Friday, March 14, 2008

Yiannis Kouros - Ultrarunning's Penultimate Elite/Elitist(?)

Few would argue that Greek runner Yiannis Kouros isn't one of the most phenomenal endurance athletes the world has ever seen. His world records (particularly the multi-day records) are so staggering, they stretch the mind about what is humanly possible. But read his blog/Web site lately, and it feels like he is crossing the line from "elite" to "elitist". Mr. Kouros and his Racing Manager are the latest to jump in on the Dean-bashing (Karnazes, that is), and in doing so, have taken the elitism to a level I have never seen before.

Before I say anything else, I should note that I've never met Mr. Kouros. I've only read his blog, and of all people I should be sensitive to drawing conclusions about somebody based on their blog entries alone. ;-) But take a look at some of the latest blog entries on his site and you'll see what I mean. Something has happened between ESPN and Dean Karnazes that have put Kouros and his Racing Manager in a flaming fury. Take a look at this entry for starters:
A proposal from Yiannis Kouros' racing manager:

To whom it may concern, I represent Mr Yiannis Kouros, as his racing manager. Because too much and foolish noise has been made from one self-made “ultra-marathonner” and from the deceived and/or paid media, I propose the following:
Because athletes gain their value with performances in competitive events and not through self made events or self-advertisements, I propose a race of 1000km or a 6-day where the top ladies of the sport should be invited to run as well with the “fittest man”, starting with him. He has to win in order to qualify. If he comes behind even from one of the ladies he is not qualified. If he is successful, then he could continue for the next step to race with Yiannis Kouros, who is accepting to give him (to the “fittest man”), a 6 hour front start. Even if Y. Kouros belongs to a much older age group category, he is giving the other runner an equal opportunity in terms of age, on top of the 6-hour front start. The race should follow all the other internationally set regulations. Thus, it could be proven if the people are deceived by unofficial claims or not.

The Yiannis Kouros racing manager, I. Tsimplis
Yowza! Then cap it off with his most recent entry, which starts with a quote from the bible:
Mat 24:11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.

An announcement-statement from Y. Kouros manager, addressed to Journalists who approach or bother Y. Kouros:
Just by thinking of the “self-promoted ultra-marathonner”, who has not even a national record, who claims unofficial solo runs as his credit, which, anyway, thousands of people can do, they shouldn’t even approach Mr Kouros. Real Ultra-runners, like Mr Kouros feel sorry for those journalists and, because of them, the American public that are so easily deceived and cannot grasp something very obvious: A number of claims that do not have any value and a book with many lies...
"Real ultrarunners"? "American public that are so easily deceived and cannot grasp something very obvious"? Are you kidding me?!? I checked out the ESPN article, and I'm not sure what he's so pissed about. But holy cow!

Check out the Kouros Web site and perhaps you will do what I did - read it over and over, shocked that someone of Kouros' stature (or any ultrarunner for that matter) would say such things. Maybe his world of ultrarunning is way different than mine. For me the community, the friendship, and the respect for anyone who can do the distance defines what is best about this sport no matter how they taut themselves or make a living. But apparently we're not "real ultrarunners"...?

Kouros may be the most elite ultrarunner of our time. Based on what I've read, I think he may be the most elitist as well.

Somebody please tell me I'm wrong. Tell me you know the guy and this ain't him. Please, please give me something other than his insensitive Web site to draw a conclusion. And if Kouros is reading this, please let me do an interview with you here to set the record straight, and I will print it word for word what you write with no editing.

Okay, my rant is done. I'm going to go for a long, solo run with a big ass smile on my face. You can call me whatever you want, it's still going to be fun. ;-)



  1. All I have to say to that is, "GOOOOOOOOO DEAN!"

    Do you think Mr. Kouros would beat me severely if I accidentally - on purpose - tripped him on the trail?


    1. Let me begin by saying, I have corresponded from time to time with Yiannis. He has always been kind and considerate. Secondly, and this is very important, Yiannis' understanding and comprehension of English is really limited,in fact it's poor.Here's what I think--Yiannis is a human being, like all of us, a flawed human being. Do you know what events in his life have brought him to the place he is now? I see scripture quotes within this article, how about a little understanding and compassion for a runner who is the greatest of all-time? Could it be at near 60, Yiannis can no longer deal with what he clearly sees as his diminishes performances and is not dealing with it as you would expect someone to? As far as demands, could it be that his handler(manager)is writing and calling the shots? And finally, is Yiannis so concerned with maintaining what he views as the purity of the sport that he lashes out at those he feels are publicly corrupting it with "event"? Cut him some slack people the man deserves it.

  2. gb: Advocating hurting Yannis Kouros is disgusting. You've brought yourself well below his level.

    Yannis brings up some valid points about Dean and his marketing juggernaut. Nothing that needed to be spoken publicly, but good points no less.

  3. I'm going out on a limb here, but I think she was kidding.

  4. New to the sport, I know nothing about Yiannis Kouros personally. I know he is probably currently the best ultrarunner of our day (his world records show for that), but I know nothing of him as a person. Hence it is hard to judge him, but it's safe to say he had no influence in bringing me into the sport.

    I have read Dean's book and watched and participated in his huge media events, and this is how I learned of this wonderful sport. He opened himself up to the world and shared what it feels like to be an ultrarunner.

    Dean may not be the fastest guy on the block, but he sure helped people discover the love and fun of this sport. So it is Dean I have to thank, not Yiannis. I'm sure there are thousands more that feel the same way.

  5. Relax, Jack. It was a joke. Wow.

  6. This is such BS. It's the product of old-style linear thinking, amplified by raw jealousy. A is "better" than B by a fixed standard. Sure, maybe Dean can't run as far in six days as YK. So what? At his own level, Dean has given us a magnificent tale of personal expansion, and expansion is inspiring for everyone. Sorry, YK baby, but values aren't absolute, they're directional, and you've just joined the Church of Contraction, Fretting, and No-Joy.

  7. Is that a non-denominational church? ;-)

    I think they have both brought a lot to the sport in different ways. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, Kouros included. I guess what really got me about his site was drawing a line between "real ultrarunners" and the rest of us, bashing Americans, etc. It just seemed far more elitist than necessary.

    GB - Be to use the winking emoticon, the universal sign for "I'm kidding". ;-) It has the same power as Ricky Bobby saying "with all due respect".

    Thanks for the comments, guys!


  8. Dean has brought the sport to the masses and if that inspired the uninspired to push themselves further than they have ever pushed themselves in their lives he deserves a lot of credit. It is unfair for so many elite ultrarunners to continue to stab Dean. He has done what they couldn't, bring popularity to the sport.

    It isn't about bringing money to the sport or sponsorship. When money enters the sport the purity of the sport that makes it different than others will be lost. I do, however, agree that more attention needs to be focused on the elite runners in the sport. Nationally they are not given enough recognition. Yiannis Kouros is the best ultrarunner EVER hands down, and those comments are very unfortunate.

  9. This kind of "smack-talk" is what makes less congenial sports fun to spectate. Mr. Kouros has just re-filled the Karnazes media engine by creating a news-worthy story.

    I'm not used to seeing this kind of bad blood between distance runners. I thought only sprinters resort to this type of behavior ;)

  10. Scott

    I'm totally with you on this one. I was completely appalled to see Kouros comments such as "charlatan" to describe Dean on his website. Dean's achievements are authentic and incredible, irrespective of whether or not they are specifically the "fastest" or "longest" record in an event.

    His marketing and promotional skills have opened up the world of ultra running to many through his events, press and book..

    Denigrating Dean, diminishing his achievements and attacking his character is completely unsportsman like.

    This smacks of a more aggressive form of whining that we have seen from Jurek and others in the past towards Dean.

    Maybe these guys are just jealous and should go get a publicist.

    Surely the ultra sandbox is big enough for all these fragile egos?

    Dean - if you are reading - keep powering on.

    Jim B.

  11. Would love to know what ticked off Kouros. His monk like obsession with running that led to his greatness belies the petty tone of this rant. After watching his video Forever Running:

    "The verb ‘endure’ is not a physical verb, it's a spiritual one. Endure means to withstand…you must be patient and then do solid training. Without patience, you will never conquer endurance." Yiannis Kouros

    I cant imagine the man in that move saying this crap, unless he was slighted in a way we will never know. Or, his manager might be a nutbar. The rant was pretty much right of Borat if you ask me.....

  12. scott,
    i've been reading your blog for about a year now and never commented. your race reports are truly inspiring and push me to go farther every day.

    the thing about dean that most people leave out is that before he was a runner he was a marketer. it's in every runner's blood to be proud of their accomplishments. it just so happens that dean's blood is also mixed with the desire and know how to share these accomplishments with others. marketers (i'm one of them) want to connect with the outside world. the good ones believe in what they are selling and want to make others understand and even feel the same passion they have for the product or in this case sport they are selling.

    i don't think dean has done anything wrong and if it wasn't for him no one would be talking about these other dudes, be it yk or jurek.

    seriously, who ever heard of this dude from greece before this. apparently he's been around forever living like a monk in his own world. i don't understand the dean bashing especially because i've NEVER heard dean say he's better than anyone else. he has personal goals and he goes for them. people cover it because he's killing it and he's the best known to the media. nowhere have i seen him say he's the best. at the most he claims to be the most passionate about the sport not the fastest or the best.

    cut the crap everyone. running and ultrarunning are not about being the fastest and the best. they're about challenging yourself and killing your own goals and/or demons.

    get over yourselves and hit the trails. take deep breaths. look around and realize you're alive.

    we're more alive than the average couch potato but we don't do it to dance on their graves...

    i hope that was coherent.

    i love your blog and it inspires me every day. keep it up!


  13. Scott,

    I'd like to see Dean and Yannis battle it out in a challenge that really matters. Hmmmmmmm.... let me think...

    ...they could see who can run 1,000k the fastest - that would make Yannis feel really good about himself

    …they could see who can hold his breath longer – that answers nothing

    …they could see who can eat the most pizzas over the course of a 100 mile run – that would make Round Table Pizza happy and Dean would win that hands down

    …they could see who can raise the most money for charity before the end of 2008 – wow, that helps a lot of people, brings a lot of attention to good causes, casts ultra running in a better light, and may even create an opportunity for these two inspiring runners to join forces.

    I think they should do that!

    BTW Yannis, I don’t think you have a chance at raising more money than Dean.


    Ryan Commons

  14. Hey Ryan - you have focused on what is really important with a sense of simplicity and humour!

    Like Scott said, there is no doubt that he is the greatest long distance/ultra runner that the world has ever seen.

    I'm thinking he's a pretty complicated guy. His bio is full of almost biblical/godly comparisons and with life goals of "completion of the physical, intellectual and spiritual" and "trancendance" and "utilizing his mental and spiritual power".

    Life has got to be COMPICATED being such a talented, passionate greek man!

    While I do not judge Yiannis, I might remind him of his other purpose in life according to his bio:

    "He aims to get people inspired and alert, so they can discover and utilize the unconditional abilities of human beings, in order to bring (beyond personal improvement) unity, friendship and harmony to the world."

    Now THAT is a admirable goal that we can all relate to! Even a simple uncomplicated individual like myself, or Dean Karnazes or Yiannis Kouros can relate to this and aspire to do the same!

    Thanks for listening all.

  15. Did you get the email about Rucky Chucky having no aid for 13 miles out, which also means 13 miles to the end? Oh well...I'll see you at the race!

  16. I've heard so many derrogatory statements about various runners. Dean is a favorite target of many.
    I try to be understanding of people's views. If someone says they don't like someone, I want to understand why and how.
    I've come to "understand" why my friends don't like Dean, but it strikes too close to home.
    Of course, lacking Dean's prowess (for sure!!) I am wired much like him...
    My whole life, I've been a "nobody", but I've been inspired and now I run tons of races, mainly ultras, and some people are starting to look up to me.
    Many of my friends (again, with more prowess than me) try to be humble and hide their greatness in the name of humility. They scold me if I let anyone know what great feats they've done.

    Okay, here's where they chap my hide!
    I'm not the most impressive guy, but I'm twice the person I would have been if it hadn't been for people I've met of great accomplishment. Where would I be if I had never heard of anything great that any of them had done?
    So humility is only okay to a very limited extent. At some point, if you get too "humble", you're guilty of selfishness. I think when you do great things, it becomes a RESPONSIBILITY to spread the wealth. You want your privacy? Too bad! Life is about people! Join the frickin' party!
    Maybe I'm being to harsh? But I think I understand why people are extremely humble and hate Dean, and I think I understaand grand-standers like Dean. But I think I lean more towards the Dean Factor, myself.
    I've never met Dean. I don't want to exalt, nor malign anyone I've never met, but I think anyone who wastes energy finding fault with peoploe just because we're all wired differently and approach life with a different premise - the negative sentiments are doing more harm than what they're critisizing.

    Let's all just RUN!

    Great blog, Scott! I don't always agree with you but I always appreciate your candor and the diverse subjects and how you never shy away from controversy.

    I'd love to meet both Dean and Yannis!

  17. When ever people find out I run ultras the first question that they ask is if I have heard of Dean. Yes I have heard of Dean!!! He has become the unofficial spokesman of ultra running. There are so many of guys and gals in our sport I would rather talk about. One of the top female elite ultra runners in our sport summed it up the best when she told me "Dean, that guy is a nerd. I kick his ass everytime we run in the same race." I agree he is a nerd. But he is a great marketer.

  18. well, i don't know how many of those words came from yiannis himself. you all should've noticed it was posted by his "manager". his manager's words shouldn't make him an ahole no matter how bad they were, right? plus, if you've ever had to learn a foreign language and had to write something in that language, you know a lot of things get lost in translation. on top of that, we don't even know how they were provoked. i doubt the article you showed a link to is what got everything started because that article came out a long long time ago. it doesn't take 4 months for the greeks to get the memo.

    while i will reserve my opinion about dean, i just want to say, if you read his book a couple of times (too much shock value the first time around), you'll catch an overwhelming sense of him talking about "me, me, me". so i wouldn't go so far as to say that he's the unofficial spokesman for the sport of ultra running or the hero that's give the sport a renaissance because at least his style of story telling is using the sport of ultra running to market the brand called "Dean Karnazes". Ultra running is that convenient backdrop that get people interested to read his book.

    fortunately for us, the sport existed before dean jumped in and will continue long after he or anyone stops and the current craze dies down.

    at last, scott, while i think you are one of the most level headed bloggers I've come across, i do think this one kinda jumped the gun a bit.

  19. I don't think we can draw any real conclusions about Kouros other than the fact that his racing manager is not very diplomatic.

    Whatever the real story, I think it's probably not a coincidence that we've now seen two of the best ultrarunners of the present era (Kouros and Jurek) express their frustration with the Dean media machine.

    Obviously the Dean story really works for a lot of people, and he has done some good things with charities and so forth. But for one of these guys like Jurek or Kouros who is at the top of their sport (and who depends on sponsorship $$), it has to be frustrating to see a stuntman like Dean getting all the press.

  20. JeffO - Saw the Rucky Chucky notice, thanks. That's going to be a long 13 miles back! I will post something on it in the next couple of days.

    To the anonymous commenters - comments have a lot more weight if you sign your name, IMHO. And yes, I do jump the gun all the time on this stuff. But it's fun! ;-) You are correct that much could be lost in translation. Lord knows how this blog entry would come across if I tried to write it in Greek.


  21. Oh, yeah - one other thing to point out. The first Web site entry on Kouros' site from the Racing Manager does say "I represent Yiannis Kouros", so I am considering it the voice of both.


  22. Jumping the gun or not jumping the gun... who cares, the blog is great. Honest and sincere. Talks about ultra running in such a passion that makes me want to be part of the sport.
    Granted that I am not an ultra runner yet, I am just doing my first marathon in 2 weeks, so I haven't followed the sport for a long time like most of you.
    But it is guys like Dean and his crazy stunts that make you smile and feel inspired.
    But I must admit that it is actually you and your blog, Scott, that has inspired me to go for my first ultra this summer. Not Dean, although great. And definetly not Kouros or Jurek

  23. From that same blog entry on YK's website: "In reality, his performances are not better than middle class ladies performances." I keep getting the sense from this and other quotes that comparing Dean (or men) to women is somehow demeaning. Didn't Pam Reed win Badwater by five hours (!) one year? Don't women continue to place very high in ultra events? Comments like that bother me. (and I'm not a even a lady)

    When I read between the lines of Dean-bashing by elite ultrarunners, I keep sensing frustration (jealousy?) with Dean's ability to turn his passion and (limited) success in the sport into a lucrative job. Wouldn't the "Running God" (took that quote right from YK's website) like the same?

    Dean has never claimed to be the best or most successful ultrarunner. He has, however, turned his passion into a livelihood. I respect him for that.

    (One las note to all the anonymous posters who disagree with Scott or other commenters on this blog: make sure to at least sign your name. Scott and others put themselves out here and open themselves up for criticism/discussion/different opinions. It would be nice if you did the same. Not everyone is always going to agree (because that would be boring) and I promise that we won't come and hunt you down...even though we could run to where you live ;))

  24. Hi,

    I'm finnish ultrarunner. So my viewpoint is different.
    I know lot about Yiannis Kouros eventhough I have never met him. His by far the most remarkable runner of our time. I have seen some long films about him and some of my friends know him well.

    ".. life goals of "completion of the physical, intellectual and spiritual" and "trancendance" and "utilizing his mental and spiritual power." are not just great words but very serious things to Kouros. He has really advanced far with all those areas. I looking forward to meet him some day.

    Before this blog I thought that mr Karnazes was celebrity who have started to run long distances. Once i started to read his book in a bookshop but could not read it very far. It was strange. "me", "me", "me" - as someone said. Not very much about running. But for american readers this is obviously not a problem.
    And his marketing and promotional skills are very good. So he is a remarkable marketing man of himself and maybe also ultrarunning in United states.

    I do not see much point talking about his managers comments. Unless Yiannis and Dean would like to run together (and eat pizzas [if you have to in america].

    I think that ultra running is bit different in america and in Europe. Guess, everything is.

    We see that it is about friendship, patience, contemplation,.. there is strong spiritual aspect there. Money and commerciality are something which we like to keep out of it.

    Obviously in america it is bit more commercial thing where publicity is important also.

    To me, Kouros is the most european ultrarunner, Karnazes is the most american. There are opposite ends.

    Let´s accept, tolerate and like all ultrarunners. Eventhough we are little different by our attitude to our passion.

    p.s. if you would know little bit more about Kouros eventhough his not american...

  25. Apologies for the anonymous comments. Unfortunately, though, some of us have learned that it is not worth braving the backlash if one wishes to state a negative opinion about Dean. Look at the beating that Scott Jurek took for making some fairly gentle remarks about Dean. It seems that if one doesn't appreciate the Dean phenomena it is grounds to be labeled a jealous elitist snob.

    Dean is a hero to many, and I accept that. However, I would not pick Dean as the face of my sport. I believe in the transformational powers of running ultras (or doing anything crazy and hard). I do not believe in stunts like running on a treadmill suspended in Times Square or coming up with contrived "records" to promote oneself. Sorry, but that's how I see it.

    Luckily, there is plenty of room in the world and on the trails for those who love Dean and for those of us who wish he would quietly fade away.

  26. It is unfortunate that those in the ultrarunning community don't realize that ultrarunning is ultrarunning. By that utmost of confusing statements, I mean that for the most part, the world pays attention to running once every four years and that is at the Olympics.

    and that's when they watch the sprinters.

    So why those who are the most elite and the most successful and the most reknown don't seize on an opportunity when one of them shines to also try and shine seems a little lost on me. Running is not the "sexy" sport it once was in the first part of this century, carpe viam! (FYI, I inwardly laugh when I hear some older gentlemen bristle at the marketing aspect of running now or the prize money or how it is too commercial; in the 30s and 40s running was THE thing. The NFL was a joke even in its infancy; hockey has 6 teams; the NBA didn't exist. It seems those bemoan the present state of running forget that it is not all that far, in relative terms, from its beginnings. But I digress).

    I disagree that "if one doesn't appreciate the Dean phenomena it is grounds to be labeled a jealous elitist snob" but see the point. I personally feel those comments made my some of the elites asked about Dean are 1/3 jealousy, 1/3 rightful feelings of "Um, but I am faster. What the heck?" and 1/3 framing by journalists.

    As for his autobiography being about "me, me, me" isn't that what a story about oneself is?

  27. running, nor ultra running isn't owned by anyone, brah. whatever these dudes are saying, is whatever.
    i'm surprised such champions can be unsatisfied with their crazy remarkable achievements that they have anything to complain about. sheot brah, they have legs, eh? be happy.

  28. First timer here.

    Frankly, I think smack talk has no place in this sport. I can only speak for myself, but I respond better to seeing people talk about the love of the sport (case in point: Dean) than taking time out to rip on their peers.

    If this was boxing, MMA or hell - even tennis, that may add to the intrigue leading up to a match. But skinny guys in short shorts running for miles on end? Not so much.

    Look, I finally got to meet Dean recently. I'll admit as high regard as I held him initially, I was a bit wary and apprehensive about approaching him for fear that he would shatter my expectations based on all the mud-slinging I've heard in the endurance running community. But let me just say that he actually exceeded the high regard I held him in and just came off genuine, earnest and sincere in his efforts. Call him a publicity whore or any other name some testy folks have resorted to.

    But he's the one that got me to quit my cigarette habit of 12 years by crystalizing the draw of endurance running. And he's done this for THOUSANDS of people. That's pretty powerful stuff.

    With that said, he was merely the 'gateway drug'.

    Because of Dean, I discovered and gained interest in the "champions of the sport", to quote Scott J. Elites (past & present) like Deena Kastor, Meb, Ryan Hall, Pre, Scott Jurek, David Goggins, Pam Reed, Scott Jurek, et al. And yes - even Yiannis.

    In short, let's put things into perspective and remind ourselves every once and awhile exactly why we do what we do.

    I truly believe that Dean when he said that he's not trying to consume the pie - rather, he's trying to EXPAND the pie so that others can make a living of doing something they love. And it starts by shining a light to running.

    I'm sure there are many out there that shares my story, or some variation of it.

    Keep up the good work Scott.

  29. I fully agree with Evan. "Do you know Dean?" gets sort of old after a while. Yes, Dean never claims that he's the best ultrarunner. But in general the best in any given sport get the most media attention. And because Dean gets the most media attention many non-ultrarunners think he's the best. As far as I know I only ran once in the same race as Dean, the 2006 American River 50 miler, and I beat him by 1:53 hours.

    Based on all the comments made by several people on this blog Dean has done more for the sport of ultrarunning than I thought - introducing many runners to the sport and turning them into an ultrarunner. I'm glad to hear that.

    I agree that some of the best ultrarunners are somewhat jealous of the media attention (and money that comes with it) that Dean recieves. And it's frustrating to see Dean win an award as the "best outdoor athlete" when he at best should win an award as "best known outdoor athlete". Obviously, that's not Dean's fault (unless he rigged the vote :) ). To me, this just shows the complete lack of understanding of the sport of ultrarunning by the ESPY voting panel. Or worse, that the voting is determined by the marketability of the award winner, not their athletic ability.
    Dean makes a lot of money marketing himself, e.g. at the Whidbey Island (Wa) Marathon "hosted by Dean K" or the Northface Endurance Challenge "hosted by Dean K". But by the time I finished the 50 miler in Seattle last fall Dean had already left. It seems strange to me that the "host" of the event would leave before the first runner of the 50 miler crosses the line. But who knows, there may have been a good reason I just don't know about....

  30. Uli. You are the man. I am sure if you were the one in Deans shoes Mr. Kouros would keep quiet. I dont think he would want to race you in a 50. When you beat him in American river 06 you know the women I quoted. She was sick as a dog and still beat him in that race. But he probably ran 500 miles to the race, ate 6 burritos and a cheeseburger as the gun went off.

    Its late I am just joking around


  32. Scott-

    We keep stumbling over the same themes month in and month out. Those defending Dean's honor, and those bent on exposing "America's Greatest Runner."

    I have run ultras against the greatest competitors, including Kouros. I found him to be an amazing athlete, beating me at age 50 in a 50 miler. More importantly, I found him genuine and sincere. He found the time to congratulate ME after both Sunmart finishes wishing me well in his best American accent.

    The last time I spoke with Dean, he was making a snide remark about me sitting in a chair at Michigan Bluff, " If i sit down I'll end up looking like this guy!" There was no encouragement or pleading for me to get my ass moving to Foresthill. That's what countless other "elitist" runners did that day.

    We are all very impressionable, I am just glad that it was my father that exposed me to ultrarunning, a true hero who was able to teach me about life and ultrarunning.

    Thanks for the blog, I think we can all learn from your viewers perspectives.

    Hal Koerner

  33. This comment has been removed by the author.

  34. Briefly:

    I appreciate your honest opinion, Scott. Don't ever start watering down your entries to make people happy.

    I've met Dean, talked with Dean, raced with Dean. I found him to be 'politician' nice and approachable. However, he's not that interesting to listen to or read, as the depth and emotion just aren't there (at least publicly).

    Yannis, and his manager (wouldn't it be cool to have a 'manager'?) are entitled to their opinions, of course. I personally like the buzz it creates. I think I'd wet my pants if they announced a race with Dean, Yiannis, and Uli competing head to head to head.

    As for 'real ultrarunners', this is bound to occur as the sport grows. Just like there are real race car drivers and then the rest of the drivers. We can all drive 200 miles, but Winston won't be slapping a logo on my Ford Ranger any time soon. As our great sport grows, there are names that become commonly recognized. "Real" might just be misused for "of the best".

  35. I've never been a big Dean "fan" but I think Mr. Kouros has sort of gone of the deep end. The world is big enough for Dean and Yannis to exist at the same time. Just different "types" of runners if you will. I'm sure Dean would stop to render aid to an injured runner on the trail, wonder if Yannis would, since it would interrupt his great running...oh, but wait, if he can give 6 hours head start to "fittest man" I guess a couple of minutes aiding an injured runner would be nothing.

  36. BTW, his website looks like a Saturday Night Live skit. I need to pick me up one of them albums he has.
    Have a listen to one of the tracks here

    Rest soundly tonight, Dave Matthews.

  37. Reading this on the UltraLIST and then just gotta laugh. Maybe it's a Greek male rivalry thing? Just kidding.

    Dean is doing one thing that I can only hope Yiannis is doing in Europe. There are more folks being inspired to stop being couch potatoes and getting active. Sure, it doesn't answer the "who's better" question, but when were all buried and our remains eventually become the same dust that we run along the trails...would you rather be remembered for what you accomplished for yourself or what you accomplished for others?

  38. Couldn't find the YK blog from the link, just the general website.
    I think if you didn't bring it up, I would have never guessed/known he has problems with Americans (am I one of you?) or female (definitely one of those). He snapped. Whatever. It never mattered to me who is "named" the best as long as I know who "means" the best for me. YK is an awesome runner. DK has his own good qualities. SJ is humble and funny. KM is down to earth and cool. KS and AK are lightening fast and young. Uli is fierceful. Ann Trason is one of a kind never to be shadowed for what she did 9and continues to do). You raise questions and bring many a-runners together on this blog. We all have a place in this world.

  39. Don't let yourself by pulled into the DK vs YK discussion. I don't think this is about who is best. Scott put this out there for one reason - YK is being overly arrogant and offensive. That's a shame for a top athlete in any sport.

    BTW, Scott you are going to break a record on most comments again! Anything with Dean, I swear. I love that your commenters are all top runners themselves - Koerner, Steidl, Olsen, Clarke - that's quite an audience you have!

  40. Penultimate! Here I thought I was being clever. But you're right, that's not the right word. ;-)


  41. More comments on this long thread...? After even more emails on this in the ultralist?

    Just to say that although it's great to hear everyone's opinion, it doesn't provide much insight on what Yiannis is really thinking.

    Any Aussie to check down there??

    BTW, I didn't read it in this thread but on the ulra list: if you want more arguing, you can add ultra running versus trail ultra running and mountain ultra running. Then you move to a ground where you cannot compare accomplishments because of the too many variables (terrain, weather, support, etc.).

    Phew, with that, let's get back to the trails to play with our limits, daemons and... egos! ;-)

    Farther Faster

    PS: can't wait to see more elite marathoners switching to ultra to put a new perspective on this debate!

  42. From the text of his blog, it sounds as if the press has been repeatedly asking Yannis about Dean. I can understand how annoying that must be. Sorta like asking the Norwegian skijumpers about Eddie-The-Eagle or John McEnroe about Bobby Riggs. Fine the first few times, but it gets old fast.
    Why the press gets sucked in by "circus tricks"- difficult stunts of no true consequence- is a puzzlement, but it has always been so.
    Yannis just seems to have reached his bull**** limit.

  43. Scott, I pulled my comment with the "penultimate" sub-comment. I didn't want to sound pedantic! lol. ;-)

    In response to Jean P., you'll likely never know what YK is thinking; he's one of a kind. I think he'd have a more substantial stance if he were to toe the line at WS 100, Hardrock, or go up against the likes of Krupicka at Leadville.

    One of the many reasons I love this sport (ultras, trails, mountains, etc.) is that the only measure of greatness is on the particular course and on a particular day. The PRs aren't "your 10k PR, or marathon PR, they are specific events, since they are all so different and exciting.

    This sport is filled with so many humble and amazing athletes, that the couple of ding-bats who rifle off idiotic digs at others, serve as jesters that we can all laugh at, talk about, and learn from.

    And, for the very uncommon praise for Dean, from my mouth, at least, I discovered this great sport because of him. So, I suppose I owe him some gratitude and at least a little respect.

  44. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  45. To the last commenter - you wanna talk smack about an individual, you're going to have to sign your name. Dems da rules.


  46. Good rule. They can start their own blog, "Pansy Phantom Provokers" or "Mamma's Skirt is My Veil"
    How's that for smack?

  47. I would say wont be fair to judge Kouros based on his blog content. I am sure something behind the screen has happened for such a challenge from his side.

    Nevertheless it is very unexpected response from Ultra-running Legend, there is not much to prove for him, What has triggered this response!!

    This will give even more fame to Dean :).

    I hope someone takes on his challenge will be fun to follow.

  48. After reading his blog, It definately sounds elitist. especially his tone asking how many have done a certain distance in 24hrs etc.

    cant believe he has written.

  49. Ouch. Anil, thanks for linking the page, I finally read it. Somebody/something really ticked off somebody else. While it's none of our business and doesn't change why we run and how we do it, curiousity is a bad habit. I wonder.

  50. Oh, looks like 49 people beat me to this. Scott, you're entitled to your opinion, and you may rant. Kouros and his manager are entitled to theirs, and I hold nothing against them for ranting. I don't have a problem with them being irritated by all the DK hype. I don't feel any need to rant against them. GB was probably kidding, but you never know with DK worshippers--can be very irrational. Kind of like people who think war criminal GWB is a hero for invading and destroying an entire country and destabilizing an entire region. (Hey, I'm ranting now!...) Will try to find time to read all the comments.

  51. I think everyone is tired of Dean putting his face on a sport, not to mention insoles that is not about hype or self promotion. Honestly I don't think either one of these protagonists understands the true nature of ultrarunning.

  52. Reply to the last comment.

    What is the true nature of Ultra running in your mind? I run ultras but maybe I run them for the wrong reasons. I need the true definition so I know if I am going about this all wrong and wasting my time. For me there is no higher spiritual meaning. But any deeper meaning that you have doent mean that Dean and Yannis dont qualify as ultra runners. They dont understand the true nature of ultra running. What the hell does that mean Mr. Webster?

  53. I have been lucky enough to have been mentored into ultrarunning by runners who understand and respect the sport for what it is. It is not about chest thumping publicity hounds saying "look at me!" Ann Trason and Scott Jurek are examples champions with humility. They are not trying to sell insoles or challenge mediocre publicity hounds on the internet, the only audience they cared about is their peers on the trail. In ultrarunning the last person to finish has just as much glory as the first and usually a better story. These two would be better suited for professional wrestling.

  54. ulIf that was really Yannis Kouros talking there, then all I can say is that he is one arragant person. I have a lot of respect for him and am hoping like hell that he can just say this freely. Anybody who is an ultrarunner will always be an ultrarunner. If Kouros is still running in 10 years time, I'll challenge him and whoop him.

  55. I met Dean whilst waiting in a que to get our respective race numbers in the Mont Blanc Ultra Trail last year. He was friendly, unassuming and rather humble. He certainly didn't go about letting every one know he was DK or that he was the best. No, he was what we would expect him to be. Humble but open, honest without over selling himself. Mark (Spain)

  56. I have nothing against Dean or anything he has done. I have no i dea of what has transpired between the media and Yannis.

    but ...

    Yannis vs Dean in a 24 hour of longer road event would not be entertaining. They are completely different ability levels.

    I give Dean credit for taking his very good abilities and promoting those abilites into a great income stream. There is nothing wrong with making money from what you love to do (I am jealous in fact)

    I would think Humility is a difficult thing for Yannis when he not only wins events but destroys the competition. The have Dean take on the Women thing was a little harsh - Although I would take the top women of the world over Dean any day. It is not a cut on Dean as Women Rock in these long ultra events -

  57. Come on folks--it's Yiannis' manager that seems to be hypersensitive---Yiannis--who I have followed since he first came on the ultra scene, once said that his belief was to, "hear many,say little" Yiannis--in my opinion---he is the greatest runner of all time--to those who would dispute this I would say--you can't deny that he's the greatest ultra runner of all-time--ALSO--this is important!!! Yiannis' command of the English language is at best--sub--average--maybe that's the way it is with his manager too---Let's address the REAL PROBLEM--why isn't the bio--book he wrote yrs. ago only available in Greek? He can't get an English language publisher.

  58. I am Greek and admire YK for his achievements and felt proud. The comments of his manager however disgusted me and were low. Do they really reprsent the opinion YK? It's hard to imagine YK would be so elitarian and conceited.
    I've read DK's book too. It's well written, an inspiring personal tale. Oddly enough he is of greek origin too. Nevertheless due to his upbringing in the US he has been able to make more publicity for himself, which I personally think is great, because it introduces/makes people aware of the sport and also raised charities.
    If YK has not had similar that's a different issue, but such comments towards DK are really inappropriate. Maybe DK is not "the best", but he certainly is an admirable athlete and individual. Maybe YK and his manager should blame the greek state for not offering him similar opportunities of marketing and translating his book into other languages.

    Yannis Pappou, MD

  59. Yiannis is one of the most underrated Ultra athletes in the world. That is, since he is the most accomplished and elite Ultra Runner with the most World Records that probably will not be broken for centuries, he should be recognized and just as popular or familiar to the masses as Lance Armstrong, Michael Phelps, and other at the top of their fields are.
    As far as Karnazes, Kouros is probably furious that some one comes along touting themselves as Dean has done, even though it inspires people, it deflects attention and credibility from from significance of competitive national Ultra events (by focusing on solo and unofficial races).

    I think that Karnazes (at least as a Greek American) should help Kouros attain the recognition he deserves by reminding and teaching the public world about who this Greek Running Legend (YK) really is.

    Of course that probably wont happen as Kouros has be very blunt in his description of Karnazes which might seem unsportsman like, but then again Kouros is trying to preserve the sport itself (although Karnazes is trying to expand it)from becoming diluted.

    Kouros remains the authority on Ultra Running and his feats are far more inspirational then Karnazes accomplishments (although most people dont know who Kouros is). Which is the paradox and problem we are faced with.

  60. I think YK manager's comments have been warped a bit in the english translation, and are not as harsh as they might appear in print. I dont see them as elitist, but rather calling out DK to really put it on the line. What's wrong with that ? Chalk me up to one of the people who is tired of seeing DK usurp all the publicity in ultrarunning from the true champions. As far as the legions of people who have started ultra because of DK, I prefer the days when races were easy to get into, and the people out there were self-motivated, not following the latest athletic fad from a book.

  61. I would not compare them at all , they are different with very different approach to running we can learn very much from both of them.
    Ultrarunning is not about world records they are just product of self-realiastion, it is about living in the state of running.
    In terms of performances numbers speak for them selves.


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