the vitriol coming from the legions of Dean-worshippers. Such rancor is definitely absent in Jurek's comments. He wasn't slamming Karnazes personally as much as criticizing the way the media covers ultrarunning (and maybe the world in general).

    Plus, he was asked directly. Twice I believe. They were trying to get to say something real and interesting, instead of fluff-BS. What do you want him to say?--"I think Dean IS the best and the fact that the media ignores guys like me, Karl Meltzer, Nikki Kimball, Ryan Hall is OKAY because we just love running and training hard for the fun of it, and Dean inspires so many people."

    Why are you surprised at his commentary, Scott (Dunlap)? What surprises me is not Scott (Jurek)'s comments, which were very respectful and completely appropriate, but all the disrespectful, inppropriate trashtalk showing up on the EndurancePlanet website and your blog. Perhaps those responses only confirm the effectiveness of Karnazes' self-promotion, or the too common tendency to fabricate villains so you can hate them. How depressing. And so ironic.

    The Dean-media-phenomenon, with the simultaneous neglect of more accomplished, talented distance runners, also does not surprise me. As my wife says, "you can't hate Dean for being a great spin-doctor." I don't hate him, nor does Scott Jurek. But we have a right to our opinions these concocted awards and the belief there is room for improvement.

    As respectable or awe-inspiring as Karnazes' accomplishments, and as subjective as the word "best" can be, naming him "America's best distance runner" is a farce. You and any self-respecting distance runner know that. Maybe "America's most famous," "most inspiring" or "America's most celebrated and loved distance runner." I have no problems for people getting fame-earning awards for being famous. But "best runner" really is an insult to the true elite runners. Add Outside to the list of magazines to which I'll never subscribe again.

    Well, definite one of the more provocative posts, a very interesting listern, read and debate. And in response to Andrew, I don't mind at all, Scott, if you win more blog or nice-guy awards, either!

    I will have the balls to sign my name, last name included, even at the risk of uninformed, histrionic angry insults hurled at me. But hopefully everyone will chill, and be more empathetic and forgiving.

  47. Dave & Mark - Eloquently said. Thank you for sharing your opinions, and for focusing on Dean and Scott's contribution to the sport rather than "who's best". Per Mark's comments, I would suggest people listen to the podcast if they can before forming an opinion. Although I was shocked to hear Scott J's comments, in light of what Mark T said, one way of interpreting it is a frustration with the media in general, in which case in might not be so shocking. I agree with Mark that the commentary that I cut and pasted was in poor taste - I only did so to point out it is an emotional subject.

    Andrew - to answer your question about whether or not I would receive an award for "America's Greatest athlete/blogger", I think it would depend. If it was based on votes from the general population or a panel of other athlete/bloggers, I think I would be okay with it. But I see what you mean about the title of "America's Best" - it does feel awkward unless you have some recent American records under your belt.

    I would suggest that those that are frustrated with Dean K accepting an award as "America's Best Distance Runner" should focus their energy on the publication that announced it (Outside Mag, I believe) rather than the person who received the award. Mark T had it right - cast your vote by not reading, and letting them know it's a farce to leave out Meb, Ryan Hall, Deena, Scott J, Meltzer, Kimball, etc. The problem is that Outside's "panel of experts" may not be experts at all. I know Dean K was very frustrated when Outside claimed his 350 mile run was a world record, when he specifically told them it wasn't (Dean shared this issue with me before the article went to print in hopes I could help him correct it - but Outside insisted).

    AJW - welcome to the blogosphere! Thanks for sharing your stories. And congrats on your win at the Vermont 100! A bridesmaid no longer. You are Mark T are pretty incredible to start a blog with "my first 100 mile win".

    Thanks again all for the great dialogue. Once again, I think the comments have become far better than the blog entry itself.


  48. From enduranceplanet.com

    "Who knew endurance sports could be so controversial? This week's podcast with Scott Jurek definitely stirred up some tensions. Scott has offered to respond to the comments and we've extended the same invitation to Dean Karnazes. But that's for another day."

    Should be interesting...

    I definitely agree with Olga: "Let's be friends and run trails!"

  49. I can certainly understand where Jurek is coming from, it must be frustrating to be very good and see someone else get the spotlight. I don't know either guy, but it is hard to hold a grudge against DK for the attention he gets. He works for that attention.

    The one thing I will disagree with is that this is limited to this sport. In tennis, you have someone like Anna Kournikova getting load of attention despite not being one of the best tennis players. In sports like football or basketball, people know the guys who are flamboyant over players of greater substance. That is the way it works, if you are a media whore and have the talent to compete at a high level you are going to get more attention than someone who goes about their job quietly.

    Doesn't seem like brain surgery.

  50. What's unfortunate is not that the media follows Dean but that it does NOT follow Jurek, or Meb or Deena or Ryan Hall or any of the other extraordinary athletes. Instead, it picks Paris Hilton or Oprah's weight loss or anna Nicole smith.

    It takes a massive casualty total on a fallen bridge to make them forget about the steorided home run chase or Britney's latest child drama or what have you.

    Focus on the resurgent American running prowess or something positive. There is plenty of media to go around.

  51. I have to say Mark Tanaka was right on. He very eloquently articulated many veteran ultrarunners feelings I believe. Much better than I did myself in a post prior to his. Thanks Mark!

  52. Just listened to the Jurek Podcast and there is no question (in my mind anyhow) that he resents the attention that DK gets. Jurek's entire tone of voice changes, he is clearly bothered by DK's successes (whether real or imagined) etc. And it all sounds like sour grapes to me.

    Is SJ disingenuous? Listen to his comments about this year's Badwater. . .something about how it was an easy year because of cool weather. . . ! sounds like a whole lot of excuse making and justification to me.

    I suspect that SJ will soon, if not already, regret many of his comments. They serve no good.

    For what it's worth, the guy was put on the spot, and I suspect if he had it all to do again he would have been more measured and thoughtful in his reply. But controversy sells, and I'm sure the interviewer had a hand in baiting SJ in this direction.

    Who really cares if Dean wins the (coveted?) Best Outdoor Athlete ESPY award? Dean beat out a Bass Fisherman and a climber for the honor. It's just silly to complain about this sort of thing. Winning Hardrock is tough; winning the ESPY is a popularity contest. I voted for Dean because he's an Ultrarunner not because I really believe he is the best outdoor athlete--Brett Farve plays outside? What about the Ice bowl back in the 60's. That was outside and damn cold to boot!

    Professional (i.e. those with a degree of professionalism) Athletes know that rule number one is to never disrespect the competition. Let your record and the records of others speak for themselves. Give thanks to those who compete against you and be grateful that you have the chops to be in the top 1%.

  53. It is funny how all of the SJ supporters declare that Dean is only out for himself and is not interested in promoting ultra running. Western States never had a better endorsement reaching millions of people around the world than Dean's book and his humorous and inspiring race report from Western States. I am a newbie to the ultra world (ran my first 50 miler last year and dnf in this year's Western States, but will be back next year, stronger and smarter) and I can unequivocally state that the only reason I even considered running 50 miles last year was because of Dean's book. It was during my 50 miler that a runner told me that I could qualify for Western States if I finished under 11 hours (an easy feat to you hot shots on this blog, but a daunting task to a former 6-6 basketball player over 200 pounds). It was at 4 hours into the race that I decided to get it under 11 hours so I could enter the WS100 lottery. I finished (limped in) at 10:57. I entered the lottery, got picked and told everyone about it. Not to my surprise, most never envisioned that you can run 100 miles, let alone in one day. When they heard the word "ultramarathon" several claimed that they heard of Dean and was he the best out there. Key point to all of you Dean bashers, I answered to them that no, Scott Jurek is the best (listed his 7 titles in a row at WS100, Badwater record holder...) and that Dean has brought the ultra running world to the mainstream with his writing.

    The end result of my reading Dean's book (now twice) is that I am now a rather mediocre ultra runner (by the finishing time), but a crazy bad ass dad to my 3 boys on showing them what is possible for the average joe. I have learned about and from Scott Jurek, Nikki Kimball, Tim Twietmeyer (my hero for his passion and doing it all with a special needs child), Karl Meltzer, AJW (I just loved his enthusiasm at this year's WS finish), Lisa Batchen-Smith, my old coach, and probably the most accomplished coach today (she coaches Lisa Bliss, Winner of Badwater) and her great friend Marshall Ullrich. In truth, I rarely even mention Dean when I talk about the great achievements in the ultra world to my friends, family and anyone I meet when the topic comes up.

    What I am trying to say in a long winded manner, is that Dean opened the door for me to learn and be amazed about all of the great champions in this sport. In turn, I feel that I am now an ambassador for this great sport and everything it has to offer.

    Yes, the true champions of today's races should get more coverage, but don't hold it against Dean for his success and the coverage he gets. I thank Dean everyday for writing his book because it got this 42 year old sort of runner back in shape and has introduced me to the greatest test to man's mind and body, Ultramarathons.

  54. Good Heartfelt comment from Cyrus.
    Two great athletes... who both are doing great things in their own special way.

    NO way do I think Scott was bashing DK and IF HE Did dodge the question he gets about DK all the time, then he would be fake or phony...

    I am glad he shared his thoughts & feelings. Thanks for a great interview & thanks Scott J. for some great tips & advice.

    But like I said initially, two great athletes that do things that most of us can only dream about :-)

  55. Wow, this reminds me of why I got off the big ultra list.

    I don't know Dean but I do know Scott Jurek. Being known in my local "small pond" as that crazy guy who runs 100's of miles, every time the subject of running comes up these days, I am asked about Dean ("you ever heard of this guy ..."). It makes me want to puke! They will usually ask me about his book and I have nothing to say because I refuse to buy a copy.

    I'd rather talk about Scott and his accomplishments thank you - and that's racing or helping out at a race like he did this past weekend at the White River 50 mile trail championship.


  56. Scott Jurek and Dean Karnazes are both amazing athletes, no one can deny it. Perhaps we are all too willing to tear down the pawns of this media circus.

    Lets really look at who is to blame. Is it the athletes, the media, or the viewing public.

    I've read Deans book, I've read articles about both of the athletes, I've been known to watch television programs (regardless of time) because they featured one of these two or a host of others. I even came to Scott's website to read this article.

    formerly of the Runcast Weekly podcast.

  57. This is one reason why I don't subscribe to (but only lurk on) the ultralist. When Dean's name is mentioned, things get nasty.

    I've found this to be a rough guideline to how people feel about Dean:

    If you've run multiple ultras, especially distances at or above 50 miles, you have an 80% chance of not liking Dean.

    If you are a marathoner or an aspiring runner, you have an 80% chance of thinking Dean is the best thing that's ever happened to running, and the best ultra-athlete of all time.

    Dean's book was about himself, and he failed to mention certain accomplishments of many ultrarunners that have preceded him, or are his current peers. This is the crux of the issue that most "regular ultrarunners" have with Dean, from what I've gleaned.

    I don't really have a problem with this, because the book was supposed to be about Dean. The book was well written, and captured the imagination of many people, not just runners and aspiring ultrarunners.

    The media-storm surrounding Dean, partially because of the book, makes a lot of ultrarunners even more on-edge about the whole affair.

    I really don't care. Dean's a good athlete (and writer and self-promoter, yes), but he has inspired a lot of "couch cruisers" to get off of their butts and do something, (and maybe even try an ultra run). That's not bad, at all.

    That said, there seems to be a superhero love of Dean beyond all rational thought, among many of these folks. They're just not well informed when it comes to the accomplishments of scores of other ultrarunners.

    It's too bad. Everybody wants to blame the media, but really it comes down to a basic laziness that's inherent in our society. People only want to hear what they want to hear, and most won't dig beyond the surface of a subject; even a subject they claim to be interested in.

  58. Okay, let's be honest about something here. Dean has an amazing PR team behind him. And, i'm surprised it hasn't been mentioned, Nikki K. and Tim T. are teammates of his on The NOrth face. Ask any of them , and they all train together and support each other and run together.

    If SJ is really that frustrated by the lack of attention surrounding him, take a look at see who has helped take ultrarunning to the public and made it more popular -- DK and his crew at North face. Maybe he should talk to his sponsors' companys PR team.

    I think it's geat that the ultra world can come together, but must it mostly be about a sour situation? We should be psyched that DK has taken the liberty to make ultrarunning a public interest.

  59. And the posts just keep on growing and growing and growing...

    Dean's book was the gateway for me to move from just general fitness (and starting out with triathlons) and going into ultras. Scott Jurek and other ultrarunners, most from the Northwest (Yeah, I'm talking about YOU tc* and the rest of the Marathon Maniacs!!!) motivated me even more.

    Even though Scott Jurek's interview may seem annoyed at the whole "America's Best Distance Runner" award, you got to consider the source of that award. It's Outdoor Magazine for $%^& sake! The same magazine that tried to start a feud with Dean Karnazes and Pam Reed. The same magazine that made a claim that Dean running 350 miles straight was a world record. Outdoor Magazine is seriously messed up because of shenanigens like this. Mark Tanaka had it right when he says he's not going to get Outdoor anymore and I don't blame him.

  60. I really think that SJ's issue is with the media, not DK. A lot of people seem to think that you get media attention simply by being the best, but that has never been the case. You have to be upper echelon and media friendly. Since I don't know SJ or Nikki Kimball personally, I won't speak for them, but when I have seen them at races, they didn't strike me as the kind of people who would really enjoy a whole lot of media attention on themselves, though I am sure they would want it for their sport. I think if people focused on the fact that like him or not, DK has raised awareness on the sport. Like many, I read the book and now I seek out information on the net and am contemplating my first ultra next year. DK gave me an intro to the world of ultras and now I seek out info from people like those already mentioned and local legend Tim Twietmeyer. Another thing to consider is relatability. Personally TT has cast the largest shadow on me, because despite the fact that people have run faster, his record of excellence speaks to an incredible commitment to the sport he loves and the fact that as a local, you see him at runs all the time. Talk about a down to earth, nice guy, which seems to be something he has in common with most ultra runners I have had the chance to talk to.

    Scott D., keep up the great work! I don't know how you do it, but like it or not, you have become one of the giants of the sport due to your witty, candid and reliably frequent musings. You might not run quite as fast as the Jureks and Kimballs of the world, but you put people in touch with a world they otherwise might not have access to. People get their inspiration from odd places and much of this runner's comes from your blog and the many fine contributors.

  61. Hi Scott,

    first of all I'm pretty un-dogmatic (or maybe detached is the better word) about this whole debate especially in regards to DK vs SJ view/position/behaviour/etc.

    Second point, I'm not adding any new angle to this debate especially given there have been some excellent replies which probably cover pretty much everything already.

    One thing though without any doubt that this episode highlights is how the 'media' to a large extend works...it amazes me nearly daily how some things make it into the press while other's don't or the randomness of emphasis given to one story vs another.

    Now is this the fault of the media or the audience who buys into this? In my view there's blame on both sides...but this is definately a completely different discussion.

    And why all this attention whenever somebody speaks out there mind rather than pussyfooting around a topic...what does this say about us/the media?

    In short therefore I would agree with some previous comments that ultimately this is a debate about the 'media' and not SJ vs DK.

    And again as already mentioned there are many other similar examples in other sports too...e.g. football (or as you call it soccer) and David Beckham...without a doubt he gets the most media coverage (as you've probably noticed re his move to LA Galaxy)...but I doubt many would claim he's the best footballer walking the planet today (though in this case even the ones that don't get that level of media attention are more than enough compensated given the salary levels in football over here)...

    Oh BTW I should point out again (as mentioned above) I'm pretty detached of this debate, but do think you/your blog
    deserves to break a 'personal' record and therefore I decided to add my comment too :-)

    Though in my view for example your excellent race report on Tahoe was far more interesting and worthy
    of such frantic commenting activity :-)

    Keep up the excellent work on your blog including mixing things up with occaisonally including some
    'controversial' topics in it...

    Mick (UK)

  62. Before I comment....I'm very new to ultrarunning & marathon running....I've only been involved for about 2yrs. Prior to this, in my younger days, I was an avid tennis player.

    Scott has every right to feel the way he does....Dean has every right to do what he does.

    This may not be the best comparison, but John McEnroe was on hell of a PR machine in his days. YES, he did win some great championships & is a great player. However, he's no Pete Sampras & we could probable name 50-100 players that are/were better than him. But hell, he sure did do a lot for the sport of tennis.

    Maybe Dean isn't the best ultrarunner....maybe he's not the best ESPY athlete we've seen. But he sure has brought a lot of attention to the sport of ultrarunning.

    One day we will look back and remember Dean as being the person who did so much for the sport, regardless of his personal or financial motivation.

    Thanks to both Scott & Dean for making ultrarunning a better sport.

    Tom Jr.

  63. Just one more comment, to my comments above.

    Dean has done a lot for the sport....but he has done so much more for people. There must be thousands of people that are running & exercising more today because of Dean.

    Tom Jr.

  64. well, I just wanted to be the one to break the record for the number of comments to one of your blog entries.

  65. Can we nominate Glenn (gtach) for the next ESPY award for breaking the record for comments? ;-)

  66. I have an amusing story regarding Dean K. (I have never met him).
    I was pacing at WS in 2005. My runner was at one of the aid stations along Cal St. well past dark, nursing some serious stomach issues with broth and sprite. I was having a great time hanging out and watching flashlights make there way down to the station and new people coming into the station in various conditions. I struck up a conversation with two college age gals volunteering there, asking the usual... where are you from? Do your run ultras? These two giggly young gals were from San Diego, had read Dean's book and were "inspired" enough to drive up to WS to check it out! I was laughing on the inside when they told me that, but I think outwardly I said that it is great that they were there and I hope they sign up for a race sometime, as there are tons in So. Cal to choose from. I have never been a "groupie" of any "famous" person, so this interaction was so funny to me. Are girls flocking to races to drool over Scott Jurek? Once while volunteering at Mac Donald forest 50k an eager fan yelled "here comes the lead woman!" To her embarassment I informed her that it was Scott J.

    It has already been said, that physical appearance and charisma is what draws the media, also people who promote themselves and/or their lifestyle. I think that Dean promotes himself, and Scott promotes his vegan lifestyle.
    If I were to choose an ultra runner to hear more from it would be Nikki Kimbal. She is a super talented athlete who also seems to live a normal balanced life. (she drinks beer and eats steak!!)

    I'm sure that both DK and SJ are nice people trying to do what is right in their eyes. However, neither make my top ten list of people I'd like to have dinner with :)

  67. O.K., I propose a 400 mile trail race...just Dean and Scott. No aid, no pacers, no frills. Man versus Man, to the death (or finish, whichever comes first)

  68. Mark Tanaka and Badben said it for me.

    I finally heard the entire podcast. As busy as I am, it took two sittings to get through it all, but I didn't want to post before listening to all of it.
    I think the only rudeness I heard was the reporter's question. It was rude to ask Jurek that specific question.
    In answering it, Jurek practically never mentions Dean. He seemed to be speaking almost about concepts that he finds disturbing. Periodically it was obvious he had to be refering to somehting that had to be specifically about Dean, but I never got the idea that Jurek was attacking. On the contrary, Jurek tried to word things in the least-offensive way possible. And Jurek was answering kind of off-the-cuff. He did a decent job.

    I haven't lost respect for either of these guys.

    I read Dean's book. Some bits are far-fetched but not at all offensive. He has a fantastic gift of gab. Sure he self-promotes, but I always got the impression that he's good guy.

    Two totally different styles. Neither wrong.

    Olga said it well, too. Let's just get along and run trails.

    Great blog, Scott. You are the best ultra running blogger.

  69. I find it amazing that no one has brought up what Scott Jurek has done for the public. Working as a PT while helping Scott McCoubrey cement his influence on the Seattle running scene at the Seattle Running Company, personally Scott has influced hundreds if not thousands of folks. I would go as far to say I am sure he has changed hundreds of lives. You don't have to see it on TV or read it in a book or magazine to have that effect.

  70. I think its sad that all the focus is towards those that finish first in these ultra distance events. Isn't it enough to just finish running 100 miles in the acceptable time limit! I can only hope to do it someday and perhaps I will, but not anywhere near the top.

    Scott Jurek and Dean Karnazes are both amazing athletes. Scott perhaps being somewhat more gifted. However, that dosn't take anything away from Dean, I would consider him exceptional as well.

    I don't see any harm in writing about one's experiences in training and challenges while running ultra endurance events. I learned a lot about the sport through Dean's book. I can only hope that Scott writes a book as well. Why dosn't he? I'm sure he would sell a few copies.

    Being labeled best this or that is always a very subjective topic be it art, music, or whatever. Things chance year to year as well. Perhaps someday we will have some of the top eastern African runners enter the sport. Will things get a little more interesting then? Just some thoughts...

  71. Do you really think that Scott is saying this because he is lacking attention...? Have you ever seen the crowd he draws? He's not speaking up just for himself, in my humble opinion, he's just voicing the fact that the press isn't equally distributed. Fine, 50 states 50 days, great, but everything else seems to be just publicity fluff. If the other accomplished runners (Scott referred to) had the outlet that he mentioned that they don't, they would most likely be saying the same thing.

    I think Dean should take notes from Scott (lots of them) – using his platform to bring attention to other hard working Ultrarunners. Because we are seriously all sick of him! You thought Scott wasn't being a humble winner... hello!?!

  72. Who is Scott Jurek?


    You can listen to Dean respond to Jurek's intense (although, completely valid) criticisms ... and laugh like I did ... in a new interview he just gave:

    TFS Podcast 83: DEAN KARNAZES on the ESPY, 24-hr record, and criticisms from Scott Jurek

  74. hahahhaha....Jureks a crybaby who can't get the attention he wants....I have a lot of respect for the things he and other ultra runners do...but it's not a big time sport....you have to promote yourself if you want attention....

    I love that he says that the more 'elite' runners should get the attention....So he is basically saying everyone should focus on him....grow up peter pan...Don't hate Dean for being a great athlete and an even better promoter....

    Jurek is embarassing.

  75. Dean is the man. Too bad for this chump that Dean is one of the most inspirational people in the world. Tell this guy to stop crying, if it was really all about the sport this guy would not have a problem

  76. Dean K is a joke, plz. A big hoax

  77. Look at the 24h race championchip in Korea.
    The standings after 10½h.


    Dean K is not very good racer. He is as someone said a BIG joke

  78. RE:

    "Anonymous said...
    Look at the 24h race championchip in Korea.
    The standings after 10½h.


    Dean K is not very good racer. He is as someone said a BIG joke"

    Seriously? A comment like this and you can't even print your name?

    As it happens, Scott didn't finish the Ultracentric 24hr run in November of 2008 (as he discusses on his blog http://www.scottjurek.com/blog/)

    Now a question, does this make Scott a joke? HARDLY. He really is one of the greatest American runners of all time.

    If it applies to one runner, it should apply to another. If Dean's a joke, then Scott is too. I don't think it's even remotely true of either of these gentlemen.

    I'm glad there are people like Scott & Dean, who in their different ways, give us mere mortals something to strive for.

  79. You know...
    Dean says over and over, "I don't have any special powers, I'm not even fast or the best... But I can endure alot of pain." He does other sports as well.

    The angle of this article is showing Scott is bashing Dean for hogging the spotlight.

    Well ya know what Scott. Where is your book? Alot of people would like to read something about you and learn your training and philosophy. But no at your height of fame you chose to go into obscurity.

    Least Dean is out there sparking interest in the sport. and showing you don't have to be a health nut to get involved or sacrifice your job or other sports to do it.

    if this article is genuine, Scott is a spoiled baby off the trail.

  80. One interview can expose who a person really is--get behind the public image--that's what this one does to Scott--very,very disappointing.
    Can Dean run well? Sure he can,take a look at his record over the years. Is he a self-promoting opportunist? Obviously. But,that's his thing,not mine,Scott's or anyone elses problem.

  81. .500 avg would be the greatest ball player ever lived. I would chip in to get him a ticket to an MLB game.

  82. When I became interested in ultras a couple of years ago, I started reading about endurance running. The first two athletes I recall reading about were Dean and Scott (in that order). I was, and still am amazed and astonished by their respective accomplishments. I respect them both for inspiring me, as well as for what they have done for ultra running. In this case, I'd rather not pick a side, nor disrespect either athlete based on a few words. I have no doubt that both Dean, Scott and many other talented athletes will continue to lift up this wonderful sport, disproving the impossible, and paving the way for others like us to fulfill our dreams. It's all good...Happy trails...

  83. Jurek, don't be so naive. look at football, do you really think T.O. and Ocho Cinco are the best wide receivers in football? Karno has made his life public and shares his personality with the public (hint hint). Karno is entertaining and an athlete. If you really only care about winning on the courses then why are you giving quotes about karno at all?

  84. I find it unreal that people just don't get it, I've met both runners and both are nice guys but lets look at this another way suppose you're at work and you are the best worker the company has ever seen but all the credit goes to your fellow employee who is basically taking credit for your job. I think you might be a little annoyed too, and we've all been there.
    Scott is the Lance Armstrong of ultra running period. To have someone else grab that title is just wrong. It would be a thorn in your side if someone less than was making a boat load of money on something you are the champion at while you make zero, I'd like to see who'd be humble about that.

  85. I met Dean at the San Diego marathon a few years ago. He was a really nice guy answered qs and posed for a million pics. His book inspired me when training for my first marathon. you can't blame guy for trying to make a buck and doing a good deed along the way. Jerk needs to keep his mouth shut and let his running do the talking. Take the high road brother.

  86. Dean is a fraud, he can't run for shit! Watch his latest video on facebook, he claims to be a superhuman because his lactate levels don't rise at snail's pace (8 mph)... Let the guy run a 400 or 800 then we can talk about lactate levels. he is also a heel striker, the commentator thinks it's a great running technique, what a sham.

  87. I agree with several of the commenters above that Dean's name is out there because he's willing to share of his own story. He's a positive, energetic, charismatic individual, and people like that. He inspires others to look at, get involved, or, like me, keep pressing on not simply in running, but in life and career, because of his willingness to share and engage with others. He's a dynamic character with a diversity of talents that he seems often to use for the sake of others (i.e. raising awareness and/or money).

    Why would people not focus on an individual like this ... in contrast to other ultra runners who remain reserved? Ultra running is not about 'winning races', particularly to the average person. It is about character, guts, limits, exploration, the hows and the whys. This is what people are drawn to and what they want to share in. If someone isn't willing to share this stuff - Scott for example - he/she is not going to be particularly interesting to the public/media.

  88. Dean may not be the most experienced or the fastest ultra-marathon runner there is out there, and he may well indulge in a bit too much self-promotion but hey, if I could get free gear or a bit of cash to follow my passion then bring it on.

    Dean shares his love of running with a global audience and inspires people to get off their butts and start running and maybe even tempts one or two to give a 100 miler a go. That's what makes him great - he holds nothing back to share a gift with anyone and everyone and if just one person has a better life for it then I think I am at least willing to endure a little Dean-o-mania knowing that there is one more sorry sole running through the night with a smile on their face because of it. It is a shame more ultra-marathon runners do not promote the sport, life and wonderful experiences that come with it.

    ....and remember , regardless of the bling, pom poms, book deals etc he actually does do the distance.

  89. Honestly I see where Scott is coming from. If Dean is getting titles while other more accomplished athletes are not, then I can see the frustration. I think Scott probably recognizes that the publicity Dean gives to the sport is probably better than a lack of it, though.

    Scott probably should have kept his mouth shut but I don't see anything too wrong with his opinion, which he's entitled too... and I don't think detracts from his image. I think Dean, although a bit of stuntman and pr machine, is still inspiring people and deserves credit for whatever he accomplishes.

  90. Personal I think Dean is good at enduring pain and running long long long distances. Although I did the work and on athlinks 67% of his races are marathons. Are they training or what. Personally for me it displays a bad image of Dean when it shows him running eight and a half minute miles in a marathon and coming in 200th in his age group......

  91. I like Scott and Dean. Scott is clearly jealous of the attention that Dean gets. I don't think Dean is doing anything bad. He motivates people to run. Bam Margera is one of the world's most famous skateboarders, but is not the best skateboarder in the world. Travis Barker is one of the world's most famous drummers, but is not the best drummer in the world. Why are they popular? Because they're "exceptional" at what they do, they look good doing it and they have personality. And personality goes a long way. Dean is the same when it comes to endurance running. He is not the best, but he is exceptional, looks good and has a lot of personality. That is the formula, love it or hate it. I admire both Scott and Dean equally, but I think Scott's comments regarding Dean are a disappointment.

  92. What have we got here?

    Well, both Dean and Scott are one of the best in one of the elite sports (alteast I consider it as). Scott is certainly better than Dean. Post my firt 50k run - I was curious to know about Endurance Running. What did I do? Googled about Endurance Running and Landed up on Ultra Marathon. What did I figure out? Dean Karnazes is the face of the Ultra Running, atleast for the guys new to the sport. I started an extensive research on Dean Karnazes and certainly he is my inspiration. Most of us have had desk jobs like Dean had. So, the story and life of Dean's goes well. Plus he is smart is letting the world what he is doing. Dean, has never claimed that he is the best in the business. He has always in all his books has been humble and ensured that there are better people than him in the business. But through his impeccible marketing and PR strategies, he is on the top. Scott on the other hand maintained low profile. In a sport like Ultra Marathon, you gotta let the world know what you are upto and that is Dean did. He was smart! No disrespect to Scott, either he should PR himself or just keep doing what he is doing at. If the new bees in the sport are knowing Scott, it is because of Dean. Well, I landed up on this page looking about information about Dean. :) Love you Dean ! All the way from India, Bangalore :)

  93. I would have to actually completely agree with Scott's views on this. Dean, he's a great guy, but a definite self promoter. Don't get me wrong, Dean deserves the promotions, but it's a little pompous to give them to yourself.

  94. I used to respect jurek after this article. I even felt sorry for him after is wife left him. I knew. Scott was mean and bitter. Maybe if Scott was as nice, outgoing and personable as dean, then he would get the same attention as dean. Why dont they work together? Bottom line is......Scott is a (fill in the blank)!!!!!

  95. He must be real mad because batting .500 would be just a tad better than outer worldly.

  96. Interestingly, Scott recently published a book of his own. Certainly taking a page from the Karnazes PR machine. I was very curious as to how an ultrarunner could write a 200 plus page book and not make ANY mention of Dean Karnazes. I respect both athletes and Scott is certainly a true racer and has many more wins to his credit, but Dean has always maintained that he isn't the best in the sport. Scott's book is fantastic and shows that he does have a personality, but it did surprise me that he totally ignored the one person that brought ultrarunning to the mainstream.

  97. Scott said what other have been saying for awhile. To all you Dean fans stop kicking one of the nicest people I have ever met. This is about the media not being real. Its a rare picture used to show Scott, He is usually smiling!

    Larry Willman
    Silverdale WA.

  98. I can totally feel where Scott is coming from. I also must say though that Dean was my initial inspiration to get into ultra's and took the time to correspond with me while I was deployed to Iraq. Dean is an exceptional runner and has many accomplishments under his belt. While I am now just as big of fan of many other of the top runners in the sport, I remain a Dean fan because he does much to inspire others to run and be fit. I can also not fault a person for turning his passion into a career. The media will always focus on those that can sell themselves and Dean does that very well. All I can say, is that in an obscure sport, if one wants media attention they will have to learn to market themselves. Dean is not a mid-packer though, even though he is not up to the performance of Jurek at this time either. Have learned a lot from both. Bob Boeder was also an initial inspiration of mine and I don't know if he has ever won any major race. Simply a man that marketed himself and wrote a book.

  99. The running community should be happy for ANY publicity it gets. It's not the NFL or MLB, ya know.

  100. From the podcast, I believe Scott Jurek's points are the following:

    1. Promoting ultrarunning to the masses is admirable.

    2. Promoting ultrarunning to the masses through deceitful publicity is despicable.

  101. Dean doesn't come across as a humble man in his books. And he has a very good PR machine. I'm not buying anymore of his books.

  102. Remember Scott was born and raised in northern Minnesota. He's not "Minnesota nice" more like passive aggressive. Don't let Jerk fool you. Sounds more like jealousy to me.
    -Jay Duluth, Minn

  103. Ok Scott, you are a Ultra Runner Elite, did you do it for the money and the fame? of course not, so why let it bother you now. Marketing is marketing, and Dean is mostly in the marketing spot light because thats how it landed, accept it and move on.

  104. First and foremost I have nothing but respect for those who love running. Even more so for those who run ultras because it takes a little extra to will yourself beyond what most people would call a heck of a long way.
    As for Scott and Dean - I have read both their books and they both came off a bit false modest at times but who wouldn't when writing about your accomplishments. With Dean, I was impressed by his drive to run further even if the emphasis isn't so much on the faster part as well as his overall enthusiasm and desire to encourage others to run. I was also impressed by his family focus (bearing in mind that his family members do a lot of sacrificing to make it work - but they do it together). With Scott - I was impressed with his desire for greatness. He wants to win. I however, was disappointed with his lack of commitment to his first wife. As I read his book I kept feeling like he was whining about not being free of all commitment as he constantly left his wife behind to train and race with Dusty (also bearing in mind that his wife probably wasn't willing to make as many sacrifices as he was asking). I just thought he treated his marriage as if it was a secondary thing and a burden and I lost a little respect for him. Lots of respect for his running but not so much for his priorities. I did also catch a few comments in his book that seemed to be stabs at Dean so he definitely has some resentment. We all have athletes we don't like for some reason or another but there should always be some measure of respect for their accomplishment, their ability, and their drive to succeed even if we find them to be scuzzy people (for me that would be Kobe Bryant).

  105. I have read all their books and feel that their personalities are well represented. Dean sees life from "the cup is half full" mentality while Scott sees life from "the cup is half empty" point of view. Nothing is wrong with either views, but most of us are more attracted to the people whose view of life is more upbeat and find them very inspiring. The media and business owners who sponsor Dean are likewise attracted and inspired by him as a person and athlete. He doesn't need to keep winning all the races, but he had proved that he could many times. As an overweight person, reading Deans books helped me on my way into becoming a runner. Sure, everyone, including Dean has bad days, but he doesn't dwell upon it, he runs out of it. Maybe Scott should do the same.


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