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Ultramarathon Man

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Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of a Midnight Runner (2005) by Dean Karnazes is the best of the cluster of books I have just finished.

In terms of sheer entertainment value, Ultramarathon Man is the best I’ve read in the past few years.

If you like Jon Kraukauer’s fare of adventure stories (e.g., Into Thin Air, Into the Wild, and Eiger Dreams), this book fits nicely within that niche. However, you don’t have to be a sports fan or even a runner to appreciate it.

This autobiography chronicles Mr. Karnazes’ amazing feats of endurance, and places it within the broader context of his interesting life, including a full-time job and family.

Just when you think he cannot possibly top his last feat, he will surprise you. He takes the reader into his world of ultramarathon running, including the Western States 100, Badwater (135 miles from Death Valley to 8,000 feet up Mr. Whitney in the summer), a marathon to the South Pole without snow shoes, and “The Relay”&#8212a 199 mile race where Mr. Karnazes ran each leg. He was “Team Dean.”

One vignette that gives you a flavor of his unique narrative is his ordering and consuming a large pizza and cheesecake while running through the night and balancing the food boxes.

Mr. Karnazes answers the “why” question that many readers may seek, but I enjoyed more his response to the “how” query.

Three words: get it now.

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About Richard J. Radcliffe

  • Ahhh! Now I understand the juxtaposition of Ultramarathon Man with the biography of Dr. Warren – they were together on your bookshelf. [grin]

    If I had run across the Badwater story as I browsed through this book, I might have bought it. My spouse and I ran “sag support” for years for ultramarathon bicycle events in Death Valley, including the August “Hot Ride,” in which a typical 9 PM temperature would be over 100 degrees.

    Thanks for letting me know!


    I don’t trust anyone who runs unless they are in fear of their lives.

  • Duane

    Running is a complete waste of time. You can’t even watch TV while you’re running. All you can do is run. Run, Forrest, run! This is something people get out of their system by the end of junior high school, the same way they get dodgeball, tag, and hide-and-seek out of their system. See Jane run. Run, Jane, run! Why would anyone want to read this stuff? It would cut into TV time. Besides that, running is not healthy. Try walking or swimming.

  • Dr. Pat,
    Thanks for the comment. Well, they were juxtaposed reviews on my blog, not on the bookshelf. I debated taking out the Ultramarathon brief reference in the other review, but since I was planning on putting both up here, I decided to leave it in.

  • Maybe a link in that review to this one?

  • I think such links are verboten on this site, but the other book review is a few entries below this one.

  • Au contraire, monsieur! I have updated your Life With Purpose post to link to this one here, so that the reference makes sense.

    Thanks for the reviews!

  • Thanks Phillip!