Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I'm reading Ultramarathon Man

Dean Karnazes was one of the characters mentioned in Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen. McDougal's descprition isn't so kind, as he is used as a foil in opposition to Scott Jurek. I had read one of the other books mentioned in Born to Run, Lance Armstrong's autobiography (written by Sally JenkinsIt's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life. McDougall describes it as being the story of a warrior poet. It was good and gave me a much better understanding of who Armstrong is and his personal philosophy. Last summer, Michael Schoffman recommended Karnazes' book.

Michael had just months before met Dean. Michael was running his first marathon, the LA Marathon and around the 20th mile he looked over his shoulder and there was Dean Karnazes. Michael had already read his book so he starts talking to the guy and they ran the last 10k together.

Take a look at those Clock Times, they crossed the finish practically arm in arm.
Turns out Dean had previously rode some crazy contraption called the ElliptiGo for 500 miles to the start of the Marathon. Crazy Fuck.

So much cooler than my frenetic sprint around Central Park trying to keep up with Lance.

As I read the book I was enthralled and inspired. The book starts with all the charm of the Rocky Balboa narrative. It is a small underdog learning to escape his upper middle class yuppie existence by stretching free of all rational physical bounds. The whole transformation and training process capped by the epic battle with the Western States 100 stirred my soul.

Unfortunately after that portion (about a third of the book) the story devolves faster than the Rocky series. Each subsequent adventure, the Bad Water 100, running a marathon at the South Pole, running 199 miles straight, becomes equal parts repetitive and preposterous. He tries to engage the reader by explaining how dangerous running at the South Pole is. Yea. No shit its negative 100°. Don't be a dip shit. Its too cold to be outside.

Overall a good read but it's no Born to Run and even falls short of It's Not About the Bike.

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