Dean Karnazes Podcast Image

Dean Karnazes: When You Get To Where You’re Going, Keep Going

About this episode:
In this week’s episode, we interview Ultramarathon Man, Dean Karnazes, and talk with him about setting big goals, inspiring yourself and staying motivated, and cover tips for runners looking to try out trail running and even make the leap to ultramarathons.

Guest Bio – Dean Karnazes:
TIME magazine named him one of the “Top 100 Most Influential People in the World.” Men’s Fitness hailed him as one of the fittest men on the planet. Stan Lee, of Marvel Comics fame, called him, “A real superhuman.” An acclaimed endurance athlete and NY Times bestselling author, Dean Karnazes has pushed his body and mind to inconceivable limits. Among his many accomplishments, he has run 50 marathons, in all 50 US states, in 50 consecutive days, he’s run 350 continuous miles, foregoing sleep for three nights. He’s run across the Sahara Desert in 120-degree temperatures, and he’s run a marathon to the South Pole in negative 40 degrees. On ten different occasions, he’s run a 200-mile relay race solo, racing alongside teams of twelve. His long list of competitive achievements include winning the World’s Toughest Footrace, the Badwater Ultramarathon, running 135 miles nonstop across Death Valley during the middle of summer. He has raced and competed on all seven continents of the planet, twice over.

Read More About Dean Karnazes And Connect With Him:

Episode Highlights:

  • 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days
  • Finding new goals
  • Inspiring yourself and staying motivated
  • Advice for runners getting into trail running
  • Tips for working with a coach

Listen to the episode on Apple PodcastsSpotifyStitcherGoogle Podcasts, or on your favorite podcast platform.

Thanks To This Week’s Sponsor:

This episode of the TrainRight Podcast is brought to you by Muir Energy.

Hello, this is Ian, founder and CEO of Muir Energy. Muir Energy makes completely clean real food energy gels and hydration for endurance athletes. I’m an ultra distance hiker, and developed MUIR to address my nutrition needs as a clean, simple, real food eater, with an aversion to fake ingredients. Born in the High Sierra and handmade in San Diego, Muir Energy products are audaciously simple, and our flavors are simply audacious. Gram for gram, MUIR Energy provides more flavor and nutrition (quality calories, healthy fats, and proteins, vitamins and minerals) than any other product in our space, while keeping athletes’ stomachs happy.To learn more, including where to buy our products, please visit our website: Use discount code ctspodcast15 (all lower case) for 15% off.” – Ian Muir McNally


Episode Transcript

Hillary Allen: Hey guys, welcome to the TrainRight Podcast presented by CTS, a podcast about furthering human performance in endurance sports. I’m your host Hillary Allen and today we have a really special guest. To kick off the TrainRight Podcast Trail Running edition we have Dean Karnazes. So, Time Magazine has named him one of the most top 100 most influential people in the world. Men’s Fitness held him as one of the fittest men on the planet. Stan Lee of Marvel comics fame called him a real superhuman. An acclaimed endurance athlete and New York Times bestselling author, Dean Karnazes has pushed his body and mind to inconceivable limits.

Hillary Allen: Among his many accomplishments, he has run 50 marathons in all 50 U.S. states in 50 consecutive days. He’s run 350 continuous miles, foregoing to sleep for three nights, and he’s run across the Sierra Desert in 120 degree temperatures, and he’s run a marathon to the South Pole in negative 40 degrees. On 10 different occasions, he’s run a 200 mile relay race solo, racing alongside teams of 12. His long list of competitive achievements include winning the world’s toughest foot race, the Badwater Ultramarathon, running 135 miles nonstop across the Death Valley during the middle of summer. He’s raced and competed on all seven continents of the planet twice over.

Hillary Allen: Dean is an ESPN ESPY winner, a three time recipient of the Competitor Magazine’s Endurance Athlete of the Year Award, and serves as a U.S. Athlete Ambassador. He’s twice carried the Olympic torch, and in 2018 received the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutritional Lifetime Achievement Award. We’re really lucky to have Dean as a guest on the CTS TrainRight Podcast. So, let’s dive into it. Welcome to the TrainRight Podcast, I’m your host, Hillary Allen, and we have a special guest today, my good friend, Dean Karnazes. Hey, Dean.

Dean Karnazes: Hey, Hillary. I thought for a second you were going to say, this is my train wreck new podcast.

Hillary Allen: Well, I don’t know, we’ll-

Dean Karnazes: This line is kind of jumbled. You’re in France, right?

Hillary Allen: Yeah, I know, right?

Dean Karnazes: Yeah.

Hillary Allen: No, but welcome, this is actually … You’re going to be the first guest on this podcast, so I’m really happy to kick things off with you.

Dean Karnazes: You were literal, when you said that you were actually literally meant it.

Hillary Allen: Yeah. Yeah, exactly.

Dean Karnazes: All right, yeah.

Hillary Allen: Kick things off with a bang. So, I mean, I already introduced you, you’re extremely accomplished athlete, but I want to ask you some more personal questions about running. First of all, you have an interesting connection with CTS, do you want to explain that a little bit to me?

Dean Karnazes: Yeah so, I used to run when I was in high school, that was like my last actual competitive running, it was a freshman in high school on the cross-country team. Yeah, so after that I kind of just literally stumbled into ultrarunning, and found the sport fascinating. I ran a race called the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run, which you know well-

Hillary Allen: Yeah.

Dean Karnazes: … in 1994, and that was kind of my first exposure to the craziness, the madness of ultramarathoning, and I just kind of figured it out on my own. I talked to people, I experimented, and just did what I did, but nowadays a lot of people come up through the collegiate ranks, and they’re well-coached, and I wasn’t that at all, I was just self-coached, and then in 2005 I decided I would try to run 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days, and I thought, “You might need a coach for this one.”

Hillary Allen: Oh, my gosh.

Dean Karnazes: Yeah, where do you get a coach? Yeah.

Hillary Allen: But before we get into that, how in the world … I mean, I stumbled into ultrarunning just by accident, I felt, but I stumbled into 50Ks, not like 100 mile race like Western States, which is notoriously hard, and then your 50 marathon in 50 states in 50 days, how in the world did you just fall in love with something so quickly?

Dean Karnazes: Well, I been doing this for 25 years, but like many, when you experience ultramarathoning you either say, “I’m never going to do this again.”, or you get into it. I mean, I say there’s magic in misery, and there’s just some magic about getting out there and doing something really difficult and really uncertain for long periods of time. Many people would look at this and go, “Don’t you get bored when you run?”, and they just don’t get it, right?

Hillary Allen: No, yeah.

Dean Karnazes: Yeah, so I was drawn to ultramarathoning, and I just, like you, I never stopped exploring, so I kept seeking out … I did the Western States 100, and I thought, “What’s tougher than that?” I heard about this race called the Badwater Ultramarathon, so I went and did that, and then I just kept saying, “Where can you take this?”, and ended up at 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days looking for a coach.

Hillary Allen: Oh, my gosh, and so that’s how you stumbled across CTS, because I mean, self-coaching, I think, works really well, but I mean, I don’t think it’s everyone’s cup of tea, but sometimes if you have a really hard goal like this it could help to have a coach.

Dean Karnazes: Well, I thought about who would be the best coach for something like this, because what sort of running event is back to back like this sort of endeavor, and I thought, “Not many.”, but a good model was the Tour de France. So, I look at Tour de France … it’s 21 days, so it’s a bit shorter, but I thought these are people performing at their best for 21 days, and there’s travel involved, and I knew that Chris was the guy for most of the American cyclists, so that’s how we formed a relationship. He said, “Well, this is running. I know this great running coach, and I’m thinking about bringing him on board, his name is Jason Koop.”, and I thought, “Okay, who is this kid, Koop?”

Hillary Allen: Oh, my God.

Dean Karnazes: I’m like, “What is he going to teach me?”, and I learned so much from Jason that I thought, “Why didn’t I have a coach earlier? I probably would’ve done a lot better in my performances.”

Hillary Allen: So, I mean, was it always about … I mean, the 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days, I mean, was that more about you just wanted to complete it? I mean, it was a record in itself, but were you looking at individual performance goals along the way, or just kind of this longterm goal of completing it?

Dean Karnazes: Yeah so, the genesis of how this happened is I work with this great outdoor company called The North Face, I think you might know them, Hillary.

Hillary Allen: Oh yeah, maybe, I might know them.

Dean Karnazes: As you know, they have a yearly expedition proposal process.

Hillary Allen: Yeah.

Dean Karnazes: So, I was the first performance athlete with The North Face back in 1999, and I’d look at these proposals for these expeditions all of them were like, I’m going to climb The North Face of [Nooksie 00:08:01], or I’m going to do something crazy on K2, and I’m going to climb Everest for the 10th time. I thought, “Does expedition always have to be on a mountain? Maybe The North Face can kind of stretch their thinking, and go off the mountain.” So, I submitted this proposal for 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days as a North Face expedition, and the VP of marketing at that time was so into it. So, that’s how the whole thing got launched. Just to explain how it happened, a lot of the runs were recreated marathons. You don’t show up in Iowa on Tuesday and find an organized marathon, right?

Hillary Allen: No, really?

Dean Karnazes: No, yeah. So, the agency who was coordinating all this contacted the race directors for the most prominent marathons in those states, in 42 states and said, “We’re in Iowa on Tuesday, will you set up your official starting line, let us follow your sanctioned and certified course, and then finish at your official finish line.”, so we had a record of actually doing the marathon. I say we, the one thing The North Face wanted to do is open it up to other runners. So, it was amazing, we had permits for up to 50 marathoners to join me at these recreated marathons. They were all sold out … some had waiting lists of like 150 people to get in. It was so much fun running a marathon in Dallas, Texas on some random Thursday with 50 other people.

Dean Karnazes: Unlike the regular Dallas Marathon where they hold the whole course closed, like 26 miles for seven hours, or whatever the cutoff is, we had to stay together as a pod, because we had these roaming police escorts that would close intersections as we were going through, so they’d just close the course for us as we were roaming along, and so inevitably the pace was a little bit slower, because we couldn’t really drop people, because the police were like, “You got to all stick together, that’s part of the deal with pulling this off.”, because we were going up onto freeways. Some of the marathon courses go on freeways, so they’re like, “You cannot spread out too far.” So, I think the average marathon time was like 3:40, or something, which is still pretty respectable, but I think if I had done it on my own I probably would’ve gone a little bit faster than some of them, yeah.

Hillary Allen: Well, I mean, this is like the genesis of ultrarunning, and thinking of ultrarunning as kind of this creative expression of exploration. I mean, there’s also this movement in ultrarunning fastest known times, and it can be done not only on a road, like something that you’re doing covering these extreme distances, it can be on mountains, it can be crazy traverse, like some of our teammates, Mike Foote and Mike Wolfe, they did the Crown Traverse from across the Rocky Mountains, kind of think of these extreme routes to do, and I think it all comes from this idea. I mean, I think, you were one of the first people to come up with this, and show to The North Face themselves, and the world, that running can actually be this explorative, extreme thing. Yeah, there’s just-

Dean Karnazes: Oh, Hillary, you … I mean, the early days of The North Face, I’m like, “Guys, people want to go light and fast, they don’t want to wear big vibrant sole boots, and have these packs on with frames. We want to kind of move freely, and run, and shuffle.”

Hillary Allen: Yeah.

Dean Karnazes: They didn’t get it. I’m like, “Trail running is the future.” They’re like, “Trail running, what’s that?”

Hillary Allen: [crosstalk 00:11:32]-

Dean Karnazes: I mean it was like, I was like twisting their arms, “Please, get into this category. Performance is going to be great, and everyone’s going to go to the trails and The North Face belongs here.”, and they just didn’t see the vision. They’re like, “No, no, it’s going to be a niche, small sport.”

Hillary Allen: Oh, my gosh, now look-

Dean Karnazes: And you’re seeing what’s happened, yeah, no.

Hillary Allen: Yeah, I know, because we just had the … there’s The North Face 50 in Marin, and there’s how many people that come out to that?

Dean Karnazes: In total there’s about 5,000 runners, and it’s two days of running, and what a lot of the elites don’t realize, I mean, they’re there on Saturday for the championship 50 mile race, if you come on Sunday, the next day, where there’s a half marathon, a 5K, and a 10K, there’s like twice as many people, but still-

Hillary Allen: Yeah.

Dean Karnazes: … Yeah, I mean, we had 800 runners at the 50 mile, which … I’m sorry, 600 runners at the 50 mile, which is the cutoff, we had 1300 runners at the half marathon.

Hillary Allen: Oh, my gosh.

Dean Karnazes: And a lot of them were first time trail runners, that was the first experience with a trail. So, it’s such a good feater I think, the Endurance Challenge, just the format, because it brings in new people to the sport, as well as we recognize and celebrate the elites.

Hillary Allen: Yeah. I mean, it’s one of my favorite events. I wasn’t out there this year, but I mean, when I was super injured I came out and did the 10K, I actually walked it with my good friend Rob [crosstalk 00:12:53]-

Dean Karnazes: I remember that. I remember that, yeah.

Hillary Allen: Yeah, it’s just, it creates-

Dean Karnazes: I remember.

Hillary Allen: … It’s so accessible, and a big city like San Francisco, you can get people who’ve never run trail before out on the trails.

Dean Karnazes: Yeah.

Hillary Allen: But, I mean-

Dean Karnazes: Well, and the other thing, I mean, you probably don’t know this, but I’ve run over 300 road marathons, so just regular marathons.

Hillary Allen: Oh, my gosh.

Dean Karnazes: Yeah, I mean, I’ve done the New York City Marathon, I think, 15 times, Boston a dozen times. Yeah so, I mean, I’ve done a lot of just regular … I mean, I’m not fast, I’m running, at my peak, just sub three hours, barely sub three hours, and now 3:15 to 3:30, sometimes slower. But the road to-

Hillary Allen: That’s pretty respectful.

Dean Karnazes: But earlier I’d see no trail runners, no ultramarathoners at these events, never, and now I call it the road to trail conversion. So many people are getting off the road and converting into trail running, and I go to the New York City Marathon, I mean, half the people I know there are like trail runners or ultramarathoners.

Hillary Allen: Yeah. So, how do you actually do that, because I think a lot of people are scared to make the leap, and so obviously I think you inspire a lot of people, you can lead by example, and actually I don’t think you know about this, but I actually ran two road marathons.

Dean Karnazes: Two.

Hillary Allen: And then I was like, “Screw this, I want to run on the trail.”, but yeah, no I [crosstalk 00:14:22]-

Dean Karnazes: You probably ran in your trail shoes, knowing you.

Hillary Allen: No, I know, I actually did start road running, I did the self-supported road marathon, because I wanted to break three hours, and then once I did that I was like, “All right, see you.” But how do you make that transition? I mean, obviously running is running, I love it in both forms, but trail running is my favorite, but I kind of just got into that naturally. How do you make the leap from road to trail?

Dean Karnazes: I think that it starts just with finding a trail. I mean, we’ve done so much trail running, and we’ve been exposed to trails around the world, but for a lot of people like in the Midwest a trail is a graded fire road. So, it’s just a non-paved surface, and finding these places to go running, they’re all over the country, but sometimes it’s not so obvious where a trail might be. So, finding a trail, and then experiencing it. I always say, do your run on the trail either at sunrise or sunset, and even bring a headlamp, and so you’re going into the night, and it’s such a religious experience for people first experiencing a trail that it only takes one exposure and you’re hooked, literally.

Hillary Allen: Yeah, no, I completely agree, especially I think running at sunrise is a conversation with Mother Nature, just starting your day, it’s wonderful. Actually, I think … I mean, growing up in Colorado I think my version of a trail, I can be quite spoiled, I mean, in California too, the trails are gorgeous. You can have some sort of elevation gain, and some sort of mountain accessible to you. But what I realized from just traveling around, and even in cities, I’m not very much of a city person, but you can actually always find a park or a place to run that, like you said, is a non-paved road. I mean, to me, that’s magical. You can just kind of create a little bit of space, and … Yeah, I think if people are a little bit more open to their definition of a trail they can experience trail running even in an urban setting.

Dean Karnazes: No, Central Park, I mean, is a great example. I mean, I’ve been on 10 mile trail runs in Central Park, so yeah.

Hillary Allen: How many loops did you do?

Dean Karnazes: It was a few loops, yeah, a lot of zigzagging, but-

Hillary Allen: Yeah, totally.

Dean Karnazes: … to your point, we were in the trees a lot of times, so it was kind of cool. I mean, you could still hear taxis and shit in the background-

Hillary Allen: Yeah, yeah, but that … I don’t know-

Dean Karnazes: … buses whizzing by.

Hillary Allen: … that’s kind of cool. I mean, here in Europe I can still hear the weird ambulance noises somewhat. Yeah, listen carefully you might hear them. But okay, another question I had for you, I mean, you’ve been in the sport, like you said, 25 years?

Dean Karnazes: Two and a half decades, yep.

Hillary Allen: I mean, that’s so impressive, it’s one of my goals for running, just because I love movement, and I think … I mean, trail running, to me, it doesn’t have to be fast, it doesn’t have to be a certain time or pace, it’s just movement, but how do you keep inspiring yourself, inspiring others, or just coming up with new things to do, new projects, and how do you keep going?

Dean Karnazes: I just think, to me, what would be the coolest thing to do? I just think of what would be so cool to do this, and running 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days I just thought seeing all of the U.S. … I took my family, so my kids got to see … how many people have actually been to all 50 states? They were-

Hillary Allen: I haven’t.

Dean Karnazes: Yeah, I mean, before they were 10 years old they were in all 50 states, so we got to experience the food, the travel. I love travel, so I thought, with that model in mind, what’d even be bigger, broader, bolder, cooler? And now I want to run a marathon in every country of the world in one year. So, I pitched it to The North Face, a global expedition to run … there are 205, or 203 actually now, U.N. recognized countries, so to run a marathon in each and every one of them in a one year expedition.

Hillary Allen: Oh, my gosh, and I can’t even imagine, I mean, I think you’ve mentioned this to me before, but the logistics for travel, and how you can actually attack this, like which direction do you go, man, that’s a crazy conundrum to even organize, let alone to do that. How long does it take to plan something like this?

Dean Karnazes: Well, I mean, I got to be honest, I didn’t do all the organization. The same company, Hawkeye Sports and Entertainment-

Hillary Allen: Yep.

Dean Karnazes: … it’s now Hawkeye Publicis, or Publicis Experience, they’re the event managers for the Endurance Challenge series. So, I’ve worked with them for the past 15 years, and they’re event specialists, and logistic specialists. So, they’ve put together a plan, and I mean, the plan is there, they have like, “Here it is, the plan’s done.” We have boat segments-

Hillary Allen: Oh, man.

Dean Karnazes: … we have flight segments, there’s bus segments, there are rickshaw segments, but the planning is all done. Yeah, the whole thing is mapped out.

Hillary Allen: Oh, that is so cool. Do you need a [inaudible 00:19:37]

Dean Karnazes: I need you to come run a couple countries with me.

Hillary Allen: I can come up and help. Oh, my gosh, that’d be amazing, yeah, because then you could have … do you still have the same thing, like police escort to help you have people come out from the community, too, to run with you?

Dean Karnazes: Yes, I want to bring communicate members out, I want to bring out all of The North Face Global Athlete Team as I’m passing through that region, maybe run five, six, seven marathons back to back.

Hillary Allen: Oh, man, that sounds like such a cool project. I mean, yeah, I would … just let me know, I’ll come follow you around. It would be-

Dean Karnazes: Well, let me ask you this, here’s a quiz, of the 203 U.N. recognized countries, how many do you think actually have an organized marathon? So, there’s 203 total countries, how many have a marathon?

Hillary Allen: I would say 45% of them.

Dean Karnazes: You’re such a geek, 45%. When I signed up for this I was told there’d be no math, so what does that equate to?

Hillary Allen: Okay, so less than half is what I was going for, so half of-

Dean Karnazes: You’re pretty close, it’s 109.

Hillary Allen: Dang.

Dean Karnazes: 109 countries have actual organized marathons, and then the rest I’ve been working with Google just to do a map, probably I’ll work with Strava to actually do a better job of actually tracking on it, but actually first coming up with a map of a course, and then inviting people to come run it. Most of them are going to be on the trail.

Hillary Allen: That’s amazing. Do you think that that would help actually sanction a marathon in the places that don’t have them?

Dean Karnazes: A lot of people have asked me about that, like the country … I was a U.S. Athlete Ambassador, so I’ve been on two Sports Diplomacy Envoys, one to Central Asia, and the other to South America, and the Office of Soft Diplomacy, or Sports Diplomacy has asked a couple of the embassies, because they’re going to be the logistics experts on the street, the activation partners to all the embassies, and they’ve said there’s been a lot of interest in potentially starting a marathon in that country.

Hillary Allen: That’s amazing-

Dean Karnazes: I think that’d be really great, yeah.

Hillary Allen: I think that’s so cool, especially just because I think … I mean, this is a cool project, and a cool feat to do in and of itself. However, just the community that running can generate, I mean, it’s something that is just beyond words. It’s something that you can just experience, and a fellow runner, you can just … you have this kind of unspoken bond with someone that runs, and I think that that’s such a good thing for any community to have. So, oh man, I hope, I mean-

Dean Karnazes: Yeah, no, you’ve experienced as well as I … We’re very blessed to have experienced it the way we have, but I tell people, “You can go to another run specialty store in Sidney, Australia and go running with people, and they’re just the same as you. They’re just as fired up, they’re just as positive, they’re just as supportive.” So, running’s very universal, yeah.

Hillary Allen: Yeah. Okay, so this is your next project, when do you assume to start it?

Dean Karnazes: Five years ago. Yeah, so it was first green lighted with The North Face five years ago, and then we had a couple hiccups, and then Todd Spaletto who is the president who had to approve it, I think you remember Todd.

Hillary Allen: Yep, I do.

Dean Karnazes: He actually moved on, so I’ve been kind of restarting it for the past five years.

Hillary Allen: Yeah. Well, I mean, that’s something, if you ever need a letter of support. But so, I mean, after all of these projects and ideas, do you ever a letdown from after achieving some big goal that you’ve had?

Dean Karnazes: In so many ways, this sounds funny, but to me, crossing the finish line is almost a letdown, and what I realized is it’s not getting to your destination, it’s the journey. So, I have this quote, “When you get to where you’re going, keep going.”

Hillary Allen: Yeah.

Dean Karnazes: So, it’s the pursuit where the magic is, and I think that … I was just in Australia for the Blackall 100.

Hillary Allen: Yeah.

Dean Karnazes: Which was a grunt, by the way, it was so hot and humid, it rained, and oh, it was apocalyptic, but when I got to the finish line there’s a bell. You ring this big Blackall bell, huge cowbell, I was so fired up, and then when I rang that bell just like melancholy hit me, it’s like, “Ah, well that was a great experience.” Now you go back to the hotel, you shower, you got to the airport, and then you’re out of there.

Hillary Allen: Yeah, I know, I’ve experienced that so many times, too, and I think it is, it’s like the beauty of just enjoying the process of training for a big goal, and then maybe once you’re done with achieving that goal it’s like the whole process of coming up with new goals, something that excites you I think … I mean, maybe we just answered the question is like, that’s the reason how you can find a way to keep going?

Dean Karnazes: Well, I mean, that race was something else, but the race experience to me is very different than … I once with a team of Australia, I once did a six day run from, it was called the Summit to Sydney, so the summit of Mount Kosciuszko, which is the highest point in Australia. I ran from the summit to Sydney, and it was 260 miles in six days.

Hillary Allen: Oh, my gosh.

Dean Karnazes: Yeah, I was doing basically 60K … or, 60 miles, 100K, every day, but it was like this group of raggly guys that weren’t trail runners that became runners in this RV they were supporting me, it was just a bunch of us guys out there in the Outback just of Australia-

Hillary Allen: Wow, that’s awesome.

Dean Karnazes: … and that was fun. Going to a race, let’s be honest, it’s kind of fun, but it’s kind of work. I mean, for you especially, I mean, you kind of … okay, you got your game face on, I mean, you know you’re … even if you go out to dinner, you have some fun, you’re going into a race. In the back of your mind it’s like, “Okay, I got to do this, I got to do this, I got to do this.”, and then racing … I don’t know if you consider it fun, I mean, even for someone like my level now that’s definitely not at the front of the pack, you’re still kind of racing, you know?

Hillary Allen: Yeah.

Dean Karnazes: It’s a different experience than just running freeform with a bunch of guys in an RV. So, I encourage people to do a little of both to keep it fresh.

Hillary Allen: Yeah. No, I like that, too, because I mean, as serious as certain races can be, I mean, I only have maybe one or two goal races a year, and then the rest of them I kind of use as a training run just to-

Dean Karnazes: Your training runs would crush most people.

Hillary Allen: Yeah, maybe, but it’s a way for me to try to keep it calm a little bit so that I think the mental pressure doesn’t add up so much, but you’re right, there’s a balance between the fun, and then the seriousness of it, but at the end of the day you’re out there just pushing yourself to be the best that you can be. So, I mean, I think that’s a good balance. But I did have one question for you. I mean, you have … and this is probably going to be very difficult, so maybe you can just choose one of your favorite experiences. You’ve been like all over the world, have had all of these crazy, gnarly races, can you tell me one of your favorite experiences?

Dean Karnazes: Oh, man. Well, I’ve raced and competed on all seven continents of earth twice now-

Hillary Allen: Oh, my gosh.

Dean Karnazes: … so running a marathon to the South Pole was … the South Pole is so different than anywhere else I’ve been, and anywhere you can be.

Hillary Allen: And that’s minus 40 degrees fahrenheit?

Dean Karnazes: Yeah, it was minus 42 fahrenheit, yeah, 25 degrees Celsius.

Hillary Allen: Oh, my God.

Dean Karnazes: Yeah. So, I mean, you can’t even breathe in the super chilled air, because it’ll freeze your … Well, you know, you’re from Colorado. You got to wear a muffler.

Hillary Allen: I’m not bringing [crosstalk 00:27:38]-

Dean Karnazes: It gets cold in Colorado. Maybe not minus 42, but-

Hillary Allen: Yeah, no problem. No.

Dean Karnazes: Yeah, so I mean, that was an experience. Running across-

Hillary Allen: Did you run with a mask?

Dean Karnazes: Yeah, yeah, I ran with a balaclava the whole time.

Hillary Allen: Oh, wow.

Dean Karnazes: It froze on my face because of my respiration, so they actually had to cut it off the back of my head. The whole thing was frozen, my goggles, my balaclava-

Hillary Allen: Oh, my gosh.

Dean Karnazes: .. yeah, my muffler, it was all frozen, and they cut it off the back of my head.

Hillary Allen: Oh, my God.

Dean Karnazes: Yeah.

Hillary Allen: Oh, wow-

Dean Karnazes: Wow, I’ve done … I mean, I can go on about Atacama Desert, I talked a bit about Australia and some of the expeditions and fun things I’ve done there, but like life, the most memorable things are not always getting an award, or being on the podium, they’re the little moments you share with people you love. My favorite experience ever is running a 10 kilometer race, a 10K, with my daughter, Alexandria, on her 10th birthday.

Hillary Allen: Aww.

Dean Karnazes: I mean, that’s the best run ever, nothing can top that, yeah.

Hillary Allen: That’s amazing. So, I think … Well, I mean, unless you have something else that you feel like you’d like to talk about, I have one more question for you.

Dean Karnazes: Okay. Is it a loaded question-

Hillary Allen: Oh, it’s not a loaded question, it’s just-

Dean Karnazes: … or is it drum roll please-

Hillary Allen: … I feel like you’ve been at the just the birth of ultrarunning and trail running, and where do you see the sport going?

Dean Karnazes: The sport is growing like crazy, so like I said, the first year I ran the Western States in 1994, there were 3300 people that finished an ultramarathon in North America. So, last year in 2018 there were 135,000 people that finished an ultramarathon in North America. So, the growth has been astronomical, and I think the growth’s going to continue, because like I say, I go to these marathons, and I work the expo, I’ll do a book signing or a poster signing or something, and I used to hear all the time, “Oh, I want to run 10 marathons. That’s my goal, I’m on number eight.” Now people don’t even care they say, “Oh man, I can’t wait to try an ultramarathon.”

Dean Karnazes: So, the road racers will continue to convert. I think I get a pretty good snapshot of the whole crowd that runs the ultramarathon, because like with the Endurance Challenge I’m giving off the ready, set, go, and then I’m there until the last person starts, and the elites are still a very small, maybe 5%, of the total runners. I mean, we forget, even with UTMB the elites are finishing in sub 24, most people finish between 35 and 40 hours.

Hillary Allen: Yeah.

Dean Karnazes: So yeah, a lot more people are in … and that I think is going to be the continued growth. I mean, more elites will get into it, but that’ll still be a fraction of the overall participants.

Hillary Allen: Yeah, I think that’s why it’s important to have different trail races that are accessible to everyone, to beginners, to people who are running in cities, and finding these “trails” even if they’re just a crushed dirt path, you know?

Dean Karnazes: Yeah.

Hillary Allen: So, I guess I have one more question for you, is it … what’s your best trail running advice for someone who’s looking to get into trails, or ultramarathoning?

Dean Karnazes: I think that, look inside yourself and see how you like to train and prepare, because to run an ultramarathon, you have to pay your dues, there’s no shortcuts. So, some people love running in groups, and like the accountability of a team and a coach, call CTS. Some people it’s a very private solo experience, they’re introverted, and they might just want to do it to see if they can do it. So, know thyself, and then use the approach to training based on who you are.

Hillary Allen: I like that, that’s great. I think there’s balance for everyone, there’s no right recipe, and exactly, know thyself. Very wise words.

Dean Karnazes: Yeah, say, listen to everyone, follow no one. So, take advice from as many people as you can, but find what works best for you, yeah.

Hillary Allen: Wow, that’s good for stubborn people, like me.

Dean Karnazes: You are stubborn, I’ve seen that side of you. I think that’s why you’re such a great champion as well, is you’re stubborn.

Hillary Allen: Oh, well, thank you. I should tell that my mother. All right, well, thank you so much for being on the podcast with us.

Dean Karnazes: Hey, I’m honored that I’m your first guest, wow. I’m very honored, so thank you, Hillary.

Hillary Allen: I mean, I hope to have you on here again, but yeah, thank you so much for your advice and your stories, I could talk to you all day.

Dean Karnazes: Well, good luck with your podcast career. You have a great radio voice, and you’re a really good interviewer, Terry Gross beware. Terry Gross beware, competition coming.

Hillary Allen: Oh, I hope so. Well, thanks again for your time, Dean.

Dean Karnazes: Okay, have a good day, Hillary.

Hillary Allen: You, too [crosstalk 00:32:47]-

Dean Karnazes: Cheers. Run on.


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