World-Renowned runner Dean Karnazes, who has earned the nickname Ultramarathon Man, will take part in the Mayor's Marathon in Lubbock next weekend.
Karnazes is probably best known for running 50 marathons in all 50 states in 50 days in 2006. He also once ran 262 miles, the equivalent of 10 marathons, without rest. He has completed at least two marathons in all seven continents. Karnazes once ran 135 miles miles from Death Valley to the Mt. Whitney Summit, which are the lowest and highest points in the continental United States. He's run a marathon in 120-degree temperatures in the Sahara Desert, and in -40 degree temperatures at the South Pole.
And believe it or not, when Karnazes heard a marathon was happening on Loop 289, he said he needed to participate.
Karnazes' mother-in-law lives in Lubbock and he's visited many times, so that makes it a little more believable.
"I've run under the Loop many, many times," Karnazes said over the phone Wednesday. "And I've certainly driven on the loop many times. But until this marathon I've never run on the Loop. That's part of the adventure. This is a unique event, and I'm very pleased the mayor is taking on fitness and health as an initiative."
Karnazes said the first time he went for a run in Lubbock, he was on a country road and a vehicle pulled over next to him and the driver asked if he needed a ride somewhere. So Karnazes is familiar with southern hospitality.
According to a news release, Karnazes will participate in a free community Q&A session and a book signing the Saturday before the race. The event begins at 11 a.m. on April 21 at the United Supermarkets located at 6313 4th St. Copies of his latest book, 'The Road to Sparta: Reliving the Ancient Battle and Epic Run that Inspired the World's Greatest Footrace' will be available for purchase.
Karnazes' story, and his commitment to running, has led him to becoming a best selling author, and being named one of TIME magazine's "Top 100 Most Influential People in the World." He's also had the honor of carrying the Olympic torch several times.
He admitted some of his accomplishments make even him scratch his head.
"I think the message, it kind of transcends running," he said of his popularity. "It's this idea of a guy being true to himself and saying, 'Boy, I love running.' I love testing the limits of human endurance. I'm going to take it to the limit, just to really push it ... I followed my dreams. I used to be a corporate employee, an executive, and I quit my job to become a runner because I like it more. I think that message resonates with people who may feel trapped in their daily existence. I think it gives people permission, saying, 'well he did it, I can do it.'"
Karnazes literally became a runner overnight. He said he ran growing up, but stopped for about 15 years when he went to college and began working. On the night of his 30th birthday when he was at a bar drinking with friends, he said he had the impulse to run. He left at midnight and ran 30 miles overnight.
"Instead of having another round of tequila to celebrate my 30th birthday, I decided to run 30 miles," Karnazes said. "And I became a runner."
Asked why running is important to him, Karnazes said it's difficult to put a finger on. He said it makes him live in the moment. Before running, his life was so comfortable that it was unsettling. Running is a challenge, and he said it's fulfilling.
The Ultramarathon Man said he often runs a marathon every day before breakfast, only to follow it up with a shorter, but a faster-paced, run later in the afternoon.
Karnazes considers himself an ambassador to running, and he commended Lubbock and the people involved for putting this marathon on.
Karnazes was asked by The United Family to participate in the Lubbock marathon. United is the title sponsor of Lubbock's first Mayor's Marathon.
“Dean has been an inspiration to athletes around the world,” said Robert Taylor, president of The United Family. "We share his values around the importance of exercise and proper nutrition and we couldn’t be prouder to bring him back to Texas to help us make the inaugural Mayor’s Marathon a success.”
Taylor said The United Family is interested in everything that involves health and nutrition, adding the Mayor's Marathon is shaping up to be quite the event. He said what makes this marathon so special - besides its location on the Loop, status as a qualifier to the Boston Marathon and Karnazes' involvement - is that it's for the entire family. He said there all sorts of runs besides a marathon people can participate in, plus there will be events at the park near the start and finish lines.
"The whole idea is about fitness, and making it fun and interesting to get outside," said Taylor. "The message is being active and being healthy are the same."
Lubbock Mayor Dan Pope said he's excited by Karnazes' involvement. In a way, he said, it puts a stamp of approval on the race.
"I think it’s fantastic," he said. "I’m pleased he’s going to be here. I’m thankful for the folks at United for not only stepping up to sponsor the first mayor's marathon, but also helping bring Dean (Karnazes) here.. this is something a lot of people are looking forward to."
Pope said he's looking forward to meeting the world-renowned runner - just as long as Karnazes doesn't ask about his own race times.
Karnazes offered up some small tips for people who may be running in their first marathon in a few days. He said don't go out and buy new shoes, because broken-in shoes are much better for a marathon. He also said to cut back on fiber a few days before the race. He urged runners to monitor the weather in advance so they can be prepared. And for men, he said to lubricate certain places, including nipples.
To all the local runners hoping to finish first, don't worry. Karnazes said his main objective is to enjoy the company and run alongside the people in Lubbock.
"I'll run to the best of my ability, but more so I just want to share some footsteps with the other runners," he said. "To me, running a marathon has become a goodwill thing, if that makes any sense."