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The Endurace 50 Final Video
Documentary Coming Spring 2007 from Journeyfilm
State: New Jersey
Weather: 57 degrees, rain
The next adventure has begun! I loaded all of my stuff into a jog stroller, and started running. It was raining, though luckily not too hard. More than anything, the rain cleared the air.
I’m not sure if I’m following the most direct route, though I’m proceeding in a general westward direction. Running I can do, that comes easy, because that is what I love. Trying to deal with the press, doing interviews, taking pictures, that stuff is challenging. It feels great to be free.
Of course, I already miss my family deeply. Funny as it sounds, running has become my life. It’s how I put food on the table, so I look at this journey across the country no differently than a businessman who travels for extended periods, or a serviceman who is stationed overseas. If I weren’t running, I’d be sitting behind a desk and probably not very happy. I’ll also be able to work on my second book along the way, thus I’m carrying a digital recorder to write as I run.
As you can imagine, I got some pretty funny looks today. I got some even funnier expressions when I asked for directions. What inspired me most is the enthusiasm of the people I talked with when they learned of what I was doing. It broke through any barriers that may otherwise exist between people, and you could absolutely sense the wonderment in their eyes. Who would ever expect to encounter a person running to San Francisco on some random street corner in New York?! I was tickled and touched by some of the comments and expressions, and I think they were as well.
You can now follow my progress by clicking here: Where's Dean?
Miles: To be determined
Weather: 56 degrees, rain
Today is the most liberating, terrifying, exciting, and confusing day of my life. I am walking out of a hotel room in New York City, and running west. Why west? Because that is the direction of my house in San Francisco. Yes, I am running home from the New York City Marathon, the final marathon of the Endurance 50, across the country back to my house.
What is my plan? I really don’t have one. There is no script here. It will be kind of like reality TV, only this is not TV. I’m not sure of the route I’ll follow, I’m not sure where I’ll stay, I’m not sure how long it will take. All I know is that my heart is telling me this is the right thing to do.
My family is behind me, which is the most important thing. I talked with them at length to get their feelings about this next leg of the journey, and they were 100% supportive and encouraging. “It will be fun, dad,” my daughter, Alexandria, said, “We’ll come find you every weekend and run together.”
The Endurance 50 was more of a spiritual journey than a running event. None of us had ever anticipated this would be the case. People from around the globe united and came together in ways that were astonishing to us all. We saw the very best in human nature, we saw the human spirit come through in remarkable and touching ways. In a world that can be so divided, running showed us that it has the power to unify people.
So let us run.
The Endurace 50 Final Video - Documentary Coming Spring 2007 from Journeyfilm
This was the last recovery run before “departure,” the final sentence of a chapter in my life that will never be forgotten. The photo’s and video documentary will serve as a reminder of this incredible journey, but nothing will ever replace the firsthand experience of the people we have met, and the places we have been.
Tomorrow is a new beginning, though I will always remember with crystal clarity the past fifty days.
Long live the Endurance 50.
The Endurace 50 Final Video - Documentary Coming Spring 2007 from Journeyfilm
Weather: 60 degrees, dry
Today was the first day in fifty days that I didn’t start the morning with a marathon. It didn’t feel very good. I was stiff by midmorning, and really feeling tight by afternoon. My body almost seems to have adapted to running everyday, and not running is the foreign state. The solution, go running.
Tonight was the first night run I’ve done in a couple months. I truly enjoy running at night, and with the full moon illuminating the skyline, it was really gorgeous out. I ran from my hotel to Central Park, and then ran the original NYC Marathon course. There were lots of runners and bikers out, and the weather was very warm for this time of year.
I’m still trying to figure out how to close out this most remarkable chapter of my life. It’s been said that all good things must come to an end, though I’m not sure why (the bad things don’t seem to have such lifespan limitations). The Endurance 50 is over, and a new chapter is about to begin. I’m not sure how to do justice to the past fifty days.
For now, here are some stats on the Endurance 50:
Number of shoes: 5 pair
Number of socks: 18 pair
Number of lost toenails: 3
Number of blisters: 2
Number of calories per day: 5,000 to 6,000
Number of trail marathons: 5
Hottest temperature: 104 degrees, Arizona
Coldest temperature: 38 degrees, Alaska
Faster time: 3:00:30 - NYC Marathon, #50
Slowest time: 4:45:21 - Tecumseh Trail Marathon, #39
Longest drive: 11 ½ hours
Shortest drive: 55 minutes
Average hours of sleep: 4 ½
Starting weight: 154
Finish weight: 153
More to come,
50 marathons, 50 states, 50 days, done! All I can say is that this past fifty days was more than I ever could have imagined. Way more.
Very best to you all, and hope to see you down the road,
Today was unbelievable. Absolutely unbelievable. Hundreds of runners, all ages, all abilities, all filled with incredible nonstop energy. We told stories, laughed, high-fived, hugged, wept, and basically celebrated an incredible moment for us all. The collective spirit between the group was totally monumental.
The biggest bummer for me was that I was ushered away so quickly. I only wish that I could have stayed at the finish for hours, not precious few minutes, but my crew had to get me to NYC as soon as they could. I wanted to savor this day, to treat myself to a long afternoon surrounded by terrific people, reminiscing about the adventures over the past forty-nine day, and dreaming about the future. Instead, the splendor of it all was compressed into one beautiful diamond of a memory, something small and compact, but worth cherishing for a lifetime.
New York City, here we come,
The Endurance 50 Family
P.S. The “finish party” in New York City will be on November 5th from 12:00-4:00 PM. The location is at The North Face retail store: 2101 Broadway (at 73rd), New York, (not far from the NYC Marathon finish). Phone number: 212-362-1000
All Endurance 50 participants (at any of the 50 marathons across the country), guests and fans are welcomed. So please swing by if you can. We’d love to see you!
Things have reached a fever pitch. The momentum and spirit of everyone involved, from the Endurance 50 team, to the police officers escorting the group, to the runners themselves, has become absolutely phenomenal.
Today was like a dream. People lining the streets screaming and cheering, supporters handing water and food from the sidewalk, passing motorist honking and shouting well-wishes as they passed, kids waving handmade posters. No one can believe what the Endurance 50 has become, it’s blown us all away, in a wonderful fairytale like way.
I could fill this page with amazing stories from today, if only I had longer access to the internet. For now I will just say, it was remarkable and heartwarming.
Stay tuned for future updates, I look forward to updating today soon as I possibly can.
The Endurance 50 Family
P.S. The “finish party” in New York City will be on November 5th from 12:00-4:00 PM. The location is at The North Face retail store: 2101 Broadway (at 73rd), New York, (not far from the NYC Marathon finish). Phone number: 212-362-1000
All Endurance 50 participants (at any of the 50 marathons across the country), guests and fans are welcomed. So please swing by if you can. We’d love to see you!
Magical. There is no other way to describe today.
We had runners from Germany, New Zealand, Canada, and Mexico. Runners had flown in from Florida, Texas, New Mexico, Oregon, and Wisconsin. A set of brothers had flown in from California, a set of brothers had flown in from Utah and Idaho. One runner was celebrating his 40th birthday with this marathon, one runner was celebrating his 40th marathon. There were runners of all ages and abilities, some running well under four hours, some taking six. Many finished their first marathon today, many didn’t make it as far as they had hoped and vouched to keep trying in the future and to never give up. Some set PR’s today, some just cruised and enjoyed the atmosphere. Everybody seemed to sincerely enjoy the experience, but none so much as me.
I saw new friendships being made, runners exchanging phone numbers and email addresses. I saw people helping those that were struggling, and at points we were all struggling. I witnessed people being really good to each other, being extremely supportive and compassionate toward one another. Today I saw the best in human nature, and I felt so fortunate that my family, myself, and all of the Endurance 50 team could be there to share in the occasion.
The only bummer news is, like tonight, I will have limited access to a computer for the next several days. I’ll do all that I can to get something posted, and will definitely come back to these days afterward and complete the story.
For now, I feel good, a little sleep deprived, but good. I’m still staying focused on the task at hand, and not getting ahead of myself. Tomorrow, I will try my best. That is my commitment. Hopefully there will be a next day, and a next, but for now I’ll just keep putting one foot in front of the other, moving forward one step at a time.
The Endurance 50 Family (and we have truly become family)
P.S. The “finish party” in New York City will be on November 5th from 12:00-4:00 PM. The location is at The North Face retail store: 2101 Broadway (at 73rd), New York, (not far from the NYC Marathon finish). Phone number: 212-362-1000
All Endurance 50 participants (at any of the 50 marathons across the country), guests and fans are welcomed. So please swing by if you can. We’d love to see you!
They say that running saves lives. Today it did, quite literally. We began the Baltimore Marathon this morning with a Police escort eleven strong. Our group was proceeding down a street just past the two mile mark when someone noticed smoke coming out of the window of a second story building up ahead. By the time we reached that building, flames were erupting out of the window and the heat from the fire reached us all the way in the street. We were told to dash ahead quickly and wait at the next intersection. The officers circled back and broke down the door. Rushing inside, they pulled three people out of the building, including a baby. It all happened so quickly, it was hard to make sense of what was going on.
After regrouping, we started off again, a bit shaken, but still intact. In talking with one of the officers, had they not been driving down that very street at that very time, there was likely no way they could have responded quickly enough to get those folks out of the building in time. By mere coincidence, our run had put them in the right place at the right time. Amazing start to the day.
We ran past some incredible places during the marathon, including Fort McHenry, the birthplace of our national anthem. You actually see the cannons and the place where the harbor was bombed. As we ran by, I could just envision Francis Scott Key watching, “…the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air…,” and it gave me goose bumps as we passed by.
As we ran past a local hospital, a mother of one of the runner’s was out in front taking pictures. He was a young guy, a first-time marathoner, and it ends up his brother was in the hospital with his sister-in-law, who was currently in labor. His Mom wanted to be part of both “events,” and as fate would have it, the hospital was right on the marathon course!
At mile 15, a local tavern was awaiting our arrival and had setup an aid station with water, and, get this, samples of beer. About half the runners partook. If you’ve got to get down the carbohydrates, I guess that’s one way to do it.
The Baltimore Marathon finishes at M&T Bank Stadium (Camden Yards). As we made our way down the final stretch, the streets were busy and crowded with people watching us run by. Someone yelled, “Why are you running?” One of the runners yelled back, “Because we can.” Everyone on the street applauded and cheered his response. Even though most of them were clearly not runners, I think they got the gist of his comeback.
At the finish, I was talking with one of the runner’s who had originally planned on doing the half, but decided to try the full marathon at the midpoint, and made it! I asked him if he had learned anything from the experience. “Yeah,” he said, “I learned that limitations are between my ears.” Today he turned off that part of his mind that says, “I can’t,” and just put one foot in front of the other, and did.
We also got some exciting news at the finish, our other first-time marathoner had just become an uncle! His sister-in-law delivered about the exact same time he completed his first marathon. I would say his Mom was one proud lady today. He was so excited to get his book and finishers certificate signed so he could dash over to the hospital.
I was honored to have the opportunity to meet the gifted athletes of the Special Olympics, Maryland at the finish. They were the most spirited and enthusiastic bunch I could ever imagine, and we joked and told stories about sports, and about life. They had been tracking on the Endurance 50 over the past 46 days, and they wished me all the best in completing the remaining four marathons.
It was another day to relish. The other runners were absolutely terrific, and their positive energy and passion will help carry me far. Best wishes to you all, and keep going strong. Why? Because you can.
What better was to celebrate Halloween than by running through the enchanted forest of Guilford County. The Triple Lake Trails could be an eerie place, especially on October 31st. The trees are thick and gnarled, and the trail winds confusingly through the backwoods in a never ending “Blair Witch” like conundrum. Weird noises echoed off in the distance, first sounding like barking dogs, then like blowing wind whistling through tree branches, only to reverberate into the dull roar of a distant stream, the direction of which could never be isolated. Spooky stuff.
Luckily the trail was well marked. It still was tricky going, though, with lots of potential hazards lurking below a thick layer of fallen leaves which effectively concealed most of the obstacles. I fell several times, as did many of the other runners. Being that it’s Halloween, I kept envisioning these skeleton hands hiding below the surface and grabbing at our feet and ankles as we past by.
The sun shot broken shards of light through the thickets, distorting the ground and playing tricks with your footing. There were times when everything melded into one, as though you could step freely onto a stable floor of leaves, but this was just an illusion. Every footstep needed to be executed with precision, or a stumble was inevitable. Combine this technically challenging terrain with plenty of climbs and descents, and you have one haunting Halloween marathon.
This was the sixth “Trail Marathon” during the Endurance 50. As much as I love running on trails, after forty-four marathons, a mellower version—kind of a Triple Lake Trails Marathon “Lite”—would have been just fine, thank you. But the people and the setting turned something that would have been memorable, into something that will be unforgettable. The Endurance 50 has been about superlatives, and today the streak continued.
There was a marathon finish party setup outside of VF corporate headquarters (VF is the parent company of The North Face, who is the title sponsor of the Endurance 50). I ran to the finish with the 5th grade class of a local school, and were met by the Mayor and the Chairman & CEO of VF. They were serving lunch to 1,200 employees and members of the community. After the luncheon, they presented me with a bronzed shoe commemorating the Endurance 50, and a donation of $5,000 to Karno Kids to help support youth outdoor activity programs. They invited my daughter and son, as well as me, onto the stage to accept the award and donation, which I think illustrates VF’s commitment to our youth and community.
After the presentation, I got to spend some time with the other runners, swapping war stories from the trail, comparing bruises, and laughing about the juxtaposition of finishing one of the most demanding marathons of your life, and then being ushered to an awards banquet directly afterward covered in dirt and grime.
After all the runners had departed, we packed up the bus, loaded everybody onboard, and headed off down the highway once again. Thanks to you all for a Halloween “treat” my family and I will never forget.
On the road again,
Dean & Crew
All Endurance 50 participants (at any of the 50 marathons across the country), guests and fans are welcomed. So please swing by if you can!
Sunday was cool and windy, today was warm and sunny, with hardly a breath of wind. Yesterday there were tens of thousands of people lining the streets, today on Kiawah Island there were just an intimate group of us runners. Yesterday was hurried and stressful, today was breezy and relaxed. While there’s no such thing as an “easy” marathon, today was about as good as it gets.
Kiawah Island is one laid-back place, and the atmosphere at the start was tranquil and easygoing. There was hardly a ruffle of air, the leaves hung lazily from the trees as the morning sun poked through the branches. Birds chirped. Squirrels gathered acorns. Deer grazed on nearby shrubs, unruffled by the crowd. The stillness was broken, however, when the group started off down the road, hooting and hollering as we proceeded on our way.
There was very little traffic on the road, so we got to talking early on. Two of the runners had run with me in Seattle and, on a whim, decided to fly out today to run another (beats sitting at a desk, as one of them put it). Another had come down from Canada (to work on his tan). There was a German athlete celebrating her 50th birthday today, the marathon was a present from her husband, who was also running with us. We had a spirited young couple from Atlanta (“he’s driving home,” she said, “and I’m sleeping”). There were six first-time marathoners, a handful of ultramarathoners, several triathletes, and a member of the Air Force Special Ops, with an insignia on his calf, NSDQ (Night Stalkers Don’t Quit).
The run was quite flat, and remarkably scenic. We passed by several ponds and pristine marshlands, wove through numerous tree-lined streets, ran along a meandering footpath that was shaded by a canopy of green vines and shrubs, and passed by some of the most stunning estates I have ever seen. When we ran past one of the lakes near a golf course, there were two eyes and some flaring nostrils lurking along the surface. Yes, an alligator!
All was going beautifully well, until we missed a turn. I felt so badly for the other runners who followed me the wrong way, but scarcely a grumble was heard as we retraced our steps backwards, except from me. I felt so horrible. When we finally did cross the finish line, my GPS read 27.8* miles. It was my second “ultra” during the Endurance 50, and a fitting conclusion to an otherwise “easy” marathon.
All of the runners today were incredibly upbeat and appreciative, even though I misguided a group of them down the wrong path. One of guys commented that it was his first marathon, his Personal Record, and also his first ultramarathon, all in one day! With an attitude like that, there’s no such thing as a wrong turn, just a few extra training miles among friends.
As my daughter, Alexandria, is fond of saying: “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.”
Always the best,
P.S. Many of you have asked about the “finish party” in New York City on November 5th. Provided I make it that far, all of you are invited! It’s taking place from 12:00-4:00 PM near the NYC Marathon finish at The North Face retail store located at 2101 Broadway (at 73rd), New York, phone number (212) 362-1000. Please swing by if you can!
They call the Marine Corps Marathon, “The People’s Marathon,” and now I understand why. Besides the 34,000 runners, there were nearly 100,000 spectators lining the course. This is a marathon of the People, by the People, and for the People. And what better way to commemorate our independence, to celebrate our freedom, to honor our liberty and the men and women who protect it, than to boldly undertake the challenge of running a marathon through our nation’s capital.
It was a proud moment as I stood at the starting line and they announced to the crowd that I was running my forty-third consecutive marathon. The Marine’s next to me saluted me, which gave me the chills and made me chuckle at the same time. I got the chills because I felt so honored; I chuckled because we were all standing there in running gear.
Many of my friends and training partners are active in the service or have served our country. I am forever grateful to those who have protected our freedom and the rights of freedom loving people across the world. Running the Marine Corp Marathon was my way of saying, “Thank you.”
It was impossible not to feel proud to be an American as you ran past the Kennedy Center, entered the National Mall, ran past the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and then by our nation’s Capitol. On the return, you pass the Jefferson Memorial, the Pentagon, and eventually finish at the Marine Corps War Memorial. It is truly a beautiful course, a marathon of the monuments.
Conditions today were tough, with a strong wind blowing out of the north. There were also plenty of hills to contend with, especially near the end. My body is still a bit brutalized from the spill I took on Friday, and it showed, not just in the bandages on the outside, but also in the bruises and muscle soreness on the inside, which slowed me down. A few more days of heeling will be welcomed.
The people today were terrific, both the other runners and the spectators. This is the land of the free and the home of the brave, and I saw plenty of heroic efforts during the marathon, especially near the end when people were really hurting. Several runners ran arm-in-arm, shuffling courageously toward the finish. One man apparently collapsed ten feet from the finish, and then crawled across the line. Another limped on one leg through the finish as passersby shouted words of encouragement. Today, we
American’s band together, and although it wasn’t always pretty, we got the job done.
Fifty states, one nation, and lots of sore muscles,
I needed today. This was the worst morning yet, the fall yesterday took a lot out of me. More than the cuts and abrasions, I woke up bruised and sore, wondering how my body would cope today. Ideally you want to show up somewhat fresh at the start of each marathon, not battered and beaten. The past three days had been really rough, so I was hoping today would offer some relief. Thankfully my hopes were answered.
The weather in Florida surprised us all. The forecast was calling for 80% chance of showers, but not a drop fell from the sky. Although it did get a little toasty at times, temperatures actually cooled toward the finish, much to the delight of all the runners. The course was well laid out, very flat (the biggest “hills” were three bridge crossings), and support along the way was abundant. The only slight bummer was a fairly brisk headwind, but if everything was perfect, it wouldn’t be a marathon.
The buzz at the start was electric. Not only were there a dozen first-time marathoners, there were four people celebrating birthdays! One of the guys was celebrating his 42nd birthday, here on the 42nd marathon, and today was his 50th marathon (though, he reminded me, they weren’t all in a row). We had a father/son team running, and the last marathon Dad had run was in 1980. There were a couple ultramarathoners in the group, a couple triathletes, and a competitive limbo dancer.
Several firsts occurred today. I saw the first alligator during the tour. We had our first professional singer start the morning with the National Anthem. And, lastly, as you might imagine, I’ve seen a fair number of road kills during the tour, but today I saw the first smooshed fish on the highway.
The group undulated quite a bit today. The main packed swelled and contracted with every passing mile,some runners dashing ahead, and some staying behind. As the run wore on, people seemed content to find a pace they were comfortable with, and go with it. Nobody was particularly concerned about much of anything besides having a goodtime. The atmosphere today was particularly easygoing. Along with the change in latitude came a change in attitude.
We came around a corner a couple miles from the finish and heard some chanting, “Forty-two, we love you. Forty-two, we love you…” There, waiting for us, was Team Trilogy, a youth triathlon club. The kids were so fired-up to see us, they were in uniform and ready to charge. We all ran the last miles,together. It was a terrific finish to another unforgettable day.
As we sat around eating birthday cake at the finish line, many people asked me what I’m going to doafter the Endurance 50 is over? I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but if I make it to fifty and am having this much fun, why stop? I’ll be officially unemployed, in the best shape of my life, with plenty of time on my hands, so why not just keep going? Until that point, I’m going to continue taking it one step at a time. But if I reach the finish on November 5th in New York City, who knows, the Endurance 50 might become more than that.
When will I decide? Like those kids from the Trilogy Tri team who ran with me today, I’ll just follow my heart and see where it takes me…
All the best from the Sunshine State,
The hospitality in Georgia today, for myself and my family, was heartwarming. People were so gracious in making us feel comfortable and welcomed; it was like a homecoming with old friends. Runners are like that, we share a kindred spirit, and across the country we’ve felt this bond, regardless of the setting or the circumstance. In Georgia today, we felt that connection in a big sort of way.
Even before we got going, people were apologizing about the weather, as though they would change it if they could. The rain was coming down pretty hard at the start. We runners huddled under the one small shelter there was, trying to stay out of the elements for as long as possible. Despite the poor weather, there was no lack of enthusiasm in the group.
Georgia is an international city, and I let the group know that our adventure is being followed by people across the globe. We’ve received notes and well-wishes from many European countries, Canada, Africa, Asia, Australia, many South American nations, and a whole host of others (basically, camaraderie from around the world). Today we were fifty people, uniting a planet.
Rain? Bring it on! I got the feeling it would take a lot more than bad weather to stop this group. We set off on our way to the flashes of cameras and the cheers of the crowd. The wetness didn’t dampen spirits, even for the dozen first-time marathoners in the group. This was going to be a very challengingday, the showery weather would make things extremely demanding. Visibility would be poor, and hazards plenty. I was very concerned about the other runners.
So it was ironic that I would be the one to trip. It was a nice little spill, costing me a toenail and some flesh and blood. But I could hardly complain. The runner next to me had survived cancer, three times.He had refused to give up, even in the face of horrible odds. If he could endure through pain I could only imagine, I wasn’t about to let a little roadside tumble bring me down. My pain was nowhere close to what this courageous soul had been through.
We ran in what sometimes seemed like a battle zone. The rain continued to come down, flooding the streets and obscuring potentially hazardous potholes and open ditches. The run went on and on forever, and we missed a turn near the end, prolonging the drama. When the finish line finally did come into view, it was a welcomed sight. My anxiety continued to be high until every last runner crossed that finish line or was accounted for. It was treacherous out there, and I couldn’t stop worrying about the runners. I witnessed several others slip and fall, and my heart skipped a beat every time I saw it happen. Yet for all of my concern, the other runners were equally concerned about me. The credit for me being able to finish today belongs to them. They lifted my spirit and kept me going, even when I had doubts.
As remarkable as it seems, I still did not hear a single complaint from any of the runners. We gathered at the finish, and all I heard were upbeat affirmations on how memorable the day was. These were some of the most harrowing conditions possible, and even among the first-time marathoners, thepositive energy was irrepressible. Several people said how proud they were of me. I graciously accepted their kind sentiments, but all I could think of was how proud I was of them.
You are my hero’s, and I thank each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart.
Battered and bruised, but unwilling to give up,
If we’re going to crank up the intensity scale, let’s not mess around. Today’s marathon was every bit as tough as yesterday’s, and perhaps even more so. The path was tricky, mostly single-track, with plenty of roots and trail debris—loose rocks, stumps, broken branches—strewn across it. There were several water crossings, and plenty of mud and slippery rocks to challenge the footing. The flat sections were few, the descents were treacherous, and the climbs were arduous (there was about 2,700 feet of ascent). Overall, it was one great day!
Otter Creek, Kentucky isn’t exactly a booming metropolis, and getting there requires some doing. But here on a random Thursday in October, forty-five intrepid runners made the trek (don’t any of these people have jobs…hee! hee!). Many of the runners had never run a trail marathon before, and ten of the runners had never even run a marathon before. Some trail marathons are little more than wide, graded fire roads over gentle rolling hills. This was not one of them. For a first-time marathoner, or for someone running her first trail marathon, this was a doozie.
That being said, the terrain and setting were absolutely stunning. All of the elements that made runningso challenging—sharp drop offs, stream crossings, a forest of trees—also made for some incredible sights along the way. The abrupt topographical features of the Otter Creek Trail provided some epic overlooks across the river, and the high vistas along the northern section of the trail made for some stellar views of the adjacent valley.
The runners today were a hardy lot. Even the first-time marathoners toughed it out, despite the ruggedterrain and brutal climbs. Everyone displayed a gritty determination in the face of some daunting conditions. In talking to some of the athletes afterward, I could see where this drive came from. One runner was a tank commander in the US Army, another was Special Forces. We had an ex-boxer turned runner in the group, and a homemaker with five kids (all boys). Let me tell you, she was one tough Mama! There were cuts, bruises, sprains, and plenty of handshakes and high-fives going around.
We all convened inside the Otter Creek park headquarters post-race, where the Race Director had a table of warm, home cooked food spread out for everyone. Between bites of chili, we talked about politics, baseball, and compared battle wounds. One runner thanked me for the best run of his life. He had a big gash over his right eye from a fall, was covered in mud, and had just spent 26.2 torturous miles trouncing through the wilderness. And he’s thanking me for this? I love this guy!
It was hard saying goodbye to everybody and boarding the bus. These were my kind of people. I felt so at home amongst the sweaty, dirty, and beat up runners; I didn’t want to leave. But the road beaconed. It’s going to be a long drive tonight and I’m all grimy and sore, and very, very happy.
Still moving forward, and loving every step of the way,
Hardcore. That’s the best way to describe today’s marathon. Along with the 3,500 feet of climbing, most of the course was on technical single-track trail, with numerous stream crossings, hordes of logs and branches to climb over and navigate around, deep pocket of mud, slippery rocks, and gnarled tree roots hiding silently under thick canopies of fallen leaves.
The switchbacks were difficult to follow, and if you looked up for a trail marker, it was easy to stumble and fall, which many people did, including yours truly (multiple times, in fact). A lot of the runners were cut and scratched from falling or getting snagged on the thorny bushes that we passed through. I’ve spent some time on the trails over the years, and this trail run was as challenging as any.
Arriving at the start this morning was surreal. We were miles from the nearest town, out on a desolateroadway, and there were fifty-five beaming runners raring to go, fourteen of whom had never run a marathon before. Other than the couple of runners who had been here before, I’m not sure many of us had any idea what we were in for. After starting on our way, the course almost immediately hit single-track trail, and within a mile I had an inclination that this was going to be an interesting and different sort of day. My expectations were fulfilled.
There were very few sections along this course that were flat. You were either climbing or descending the entire way. Most of the route was in thick foliage, making it sometimes difficult to see ahead, and the trail was covered in leaves, compounding the navigational complexities. We traversed countless switchbacks, some ascending and some descending, and skirted several creeks and ravines. At a number of points we got lost and had to retrace our steps to get back on the path.
Yet for all the challenges, the setting was absolutely beautiful. Running on trails refreshes the senses; being out in nature renews the mind, body, and spirit. Today was about enjoying the elements and the wonders of the natural world. The colors of the leaves, the smells of earth and of the water, the sunlight streaming through the trees, and the crackle of twigs underfoot were all engaging and invigorating. It was impossible not to get swept up in it, even after miles of running.
When we finally did cross the finish line, my GPS read 27.5 miles. Those couple wrong turns added a bitof distance, so today was the first “ultramarathon” of the Endurance 50. But it was also a day I will never forget, especially for those first-time marathoners that made it. I couldn’t even imagine tackling this course as your first marathon. Your second will feel like a walk in the park.
At the finish, when we didn’t have to worry about tripping over branches, I was able to chat more freely with the other runners. The group today was comprised of some truly amazing people. A father/daughter running team, a professional golfer elated to have finished his first marathon, a state Superintendent of Schools, and a gentleman who couldn’t run a mile a year ago and had lost 100 lbs and completed his first marathon today.
Many, if not most, were scratched and scrapped from the trail. But, remarkably, I did not hear one complaint from the group, not so much as even the slightest hint at a gripe. On the contrary, people were incredibly thankful and gracious for the extraordinary adventure we shared together. They were nothing but smiles and compliments, despite the cuts, lacerations, and muscle cramps. If I could somehow bottle all this positive energy and spread it around the globe, the world would be a better place.
All the best from the trails of Indiana,
I’m not sure where to begin today, my head is still reeling from all the incredible events that transpired and all the remarkable people we met. It was like compressing the most memorable experiences of a decade into a single amazing day. Where to start?
Let’s talk about the runners, first, and how terrific this crew was. They had come from far and near—two had flown in yesterday from San Francisco—and comprised a broad range of athletes, from first-time marathoners, to seasoned ultramarathoners, like my two friends Pam Reed and Roy Purring that joined us today. There were a number of triathletes in the group, a competitive cyclist, a black belt in Kung Fu, and an Officer in the United States Army. All seemed like dedicated and committed runners, and tremendously positive people.
Support along the course was excellent, both from Garrett & Koop in the SAG wagon, and from supporters that setup roaming aid stations along the route (by the way, for the many of you that have asked, I found out that “SAG” stands for, Support and Gear). After starting in historic downtown, we crossed the Ray Nitschke Bridge to the charming streets of west Green Bay. Eventually we crossed the Walnut Street Bridge and ran along the beautiful Fox River Trail for six miles. Being on a path was a nice change of setting and scenery. Upon exiting the path, we ran past Voyager Park to the picturesque tree-lined streets of east and west De Pere and toward the finish.
Approaching the final stretch, we met up with my son, Nicholas, who turned nine years old today. To celebrate his 9th birthday, he and his sister, Alexandria, had run the last nine miles of the marathon together and timed it so that we would be meeting them near the finish. We joined together and did the historic last lap through Lambeau Field, home of the Green Bay Packers. It was such a magical experience to be running alongside Nicholas and all the others through Lambeau Field, cheering and hooting as we finished the last few steps together. For a proud and loving father, it just doesn’t get any better. And to be able to share this moment will so many wonderful and compassionate individuals made the occasion all the more special.
After crossing the finish, we were greeted by the Mayor of Green Bay, Jim Schmitt, who presented Nicholas with an enormous Green Bay Packers birthday cake. Then he proceeded to give Nicholas the most remarkable birthday gift ever, a signed football by the Green Bay Packers team. Nicholas was absolutely filled with joy. Watching him on stage with Mayor Schmitt was like witnessing a fairytale unfold. In the heart of a nine year old boy, it was the best birthday he could have ever asked for.
Nicholas is a very generous soul, and after blowing out the candles, he offered cake to all the runners. It was amazing how quickly that huge cake disappeared! Even though we’d spent the better part of 26.2 miles talking and sharing stories, it was really nice to be able to mingle further with the group at the finish festival (between bites of birthday cake). I’m continually amazed at how many first-time marathoners cross the line, and how many people set PR’s. It’s such an inspiration to talk with these folks and see the elation in their eyes. I don’t know how they do it. But like the magic of a perfect day, I’m just glad they do.
Keeping the spirit alive in Green Bay,
The Karno Family
Due to the traffic in Chicago, the drive last night was longer than anticipated, so we got in very late and had to get up early this morning. The day started with another blood draw, and both arms got stuck this time. A few hours of sleep and a dual needle stick isn’t the most cheery start to the day. But I tried my best to remain upbeat. Then when I stepped outside, a blast of cold air stopped me in my tracks. It was near freezing, and the forecast wasn’t for it to warm up much at all. Today was looking like a rough one.
And it got worse. We were nearly half an hour late getting to the starting line. I was so concerned about the other runners being out there in the freezing cold waiting for me. More than my lack of sleep or sore arms, I was worried about the other runners.
When we got to the start, however, they gave me an ovation as I jumped out of the car. I couldn’tbelieve it. Here I was half an hour behind schedule, and they’re all standing there in the cold graciously applauding my arrival. When I started to apologize about being late, they would have none of it. This group was so positive, so energetic, so compassionate, they were worried about me and thought little of standing in the freezing cold until I got there. These were some of the greatest individuals imaginable, and this was the warmest reception I could ever ask for.
And it got better. Once we started running, the warm sentiments were like a ray of sunlight shining down upon us. Runners had come from across the nation to be here today: a couple were from Southern California (where the temperature today is 80 degrees), there was a gentleman who’d flown in from Denver, several Missourians were in the group, a token Canadian, and a whole host of folks from neighboring states. There were runners of all abilities and backgrounds, from ultramarathoners to first-time marathoners, from college students to surgeons. We all shared one common passion, a love of running.
And run we did. The entire course was on a paved footpath, so there were no concerns about motortraffic. It was a scenic course around Lake Harriet and Lake Calhoun, with duck and geese crossings along the way. There were supporters at many spots on the course, holding signs and offering food andencouragement. Many were kids, with posters they had made for class projects. Everybody got a kick out of their spirit.
Temperatures warmed slightly during the middle of the run, but cooled considerably toward the end. But the cold didn’t stop anybody from completing what they’d set out to do. In fact, a few who had only intended of running a half-marathon ended up doing the entire thing!
This was a hardy bunch. Standing around the finish line was freezing, but not even the bitter cold could subdue the warm hearts in this group. We laughed at the cold, saying this was a day none of us would soon forget. I signed some books and t-shirts, congratulated the first-time marathoners and all the other runners on their accomplishment, and chatted with everyone until the crowd departed and I was the last one remaining.
I’d hardly felt tired the entire day, but then the cumulative lack of sleep started to take hold, as did the chilly air. It’s sometimes difficult to run a marathon and then type up the daily blog afterward, especially when you’re sleep deprived and cold. But a lovely young lady had given me a gift today. She’d approached me at the finish and handed me two beautiful coloring books for Alexandria and Nicholas. This was not the only gift she bestowed upon me, however. She went on to explain the tragic loss of her friends daughter, saying the precious little girl used to love these coloring books. Her mother was grieving deeply and the one small thing she looked forward to every day was reading my daily updates on the website.
With tears in my eyes, I thanked her for the gifts. The coloring books were special, yet the inspiration to keep doing my best, despite any amount of exhaustion and fatigue, was an even bigger gift.
With tears still in my eyes, I bid farewell to Minnesota and the many great people that touched me today. Your weather numbed my bones, but your spirit warmed my heart.
The Chicago Marathon was everything it’s built up to be, and more. Even in the cold and windy conditions, enthusiastic fans lined both sides of the streets cheering and yelling, in just about every known language. Their zeal was contagious; it was impossible not to get caught up in the excitement as you ran.
Along the course, I must have chatted with a couple dozen runners who had joined me at various other marathons during the past 36 days. One brought me a container filled with chocolate covered espresso beans and handed it to me at mile five as we ran together. Another ordered a Chicago-style deep dish pizza and had it delivered to us along the course. And a third, a fellow Greek, arranged for a fresh tray of baklava to be waiting at the halfway point. The running itself was great, but the antics along the course were even better.
The body felt good today, despite the cold and blustery weather. My head cold seems to have reached its peak, and I’m now starting to feel better. The legs are still holding strong, perhaps getting even stronger with each progressive day. Today I was able to run a sub-3:30 marathon with an average heart rate of 122. I’m guardedly optimistic about the future, and will continue taking it one step at a time, enjoying the fine food and the fine people along the way.
All the best from the Windy City,
Dean & his many Greek relatives
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Not only were the runners remarkable, the course itself was a delightful mixture of road and charming tree-lined paths along the banks of the Grand River. The scenery was beautiful, and the people were even better. Along with a terrific group of local athletes, runners today came in from California, BritishColumbia, Alaska, Montana, Atlanta, and a crew from Nebraska drove half the night to run today in their Cornhuskers foam “Corn Head” hats. We also had an esteemed guest from Runner’s World join us, and his sister ran as well (she ran the farthest…hee! hee!)
Conditions today were ideal, and the group took off at a fairly aggressive pace. I always like to bring up the rear, that’s who gets the food first from the support vehicle. We hit the half at 2:03, and I was in the middle pack, the front-runners were way up ahead. My motto during these marathons has been: “Go slow, and eat lots.” I always try to do my best with both. Of course, this wouldn’t be possible without the great support we get during the run from the Endurance 50 “SAG” wagon and those tireless lads inside, Garrett and Koop.
Today, just like every other day, these guys dispensed endless bottles of water, Cytomax, Gels, Body Glide, and Nature’s Path energy bars, always with a smile. They even got the tunes going on some external speakers they’d rigged to the roof rack, often taking runner’s song requests as we went. I must have heard from at least a dozen people today about how great those guys are, and I couldn’t agree more. This event would never be what it is without Garrett & Koop.
The group today was very strong, and everyone finished in fairly close proximity. We had our firsthandicapped runner today, and she absolutely blew my mind (and everyone else’s) with her consistency. Her pace was so steady, you could set your clock to it! A number of first-time marathoners, women and men, bounded across the finish line, and a few PR’s were set in the group as well. Overall, it seemed to be a great time by all.
The outpouring of support today for Karno Kids was unprecedented. Michigan is not known as the fittest state in the union, but from what I saw today, there are certainly pockets of hope. These were some of the most dedicated and committed crusaders I’ve ever met, healthy and happy folks working together to create change. Not only am I encourage by the runners and the people I met today, I am inspired.
Grand Rapids might make fine furniture, but it’s the people that leave a lasting impression.
Picture this: big city, pouring rain, cold and windy day, people scurrying under umbrellas trying to get to the office, and fifty of the most fired-up runners you could ever imagine standing in the downpour ready to run, a full Police squadron prepared to lead them. That was the scene in Cleveland this morning. If I hadn’t witnessed it with my own eyes, I never would have believed it.
With lights flashing and sirens blaring, we took off down the highway with a full fleet of officers escorting our group. The pulse was electric, the weather scarcely dampening spirits. If anything, the tough conditions brought people together.
In the group today were a dozen first-time marathoners, along with a handful of ultramarathoners, and just about everything in between. There were runners young and old, male and female, different races, and different religions. A marathon is a race where everyone starts as an equal, and everyone finishes as a winner.
As we ran in the cold and miserable conditions, the stories came pouring out. There was a gentleman running his first marathon in 24 years. There was a runner from Canada who had driven all night to be here. There was a cancer survivor running in honor of the friend she had made in the hospital. They had vowed to run together when they got out, but her friend tragically never made it.
We also had a couple of firsts. There were a set of identical twins running today, and there was a grandmother running with her granddaughter.
As the run went on, the weather got progressively worse. The forecast was for clearing skies in the afternoon, but as we entered a footpath paralleling the lake, the wind whipped and the rain amplified. The group banded together, putting down our heads and forging numbly into the cold. It was rough going, uncomfortable and unpleasant. The suffering was undeniable; there was no escape from the brutal environment.
But the harsh conditions seemed to bring the group closer. We were pulling for each other, offeringwords of encouragement and positive affirmations to those in pain. The support and camaraderie amongst the group was unbelievable.
Luckily an office building near the finish offered to let us set up inside. I was there for three hours, talking to the other runners, signing books and finishers’ certificates, taking photos, and sharing some laughs. Eventually, after everyone had cleared, we packed things up and prepared to head off to the next marathon. Today is a day that will be etched in my memory for years to come.
There was a Chinese takeout on the corner as we walked back to the bus. I had a major deja vu as we passed. The flashback was of a saying I once got inside a fortune cookie: He who suffers remembers.
Today I lived those words.
Hey ho, way to go Ohio!
The hills were alive today, with the sound of footsteps. The Stowe Marathon runs right past the Trapp Family Lodge, high atop a pastoral crest overlooking Stowe Village and the adjacent Worcester Range. It’s a glimpse of the Austria right here in Vermont.
Of course, reaching the Trapp Family Lodge also signifies you’ve hit the crest of a very tough uphill climb. In fact, the ascent from mile 9 to mile 11 along the course was the steepest of any of the marathons thus far. Not that the other runners around me were complaining. This was a rugged group, and scarcely a grunt was heard (except mine) as we plodded upward.
The runners today hailed from Florida, California, New Jersey, Canada, and many of the neighboring New England states. We had several first-time marathoners in the group, one being a 17 year old who only recently took up running, along with many seasoned marathoners and ultramarathoners, some of the most accomplished in the group being the ladies (you go girls!). My friend from California was celebrating his birthday with this marathon (I couldn’t think of a better way to honor this day). Joining me for their sixth consecutive marathon were my “maniac” friends who started this journey togetherback in Connecticut.
Vermont is such a lovely place, and the Stowe Marathon course highlighted some of the most scenic places in the state, such as Lake Mansfield, Waterbury Creek, and the state’s highest peak, Mount Mansfield. At mile twenty the course passes through the town of Stowe and enters a popular footpath for the final stretch. There were people yelling and cheering throughout town, and one of the local coffee shops handed me a sack of freshly made chocolate covered espresso beans as we ran by.
The finish was alongside a rustling creek with one of Vermont’s historic covered bridges in thebackground. The runners came across steadily, and we vociferously welcomed each new arrival. A refreshing breeze ruffled the foliage and swirled golden autumn leaves across the neighboring meadow. All of the runners came in, and the first-time marathoners were extraordinarily solid.
I got to chasing Alexandria and Nicholas around, and we played some touch football with the guys fromthe Endurance 50 team, all of whom are remarkably gifted athletes. I always tell Nicholas to watch them closely, because dad will never throw a football like that.
In the middle of a particularly long play, some cheering erupted from the finish, and there coming around the final corner were the maniac’s, well ahead of their scheduled pace and looking fresh as could be. As tradition has it, Bekkie always cartwheels through the finish line…at least she has on the past five marathons. Would she have enough energy left to do it one last time? All eyes were focused on the pair, and away she went, flawlessly executing her final victory twirl. For this final act of bravado, I brokeout the chocolate covered espresso beans in celebration.
I’m leaving New England feeling charged, and ready to run another day. The fond memories of the country and the people will carry me far…
Always the best,
Dean & Family
Okay, let me just come right out and say it: Grandma, I’m sorry for ever questioning the virtues of a home cooked meal. When we arrived at our accommodations in Bristol last night, the entire city had already closed for the evening. I was exhausted, sore, and feeling sick, and it looked like it was going to be another cold meal on the bus.
But when we met the innkeepers, they offered to open their restaurant for us, which was an incredibly hospitable thing to do since they are normally closed on Tuesday nights. When the food arrived, it was absolutely magnificent. Fresh grilled vegetables, an amazing garden salad, and a juicy cut of meat. It filled the stomach, and warmed the soul. Remarkably, when I woke up this morning, my cold was all but gone! I’ll never doubt the wisdom of my Grandmother again.
I’d been told that the New Hampshire course was beautiful, and I was glad to be feeling better so that Icould enjoy it. Because we were only able to secure five permits, the field today was more intimate. We had the marathoning couple, now on marathon number five of six, and an ultrarunner in the mix. We set off in some light drizzle, but the rain tapered very quickly.
The course was all it was built up to be, and more. The setting was bucolic; we ran past rustic old barns, through charming little townships, along numerous rivers, all the while circumnavigating Newfound Lake.There were definitely hills involved, plenty of them. It was a challenging course, but the hills made the landscape all the more spectacular. Newfound Lake is one of the cleanest in the country, and the mirror glass water was crystal clear.
At several points along the course, we were greeted by the 4th grade class of Towle School. They had been following the Endurance 50 as a lesson plan, and had planned this field trip to experience the event firsthand. The students had made a number of signs and banners, and I’d love to share with you what some of them said:
Endurance is faith and spirit!
Endurance is pushing your limits!
Endurance is trying your best and never giving up!
Trust your family
Express your feelings
Roses are red, violets are blue, Dean is running, and so can you!
And my favorite Karno Kids saying: “NO CHILD LEFT INSIDE”
One of the girls had baked some homemade brownies for me. “Those look great,” I thanked her. “And guess what, Mr. Dean,” she said, “they’re 100% natural.”
All of the runners today were awesome. Everyone crossed the finish line looking strong, and one of theguys even set a PR, which was remarkable given the difficulty of the course. We exchanged some handshakes and hugs, snapped some pictures, and marveled at what a lovely day it had become. I bid farewell to the other runners and kids, and boarded the bus for Vermont feeling renewed and reinvigorated. It’s amazing what some home cooked food and some laughs among newfound friends can do for the soul.
During the past 30 days, there have been good mornings, and there have been not so good mornings. Today was not one of the good mornings. This nagging head cold of mine evolved into full body aches this morning for some reason. Thirty marathons hasn’t left me all that sore, but a measly little virus wreaked havoc on my muscle and joints in less than 24-hours.
On top of not feeling great, we had another blood draw this morning. So by the time I got to the starting line (and we got lost on the way to boot), I was somewhat of a mess. There was a hole in my arm, anda dull pain in just about every bone in my body. It’s not the way you want to greet 23 spirited runners and embark on a marathon.
But once we got going and started to talking, I almost immediately began to feel better. Instead of dwelling on my ailments, I immersed myself in the stories the other runners had to share. There were many familiar faces in the group today, too. A team of two great guys who had run with me the past three marathons were there. Another who had run with me in Boston was running with us again today. And a wonderful couple who are running sixconsecutive marathons with me (this was number four) was bright and cheery. There was a Brazilian runner in the group, and a number of few first-time marathoners, one a high school cross-country runner that wasn’t sure if he was going to go the entire distance.
The course was challenging, but scenic. We ran through the hills of Maine, the fall colors in full blaze, along the Atlantic seafront, through quaint little towns, and past lush green meadows that stretched merrily beyond view. The day started out sunny, but as things progressed the skies clouded in advance of a weather system that’s sweeping across the eastern seaboard.
Support along the course today was superb. It seemed like we had people cheering and offering food and water around every corner. We hung together as group for most of the first half, then spread out a bit for the trip back home. It might have been just me, but the return journey seemed rough. The hills seemed steeper, and the flat sections seemed deceptively short lived. The entire group toughed it out though, and the first-time marathoners held remarkably strong, including the high schooler who ended up running the whole 26.2 miles.
When we arrived at the finish line, the street was lined with applauding supporters. In the crowd was theentire class of Whitefield Elementary School, who had ridden in a bus for two hours to get here. It was a great reception for a group of runners that had worked extremely hard to cross that finish line.
This was perhaps the most challenging marathon thus far. It wasn’t due to the course or the weather, but to the way I felt. What got me through it? That’s easy, the inspiration of all the terrific kindred spirits that carried me along today in their footsteps. The credit belongs to the other runners; I was just along for the ride, and loving every moment of it.
The nasty cold front that’s heading our way tonight is no match for the warm smiles I left today in Maine. Rain, bring it on! After what I witnessed today, I feel ready for just about anything.
Always the best,
Rhode Island is known as the “Ocean State,” and the Breakers Marathon takes place entirely onAquidneck Island. The weather today was absolutely flawless, so the views along the course were stunning. We ran along the beachfront, the shimmering Atlantic providing a picturesque backdrop, through quaint backcountry roads bathed in fall colors, by beautifully manicured ranches and lazily flowing brooks, past the majestic Gardiner Pond, and through the Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge. Although Rhode Island is the smallest state in the union, its marathon is one of the prettiest.
The group today was diverse. We had a college student from Yale running with her father, a handful offirst-time marathoners, a couple celebrating their 13th wedding anniversary with this marathon (and he was one of the first-timers!), a runner finishing the last of four consecutive marathons with me, several who would be running the next marathon tomorrow with me, a couple that would be running all the New England states with me, a cancer survivor, an ex-smoker, an ex-drinker, and a real estate developer who recently quit his job to become an environmentalist. The Race Directors also ran with us, and one of them, Don Allison, publisher of Ultra Running magazine, clicked off running the entire marathon.
We stuck together as a group for most of the first twenty miles. The roads were quiet, so traffic wasn’tmuch of a concern. The support vehicle was right by our side most of the way, and along with handing out food and liquid, they had rigged up stereo speakers to the roof rack and were blasting the tunes as we ran. It was a pretty cool setup.
The finish was on the Gaudet Middle School track (two laps; the first in lane #4, and the second on the inside lane). We hung around the infield of the track cheering on the other runners as they came in, and playing football with my son, Nicholas. The first-time marathoners were just amazing, smiling from ear-to-ear as they crossed the line. Incredibly, all of them made it to the finish today, except one.
He was a determined guy, a jet pilot with formidable resolve. He’d mentioned knee pain at mile 15, “It might take me some time,” he said, “But I will make it.” I didn’t doubt him.
But now I was starting to. He wasn’t that far behind, what could have happened? Then I heard some gasps from the crowd, followed by loud applause. His knee was indeed problematic, to the point that he couldn’t run any longer. Coincidentally, another runner happened to be driving by and spotted him on the side of the road. The offer of a ride was declined, but the offer of a potential remedy was accepted. The other runner used Duct Tape to create a temporary knee brace. With his knee “duct taped” intoposition, our runner managed to cover the last several miles!
I think Nietzsche said it best, “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.”
Inspired every day, and still putting one foot in front of the other,
Boston was totally nuts, in a good sort of way. It reminded me a lot of a Greek holiday party, nonstopcommotion. So I felt right at home. The group swelled from 50 to over 100 at a point, with people jumping in left and right to join the entourage. It was an incredible experience; never in my wildest dreams could I ever have imagined such a day.
Runners had flown in from Texas, California, Florida, Canada, and Israel. There were a number of first-time marathoners, and one runner was celebrating her 100th marathon today! A large crowd had gathered at the start, and with a boisterous countdown we headed down the road, fall colors in full blaze on both sides.
The Boston Marathon is traditionally held in the spring, and running the course in the fall with the leaves changing was absolutely spectacular. A number of runners said this was their “prettiest” Boston ever.People lined the road cheering as we passed, some even went so far as to setup little aid stations with food and water for the runners.
At the halfway point, we were met by the Wellesley College womens’ cross-country team who joined us to the finish. Other runners met up at different points along the route, some ran for a few miles, others went all the way to the finish. We chatted, shared some battle tales and some laughs, ate and drank a lot, and generally carried on like a roaming party was in progress. Even Heartbreak Hill couldn’t bring us down. I’d run the Boston Marathon last year and it was great, but I have to admit that I had more fun this time.
As we rounded the final corner and headed toward the finish at Copley Square, I couldn’t believe the size of the crowd that had gathered! There were people waving signs, television cameras, kidsscreaming, police sirens blaring, and cheering spectators lining the road. We ran across the finish as a team, at least as best we could given the sheer number of runners. It was a magnificent conclusion to a historic fall Boston Marathon, and I was so thankful to share this moment with such a terrific group of people.
We adjourned to City Sports for a post-race gathering. The other runners seemed to share mysentiment that this was an amazing day. On top of it all, six first-timers crossed the finish line, and a number of people set personal records. As we were preparing to go, my son Nicholas said, “Look at what they gave me dad!”
The manager of City Sports had given him a new football. Not being one to turn down a game of catch with Nicholas, we headed out to the parking lot and let it fly. It would have been good to stretch for a while, but this was much better.
All the best from Bean Town,
This was a “live” event today, so I ran at my own pace. Talked to a lot of great runners along the way, and exchanged many high-fives. At the finish of the “live” marathons we have a booth set up, so I got to meet and mingle with a whole bunch of terrific folks.
Many of you have asked how I’m holding up thus far. Chris Carmichael has been keeping close watch on my progress, and his man Jason Koop of Carmichael Training System is traveling with me and monitoring my physical and mental condition. If you’d like to read Koop’s assessment, click here.
Off to Boston,
Somewhere, silently in the night, we crossed the border into West Virginia, the “Mountain Mama” state. Though I’d never visited before, I was anticipating a place where historic country roads wind throughtree covered peaks in gentle synchronicity. What I found was a beautiful mixture of parks and townships, along with the start and finish at Marshall University, where Matthew McConaughey just finished filming his upcoming movie, “We are Marshall,” about the tragic loss of the school’s football team in a plane crash.
We were given some great news at the start of the marathon, Governor Joe Manchin signed a proclamation declaring this day, October 13th,“Move Your Feet Day” in West Virginia, to promote healthy, active living within the state. It was tremendously gratifying to know that we’re having such an impact across this country, changing lives one step at a time. So with today being officially declared “Move Your Feet Day,” my daughter and son gave the starting countdown, and we runners began moving our feet.
The athletes today had come from far and near. One had driven through the night from Michigan, and this was to be the first of four marathons she was running with me. A soccer coach had driven five hours this morning to run his first ever marathon today. A college student had skipped class to attempt his first marathon. Several Ironman triathletes were in the group, along with a very dedicated teacher.
At mile nine, the course entered the enchanting Ritter Park. We were greeted by other runners, along with many walkers and well-wisher. At the halfway point, a large group of office workers had. congregated with a sign that read “Go Dean!” They did the wave as we ran by, cheering and yelling encouragement to the group.
We worked well together as a team today, and held tightly as a group for most of the way. The Police support was incredible, the motorcycle officers pointing out potholes in the road and other obstacles to watch for. At mile 26 we entered the Marshall University campus and were greeted by the basketball coach and his boys who ran the final stretch with us. The finish is at the southern goal line of the school’s 40,000-seat football stadium. We entered the arena to the cheers of the crowd and crossed the line hand-in-hand.
After congratulating the other runners, the Associate Athletic Director of the University presented me we a signed football and an official Marshall University football jersey. The number on the jersey was 27, to correspond with the marathon today, and the name on the back was, “KARNAZES.” It was a touching moment, and one that my family and I will remember forever. We feel like we now have a home in West Virginia.
As we were preparing to depart, the soccer coach, who just completed his first marathon, handed me a note. It was a quote from a young player of his. She wrote:
“You find you are made of bits and pieces of all who ever touched your life, and you are more because of it, and you would be less if they had not touched you.”
Country roads, take me home,
Dean & Family
This morning was a rough one. The drive from Louisiana last night was arduous, and what sleep I did get was restless. It wasn’t easy prying myself up at sunrise to go run a marathon. But upon seeing the other runners standing on the street corner at the start of the course raring to go, my spirits lifted immediately.
A cold front had swept through the middle of the country last night, and temperatures this morning were cool, a welcomed relief from yesterday’s heat and humidity. We snapped a couple pictures at thestarting line, and things got underway. Although Huntsville is surprisingly hilly (I had thought all of Alabama was essentially flat), the marathon course follows a route that is relatively level. We passed through some historic, tree-lined neighborhoods in the cool of the morning air.
The group was a diverse one. There were experienced ultramarathoners, first-time marathoners, college students, coaches, triathletes, school teachers, and business owners, all with one thing in common, a shared passion for running. Because the course crossed several major intersections, the group really worked hard at staying together so that the Police could get us all through. For some it meant holding back their pace, and for others it meant pushing as hard as they could. Everyone was terrific in working together as a team to keep within close enough proximity so that the roaming road closures didn’t hold up traffic.
Runners today had come from Georgia, Texas, Atlanta, Mississippi, and Tennessee. A college student had driven half the night from Georgia with his girlfriend to be at the start. One of the teachers I spoke with had her entire 5th grade class following the Endurance 50, and they were so excited that their own teacher got to be a part of it!
After we crossed the finish line and exchanged hugs and high-fives, a very distinguished gentlemancame over to me and said, “Thank you for the most memorable marathon my career.” I said, “You’re welcome,” and asked him how many marathons he has run: “Over two hundred.”
Wow! My first reaction was to bow to him in admiration. Instead, I said, “Thank you for the most memorable 26 days of my life.”
It’s another long drive tonight, and it won’t be too fun. But at least now I know what Lynyrd Skynyrd meant when he wrote, “Sweet home Alabama...”
The running scene in Baton Rouge is alive and well, I can attest to that firsthand. Standing at the starting line this morning were a group of energetic, enthusiastic athletes. There were also somefamiliar faces, a runner who had run with me yesterday, and another who had run with me the past two days. We also had our youngest runners today, two twelve year olds. One was planning on running eight miles before school, the other had his sites on completing the entire marathon!
We started off in the relatively cool morning air. The course is a loop around the LSU Lakes and the water is within site nearly the entire distance, so it was really pretty. As the day wore on, temperatures began creeping upward. There was a refreshing breeze coming off the water every once in a while, but there were also plenty of pockets of heat and humidity with little airflow. This, however, was a group of survivors, dedicated to giving it their all. And that they did.
Because the course was a loop without major traffic concerns, the group got fairly spread out. Some ran faster, some ran more conservatively, and some just toughed it out as best they could. However they got the job done, I was awed and inspired by their effort. We had a number of first time marathoners cross the line, and all were smiling big-time! The repeat runner finished strong, despite some nagging knee issues, and the three-timer finished looking solid and composed, despite getting less than three hours of sleep last night (the drive from Texas was brutal).
The finishers sat around in the shade at the finish line, cheering in the other runners. And it was one loud cheer when out of the distance appeared the twelve year old marathoner. He had made it, and he ran right through the finish line and kept on going!
Running a marathon is challenging enough, but to layer on top of that such heat and humidity makes the accomplishment all the more grand. The runners today displayed a resilience that is admirable, and they were supportive and considerate, even as the going got tough. My deepest gratitude goes out to each and every one of them, not just for getting me through it, but for inspiring me every step of the way.
Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up.
From the long road to Alabama,
Everything in Texas is BIG, and today was true to form. We had the BIGGEST number of participants,the BIGGEST waiting list, the BIGGEST storm, the BIGGEST number of first-time marathoners, the BIGGEST number of volunteers, and the BIGGEST rifle in the back of a pickup truck I’ve ever seen.
The start was a little precarious. Rain was already coming down pretty strong, and it took the Dallas Police longer than anticipated to get traffic under control. We runners stood around shivering in the dark, getting drenched. When the starting countdown finally got underway, the rumble of thunder sounded the gun.
It was the first storm of the season and the rain came down in buckets, flooding the streets and washing out intersections. Lighting flashed in the sky, and the crack of thunder filled the air. Navigating around the pools of water was nearly impossible, so eventually everyone just stopped trying and ran right through the middle. It was a disconcerting start to the day.
But the runners didn’t mind, and all that I talked to said they preferred the rain to the Texas sun. Along with the locals, in the group today were runners from Mexico, Honduras, Canada, and Turkey (Texas, that is, population 407…and growing! he reminded me). This was our largest group ever. Originally our permit only allowed 50 participants, but we had a waiting list twice that long, and after multiple tries we were eventually able to add an additional 25 slots.
To help support all of the runners, a dedicated posse of volunteers from Scottish Rite Hospital for Children worked their magic. They had aid-stations strategically setup along the course and were handing out fistfuls of food, water, and encouragement. They were nothing but smiles and delight, despite the rain.
The course ran through some of the prettiest, tree-shrouded neighborhoods I had ever seen. At about mile ten we entered a frontage road around White Rock Lake. The rain began to subside, and the Dallas skyline became visible in the background. The stories I heard today could fill the pages of this blog for the next week, but I’ve only got a few more minutes of internet access before we lose reception. So I’ll just say that listening to the other runners today was another soul stirring experience.
Upon crossing the finish line as a group (and it was the BIGGEST finish line), and exchanging a hardyround of hugs and high-fives, the President of the White Rock Marathon presented me with a finishers Medal along with a bottle of TheraFul and a BIG bag of Vitamin C lozenges.
Yes, everything in Texas is BIG, but nothing is BIGGER than the people’s hearts.
So long for now Y’all,
This was the inaugural running of the Route 66 Marathon, and if our experience today is any indication of things to come, I’m sure it’s going to become a popular event. The course is scenic, much of itparalleling the Arkansas River, and has lots of variety, from running over three bridges, to running through the middle of the Riverwalk Crossing outdoor shopping plaza.
Before we started, I asked how many first time marathoners were in the group and was amazed at the number of hands that went up in the air. Several of them said they might not run the entire marathon and would just see how things went. I told them to hang with me in the back of the pack because the support vehicle always gets to that group first (i.e., we’d have food sooner). That’s my definition of running smart.
The gun went off, and away we went on a gorgeous Tulsa morning. Running with us today was a couple who’d flow in from New York city, it was her first marathon, a runner from California who’d just gotten off the redeye, a Chair from the Department of Political Science at the University of Oklahoma, who said he was going to try a half marathon, an Englishman who was running three of the fifty marathons with me, an Officer in the Canadian Air Force, a solider who’d just returned from active duty in Iraq, and survived a rocket attack while out on a training run, an elite marathoner who had recently survived cancer, an elite marathoner who was hoping to qualify for the Olympic trials in Chicago, and a hardy mix of enthusiastic runners and triathletes.
Support along the course today was excellent, both by our crew vehicle and by the Tulsa Police Department. There were lots of people cheering us on along the way, and one of the runners husband’s graciously surprised us by setting up little roaming aid stations at various locations.
True to what has become tradition during the marathon tour, we finished hand-in-hand, only this time the finish shoot wasn’t wide enough to accompany everyone in a line, so we formed one big undulating oval of sweaty, sticky, jubilant runners.
A couple things struck me about today’s group. One was the number of women participants (eleven, to be exact). They were so strong that I had to keep trying to rein them in or else they would have left me in the dust. The other was the number of first-time marathon finishers (eight to be exact). Those that intended on running their first marathon made it, those that were looking to see how things would go made it, and those who had no intention of running the entire marathon, like my friend from the University of Oklahoma, decided to go for it, and made it! I also learned, only at the finish, that the elite marathoner who had recently survived cancer was actually an elite runner of shorter distances, and this was her first marathon. And the scary thing is, she didn’t even look winded!
Waiting to cheer us in at the finish were the students of Bartlett Middle School. They had driven two hours in the school bus to get here, and had made up their own cheer for me, which they delivered inperfect tune. Their school was following the Endurance 50 as a lesson plan, and they showed me photo’s of the big poster board they had up in their classroom.
As we were packing up to head out, one of the runners approached me and thanked me for the remarkable experience he had today. He said that there are so many things in this world that divide people, but what we did today brought people together. Today we were untied, regardless of our race, creed or background.
All you seem to hear about in the news these days, he said, is the worst of human nature. Today, he said, I saw the best.
Still putting one foot in front of the other, and celebrating the best in human nature,
Old Town Albuquerque is a historic location, and a charming place to start and finish a marathon. People have asked if I’m able to see anything during the tour, or if we’re passing through too quickly? The great thing with all of the marathon courses is that they’re staged in some of the most historic and scenic parts of the city, so you essentially get to spend 26.2 miles viewing the sites.
Along with the local New Mexico runners, folks today had come in from Colorado, Utah, and California. There were four first-time marathoners in the group, one of which was just seventeen, and two who had not originally intended on running the entire distance. A number of runners had upcoming marathons they were preparing for, and ran a half-marathon training run with us. We had a Team in Training Coach with us today (Go Team!), and a runner celebrating her 40th birthday (her husband had sprung this trip and run on her as a surprise present).
We started off from Old Town to the cheers of the crowd. The early part of the course followed the road, and we had police escorts directing traffic and holding intersections closed as we ran through. Eventually the course entered a path that paralleled the Rio Grande, which we followed for a long stretch. After exiting the path, the course crossed over historic Route 66 (I guess we were getting our kicks in our own sort of way).
At the midway point, two of the half-marathoners decided to take a crack at the complete marathon and continued on with us. The birthday girl was only going to run the half, but when we got to the midpoint she decided to go 20 miles instead (and at the 20 mile mark, she decided to go the entire way).
Temperatures started to warm on the return loop, and the sun began peeking through the clouds. The group just kept powering along, running, talking, drinking and eating, seemingly impervious to the mounting warmth. We finished back in Old Town to an enthusiastic crowd gathered to welcome us in.
So many of the runners came up to me afterward and said this was their most enjoyable marathon ever. Many of them were seasoned veterans, and had run marathons all over the world. There’s something about this format (i.e., running a certified marathon course with a small group in a fun and relaxed setting) that holds a certain magic. I must say myself that while I’ve been enjoying the big “live” marathons on the weekends, I’m liking the recreated events much more. The spirit and bond developed between the runners is stronger, and the camaraderie is unsurpassed.
The other magical element is watching these first time marathoners coming in, and seeing the joy in their eyes. The entire group rallies behind them, and we all share in their elation and sense of triumphas they burst across the finish line. It’s incredibly inspiring to witness this and feel that you are a part of something bigger.
So I’d like to thank all the wonderful runners today for making me feel welcomed, and allowing me to be part of something bigger.
Heading down Route 66,
P.S. For those of you that have been asking about my cold, it’s still hanging on. Actually, I think it’s a new cold now. With all the different climates I’ve been in, and all the people I’ve met along the way, I’m sure I’ve been exposed to lots of bugs during the past 22 days. But I’m not going to let a head cold stop me. My body still feels solid, and I’m actually feeling stronger with each progressive day. I’ll continue using all the great remedies you’ve been passing my way, and hopefully I’ll shake this thing soon. But if not, I’ll still keep going to the best of my ability, albeit a bit nasally.
The St. George Marathon went well. The course was scenic, and the people were incredibly positive (and fast!). I met so many terrific men and women along the route, and I’d like to offer my heartfelt thanks to all of you for your words of encouragement and for your well-wishes. Thanks for lifting my spirits and keeping me going.
I’ll need to keep this posting brief as we have a big travel day ahead of us, and access to the web along the way will be limited. I ran a little faster today so that we could get going as soon as possible.
One thing I would like to do, however, is wish my wife’s Grandmother, Kathleen Luther, a Happy 94th Birthday! Best wishes to you Grandmother Luther from the road to Albuquerque. You go girl!
Dean, Julie, Alexandria & Nicholas, and the entire Endurance 50 Team
After running in triple digit temperatures yesterday, Valley of Fire was not exactly the most appealing destination for the next marathon. But names can be deceiving. Not only were temperatures cooler, Valley of Fire was an amazingly scenic place.
We were greeted at the start by a street lined with American flags. A very emotional Race Director had been out until two in the morning preparing things, and the start looked magnificent, with the flags blowing in the breeze and the red mountains framing the background. This was to be the last ever Valley of Fire Marathon, the Park Service could no longer support the event. True to the tradition of the race, we began with the singing of the Star-Spangled Banner. It was a memorable moment, a group of runners standing proudly on a road lined with flags, brilliant beams of sunlight shooting through the gleaming white clouds, about to depart on a run through one of America’s most scenic State Parks, for the last time.
We got underway, and the course was absolutely stunning. The route follows a lightly traveled two-lane road the entire time, passing by spectacular formations of sandstone that appeared to be on fire when reflecting the sun’s rays. At mile seven we spotted a Peregrine Falcon perched atop a rock spire, looking down upon us as we ran.
Joining the group today was my good friend from Canada, and Badwater veteran, Ferg Hawke. There was a runner who had run with me yesterday in Arizona. A Priest. One fit Army Ranger. There werethree first-time marathoners among the group. Two of the runners in the group were planning on running the Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon in San Jose on Sunday, one of which had driven all night to get to the run today, and was running another marathon tomorrow on his way to San Jose! There were a couple of Ironman triathletes, a couple of Ironwomen Mom’s, and one proud Grandmother.
At mile 23 we were met by a local high school cross-country team who ran the last few miles with us, and at mile 25 we were joined by 100 5th graders from Grant Bowler School and J. Fuller School who ran with us to the finish. It was just amazing to be running down this beautiful road through the Valley of Fire with all these kids running alongside us. The collective rumbling of our footsteps sounded like a herd of stampeding buffalo, and the crowd waiting at the finish said they could hear us coming around the corner before they could see us.
There were so many amazing moments today: running with all the kids, hearing the stories of the other runners, immersing in the natural beauty of the surroundings. One of the most moving moments came when the Army Ranger walked up to get his finishers Medal. He had removed the Badge he’d received from his tour of duty, “Here,” he said, placing it in my hand, “I want you to have this.” I am forever grateful to our servicemen and women for protecting the freedom and liberty of people around the world so that events like the Endurance 50 can be possible, and his warm gesture filled my heart with pride.
As we were packing up and preparing to depart, the Race Director came up to me with a beaming smile. After witnessing all the positive energy and camaraderie that took place today, the Park Service said that they might be able to work something out to keep the race going. It was the best news ever. If we runners can have an impact like this, let us never stop.
Long live the Valley of Fire Marathon!
All the best,
The Desert Classic was just that, classic desert. Just when I was hoping for a reprieve from the heatafter Hawaii, Arizona bumped it up a notch. Temperatures were in the mid-90’s, and hit triple digits at several points along the way. The air was bone dry, with a tailwind on the way out, and a headwind on the return. Perfect conditions for sitting in a pool all day. Not so great for running.
But 46 of us did just that, we ran. We band together, put our heads down, and ran. And oh was itglorious. The desert dished out everything it could; heat, wind, scorching asphalt, but nothing could break our collective spirit. The tenacity and grit displayed by the runners today was unbelievable. Conditions became downright savage, yet the group remained steadfast and resolute, seemingly impervious to the hostile elements beating down upon us. Sweat dripped from every pour, but we didn’t stop. Even as the wind whipped in our face and tried to tear us down, we wouldn’t give up.
Anyone who had the courage to stand on that starting line this morning is a hero in my eyes. These were some of the most foreboding running conditions imaginable, and every single person out there gave it their best. Even for the most seasoned of veterans, this marathon was a definitive test of perseverance and resolve, yet, astonishingly, five first-time marathoners managed to complete the endeavor. How they made it to the finish line is a testament to the power of the human spirit.
Over the course of the run, the support crew doled out 90 gallons of liquid, and burned through 80 pounds of ice to keep us going. The conversations along the road were once again just amazing. Stories of loss and renewal, struggle and triumph. Stories that brought tears to my eyes, and stories that filled my heart with optimism and hope. So many people came up to me at the finish line and thanked me for making it all possible. I gracefully accepted these offers of appreciation, but knew in my heart that it wasn’t me who made it all possible, it was you.
I boarded the bus for marathon #20 a little sunburned, and a lot inspired. Thank you to 46 terrific runners for making it all possible.
From the winding road to Nevada,
Hawaii was the most difficult marathon thus far. The morning started off in a painful sort of way, with a blood draw. We’re conducting an investigative research study to examine the physiological impact of intensive and prolonged endurance activities. I’m happy to make a contribution to this scientific body of knowledge, though giving blood before running a marathon is rough.
But meeting the eight other runners at the starting line was uplifting. They were a solid and dynamic bunch. Even so, there was less celebration at the starting line than usual, as though we all new this was going to be a challenging day. And that it was.
Temperatures warmed quickly, the tropical sun radiating through the clouds, thickening the humid air around us as we ran. Although the course paralleled the water, the road was busy and you needed to remain focused on the traffic ahead. Only with a cautious glace could you take in the beauty of the setting.
The runners hung tough. In the group today were some amazing stories. Two had flown in from California, another from Colorado, one had come all the way from Italy, and this was his first marathon, there was a Fireman in the group who had his three boys along in a support vehicle, and one incredible runner who had flown in from Japan (and that’s only part of the story). He had rearranged his wedding plans to correspond with today’s marathon, exchanging vows on Maui yesterday, and running with us today.
We kept up a steady pace, and by mile 20 it hurt. The pavement was scorching and every step took its toll. I can’t say enough about the strength of the group today. These guys were solid to the core, each holding strong despite the demanding conditions. At mile 21 we came across my friend Chris Lieto, who was in Maui training for the upcoming Hawaii Ironman. Talking with Chris, who was on a training ride, put some life back into me. Chris looked great, and is a top contender this year. It was really cool for him to ride alongside the group for a while, and we’ll all be pulling for him in Kona.
After passing through Lahaina at mile 24, the gravitational pull of the finish line started reeling us in. The excitement and momentum built as we made the final turn and saw the finishing tape stretched out before for us. It had been a hard fought battle, and crossing the line together was an incredibly rewarding feeling.
Waiting at the finish were friends and family members of the group, and a new bride. She was so proud of her husband and his accomplishment that she broke down in tears. Hugs and handshakes were exchanged, and despite my haggard state, I was smiling from cheek-to-cheek. My legs hurt, my feet hurt, my arm where the needle had been stuck throbbed. The upcoming plane ride to Arizona was not going to be fun, but at the moment, that was the last thing on my mind. For now, I felt nothing but joy.
Maui no ka oi (Maui is the best),
They say home is where the heart is, and being back in my hometown for the day was wonderful.Showing up at the starting line and seeing 50 smiling faces was about the best homecoming I could ever ask for. There were many friends, acquaintances, and familiar faces in the group, and the energy level was phenomenal.
We started off on our way along the Embarcadero to the well-wishes from the crowd and from the other runners passing by on their morning workout. Crossing into Fisherman’s Wharf, the smells of fresh baked bread and seafood filled the air. As we ran past a gentleman standing on the street corner, he asked, “What’s this was all about?” One of the runners answered, “Life.”
Yes, today was going to be a good one.
As far as marathons go, San Francisco is not the easiest. There are hills, plenty of them. But the group today seemed used to hills. We climbed up the road leading to the Golden Gate Bridge at a steady clip, everyone looking undeterred by the steep ascent and warming temperatures. Running across the Golden Gate always holds a special magic to me, and today was the most memorable crossing ever, and it will remain the most memorable for the rest of my life. On the north side of the bridge, I met my dear friend and longtime training partner, David Ames. David was always way out in front of me when weused to run together, and today was no exception. The only difference today is that he was just an arm’s distance ahead. You see, David has Lou Gehrig's disease and is now confined to a wheelchair. I had the honor and privilege of once again running with my friend David, only this time I was pushing him. With the sun sparkling on the bay, and the glistening blue Pacific off to the other side, we made the return loop back across the Golden Gate, together (and doggone it, he was still out in front of me).
After bidding farewell to David on the south side of the bridge, the course drops down to Baker Beach, heads south across Geary Blvd, and then enters Golden Gate Park. In our group today was a runner from New Zealand, a runner from the Philippines, a runner from NYC (who didn’t get in on the lottery to the NYC Marathon, so decided to fly out to join us), a runner running her 17th marathon on this 17th marathon of the 50, a former student of my mom’s 7th grade class, and California State Senator Tom Torlakson.
Access to our support vehicle was good along the course today, so we spent plenty of time eating and drinking as we ran. The weather was flawless; little puffy clouds accented the sapphire sky above, and the breeze was just enough to keep the air refreshing, but not enough to be a burden to run against.
The main group hung together fairly tightly at a pace that was brisk. A couple other groups went at a more relaxed pace, which was absolutely fine. It seemed like every corner we turned, the group from ‘Girls on the Run’ was there cheering us on and offering support. We passed through the Haight, crossed into the Mission district, wound down behind the Pac Bell Park, and finished along the waterfront on the Embarcadero.
Several of the other groups came in behind, and everyone applauded their arrivals. Some folks just wanted to finish no matter how much time it took, some folks had no intention of running the full marathon, but decided midway to go for it, and some folks just wanted to spend a little extra time taking in the sites along the way. Either way, it all seemed to work out, and I, for one, had a blast. Judging from the hugs and high-fives amongst the group, I think others did as well.
There were six first-time marathoners who crossed the line, and a number of PR’s. One gentleman who had run the SF Marathon in July shaved nearly half an hour off his time!
At the finish, I was presented with a $2,620 donation to Karno Kids by Fleet Feet Stockton (I’m not very good at math, but I think that works out to a hundred dollars per mile for the marathon). Overall, through our running, we’ve raised close to $50,000 for kids outdoor activity programs!
I signed some books for the group, handed out some water, swapped some email addresses, had a couple great laughs together, and reminisced about the good times we had just shared. Sure, it’s about running. But mostly, as the runner in our group had said to the gentleman standing on the street corner in Fisherman’s Wharf, it’s about life.
Wishing you my best from the City by the Bay,
Today’s forecast was for snow and sleet. It had been raining for the past week, and the prediction was for more of the same. As much as I love Alaska, it wasn’t easy crawling out of bed this morning.
We were met at the start by the Mayor of Anchorage, Mr. Mark Begich. Unbeknownst to me, he had an incredible surprise in store. Mayor Begich began a presentation in which he highlighted my commitment to the environmental and unwavering advocacy for youth fitness. I was touched by his warm sentiments. But then it got better, he proceeded to presented me with a Proclamation officially declaring October 2, 2006, as “DEAN KARNAZES DAY” in Anchorage.
Wow, I could hardly believe it. A day named after me, who would have ever imagined? I was trembling as he handed me the document and commemorative coin. I thanked Mayor Begich, and shook his hand (probably for way too long). Today was going to be a good run, no matter how bad the weather got.
But the weather never did get bad. Though it was cold, we were blessed by a day free of rain or snow. The only snow was on the mountains in the background, which made for a beautiful backdrop. Combine the snowy mountains with the changing colors of the leaves, and you have what has been aptly called, “One of the most spectacular marathons in the world.”
Yet every bit as spectacular as the course were the other runners. One had flown in from Mexico (Brad had previously run with me in Memphis, marathon #2), one had flown in from Colorado (his farthest run to date was 11 miles, and he was hoping to complete the half marathon), and another had flown down from Fairbanks. There were two doctors in the group, an Air Force pilot, and a host of really fast runners.
We saw moose along the run, forged several stream crossings, ran on trails, ran on roads, and ran on footpaths. The variety of terrain and scenery kept things fresh, even as the miles added up. We were joined along the way by a local high school track coach, and two of her students. One ran a couple miles with us, and the other ran the last six. He was just 15 years old, yet he had completed the Mayor’s Midnight Run marathon in June. To complete a marathon at that age is remarkable!
The finish was on the West High School track. We crossed the line hand-in-hand to the cheers of the crowd that had gathered to welcome us. Hugs and handshakes were exchanged, and each of the runners were presented with a finishers Medal by the Race Director. Then it occurred to me, standing amongst the group was the runner from Colorado. He hadn’t stopped at the half marathon! It was a tremendous effort by all, and we quickly reconvened at REI for a celebration (where they had cranked up the heater for us).
Today was magical. Not only did the weather cooperate unexpectedly for us, the runners remained steadfast and energetic throughout a very challenging marathon. These were true kindred spirits, and I couldn’t think of a better way to spend Dean Karnazes Day.
Thank you Major Begich, and thank you runners!
See you next year October 2nd for sure.
Portland is one of my favorite cities to run. Not only is it scenic, the mystique and lore of running inOregon is unparalleled. My childhood hero’s, Bowerman and Pre, hail from these parts, and I found myself lost in reminiscences walking to the start of the Portland Marathon.
The race itself went well. I met many terrific folks along the course. It’s a new experience for me to run 26.2 miles while talking to people the entire way, but I’m getting more adapt at breathing between sentences. Some people have asked if it’s distracting, or if it slows me down. Yes, it slows me down, but it’s not distracting. I’d rather spend an extra ten or fifteen minutes on the course answering peoples questions and sharing a laugh or two than not talking to others. To me, it’s the right thing to do, it's what's in my heart.
My time today was decent, and I felt composed crossing the finish line. 3:45 seems to be about the pace I can comfortably hold and still feel fully recovered the next morning. The plan moving forward is to run the “live” Sunday marathons at a more natural clip, around 3:45, and then go at the group pace during the recreated marathons, which tend to be a bit more relaxed. Again, the Endurance 50 is about inclusion and camaraderie amongst all participants. The aim is to unite individuals in a supportive environment, to connect and share the running spirit together as a team.
Temperature crept up during the latter parts of the race today, and there was plenty of suffering going on the last few miles. I passed one older gentleman that was clearly having a rough go of it. He was hunched over, drenched in sweat, and barely shuffling along. I felt so sorry for him and offered some brief words of encouragement. He responded with a muted reply, but I couldn’t quite understand him. “I’m sorry, Sir, I couldn’t hear what you said.” He repeated himself, and I still couldn’t catch his words, though it sounded like something about perspiration or something. I moved in closer, “Could you say that one more time?” I thought I might be annoying him. “You…are an inspiration,” he said to me.
I lost it. To have this brave soul—a person in tremendous pain, a person who was giving it his all and struggling his hardest to reach his goal of making it to the finish line—call me an inspiration was too much. I lost it, and tears rolled down my cheeks.
Dear Sir, whoever you are, it is you who is the inspiration.
As my Dad is fond of saying, “It’s not how many times you fall down that matters, it’s how many times you get back up.”
And today in Portland, I watched a man get back up.
Today was surreal. If someone had said to me a year ago that I’d be running the Seafair Marathon on a random Saturday with 48 other runners and police escorts blocking traffic to hold the course open for us, I would have said “no way.” But that’s exactly what happened today.
And beyond that, I had so many of the runners afterward thanking me, saying things like this was their most enjoyable run ever. Imagine that, people thanking me for running. I should be thanking them, and I hopefully I was able to adequately express my gratitude, because I am forever grateful to those 48 individuals for making today so special.
Not everyone had intentions of running the full marathon. Some ran a few miles, some ran a half-marathon, some did twenty, and a few who had originally said they were only going to do the half, ended up completing the entire marathon. There were three first-timers that finished the marathon today, and a number of folks that PR’ed. When you think about it, that’s absolutely remarkable. It’s been astonishing to watch people rise to the occasion during these runs and go farther and faster than ever before. It’s a phenomenon I can’t quite explain, so I’ve stopped trying to make sense of it. All I know is that it’s been about the most inspirational experience ever witnessing the things I’ve seen people do over these past two weeks.
The runners today were spirited and determined; proudly, almost half were women. Initially I was concerned that 48 people would be able to hold together closely enough, especially given the fact that we were traversing some heavily trafficked roads. But it all worked out, and we ended up getting more car honks of encouragement than anything else.
The stories I heard today could fill this blog for the next year. One runner had lost 120 lbs. and had run seven marathons (this was his eighth). Another had a tradition of running one marathon a decade, but decided to run two when he learned about this event. A mother of four completed the marathon, and then ran, quite literally, to a child’s birthday party. My dear friend Topher Gaylord (who performed the wedding service before the first marathon) was represented by two of his brothers, one who had never run a marathon before, and his sister-in-law, and we all ran the marathon together. Then there was the college student who this morning at 5:00 AM got up the courage to sign up, and ended up completing the marathon.
Overall, this was the biggest event of the tour thus far. And if today is any indication, the running spirit is alive and well in the Pacific Northwest. My thanks to you all.
Sleepless in Seattle, and thoroughly enjoying every second of it,
P.S. Some pretty scary things are still coming out of my nose, but I think my cold’s on the mend.
I’m not overly suspicious, but the number 13 has a certain aura surrounding it. I woke up this morningthe sorest I’ve been since the beginning, hopeful that this was just a coincidence and not related to the 13th marathon. Then I did a radio interview in which the host asked how far my marathon would be today? When I responded that all marathons are 26.2 miles, he asked if today would be my longest. Weird.
But the second I walked outside and smelled the fresh Idaho air, I knew things would go well today, despite the oddities this morning and it being marathon #13. There were 18 terrific runners waiting at the start, one of which I had just met last night and she decided at three in the morning to join us. There was a runner from San Francisco that had flown out, a runner from New Mexico, and a runner that had traveled from Alabama to run with the group.
With a boisterous sendoff from the crowd, we headed off down Main Street through the central section of town. There was plenty of diversity in the crowd today, from some younger ultrarunners, to some seasoned marathon veterans, to a Minister who was running his first marathon. Our armed forces have been well represented throughout the Endurance 50, and today we had an esteemed member of the Special Forces running with us.
The course proceeded through some beautiful, tree-lined residential districts that shaded the road and helped keep temperatures lower. There was almost no wind whatsoever, so the air warmed quickly as the day wore on. We moved along at a comfortable pace, the group holding together through the halfway point, swapping stories and sharing laughs. At just past mile sixteen and at mile twenty, a couple neat things happened. The following commentary comes from an email the Race Director, Jeff Ulmer, sent to the Endurance 50 event manager, Jim Anderson (Jeff, I hope it’s okay to use this):
That was one of the coolest events I have been involved with… Two things that hit me during the Boise event.
1) It was the 13th race, we ran down 13th street, to one of my running groups favorite hangouts, Lucky13 Pizza. Everyone stopped running and stood by the Lucky 13 sign in their #13 bibs and Deans #13 singlet, and snapped a group photo, awesome!
2) Dean was high fiveing, shaking hands, and talking to kids along the course, but at mile twenty there was a group of Catholic school kids waiting for him who were on a field trip just to see him. They were all standing kind of in a half-circle awaiting his arrival. He ran over and got down on one knee so he was eye to eye with them and they immediately closed ranks around him and were slapping hands, reaching out just to touch him or pat him on the back. It was a wonderful moment, I looked over at my friend who was in my jeep with me, and her eyes were welled up, I asked her if she was making fun of me and she said no I was just checking to make sure you were seeing the same thing I was seeing. Yep my eyes were already teary. Very cool, very touching, and something I will always remember."
At the finish, my daughter and son were holding the ribbon across the line, and we runners ran through hand-in-hand, united as one. Jeff, my eyes were teary too. It was another remarkable moment that I feel blessed to have shared with a terrific group of uplifting and positive individuals. Running brought us together, and the spirit that we shared out on the road today—the highs, the lows, the struggles and the triumphs—formed a bond between us that will last forever.
Inspired in Idaho,
Let me start by saying how bizarre it was driving 26.2 miles out from Billings on a country road andcoming across a dozen of the fittest athletes imaginable gathered to run a marathon. The Montana Marathon is a point-to-point which starts at the small outpost of Molt and heads back to Billings. The weather was crystal clear and the sky was, as they say, big.
Today’s runners were fit. There were a couple of powerful looking firefighter’s, several triathletes, two ultrarunners, a pair of tough as nails (and funny as heck) Canadian’s, and an elementary school teacher running, which I only discovered after he finished, his first marathon.
The pace of the group was aggressive from the start, and even as temperatures rose during the latter parts of the run, the tempo didn’t slow. For my part, I basically hung on as the group pounded out the miles. It got pretty warm starting around mile 18, and it wasn’t easy keeping up. Luckily our support vehicle was nearby for the entire distance, and we burned through a ton of water and Cytomax.
At the last mile, the 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students of Central Heights Elementary School lined thepath. The teacher and coach, who was the one running the marathon with us, had made arrangements for the kids to join us for the last mile. They had been tracking the Endurance 50 as a lesson plan, and they all had on t-shirts with the typing on the back, “Endurance Is…” and they had each hand written their own definition. They ran the last mile to the finish with us, screaming and cheering the entire way.
People have asked me if this whole thing is becoming a blur? It’s not. In fact, I remember every minute of the past 12 days vividly. The dozen runners I spent some time with today are unforgettable. Their strength and power carried me through the run, and I will remember each and every one of them not just for their athletic prowess, but for their compassion and graciousness.
I read the backs of a lot of the kid’s shirts at the finish, and probably my favorite was a little girls that simply said, Endurance Is…Always trying your best.
From the land of Big Sky, trying my best,
Fargo Marathon, North Dakota
Number of Runners: 18
Weather: 55 degrees, overcast
Conditions today were absolutely perfect for running. I was greeted at the start by a very enthusiasticgroup outside the Fargodome. They had a lighted billboard welcoming me to Fargo, and I could tell right away it was going to be a lively run.
There were several first time marathoners, including an eighteen year old, and one 52 year old runner who was running his first marathon since 1980! One runner had driven down from Canada, another had worked all night and come to the starting line with no sleep. There were a couple of local running groups represented in the group, including: “Women High on Running.” We started off on our way and the banter began almost immediately. It was a fun way to ease into marathon #11.
Just after the five mile mark, we heard some loud cheering and up the road was a large group of school kids waiting for us to come through. They yelled and high-fived as we passed, and kept the cheering going until we disappeared well down the road.
The spirit in Fargo today was just terrific, and there were people along the course cheering and providing support almost the entire way. I know I’ve gone on and on about the stories I’m hearing out here, but it’s been the most heartwarming and inspirational experience I’ve ever had. Today was no exception, and I heard about overcoming illness, overcoming obesity, overcoming addiction, and overcoming fear.
The course was a mixture of residential streets and wide footpaths. We paralleled, and eventually crossed, the northern-flowing Red River which borders North Dakota and Minnesota. It was a scenic and flat course, so I was able to talk with the other runners much of the way while keeping up a steady pace.
When we reached the final stretch, they had opened the Fargodome to allow us to finish at the actual finish line inside the dome. There was a group assembled inside awaiting our arrival, and we covered the last hundred feet to the congratulatory cheers and hoots of the crowd.
To me, each finish festival has been become so memorable. I’ve met hundreds (maybe even thousands now) of great people, and I get to spend some time with the other runners taking pictures, signing books and t-shirts, and exchanging stories. This is the one area where the extensive training program Carmichael Training Systems put me through is yielding big results. Running the marathon is one challenge, but meeting with the press, doing interviews, talking, taking pictures, meeting kids and signing posters, is another marathon in its own right. I’ve been able to complete these marathons with enough energy reserve to thoroughly enjoy hanging around the finish for a couple hours and meeting people.
It was nice to be at lower elevation today. Although this was the coldest temperatures I’ve run in, the warm people of Fargo made up for that, and then some.
Today was the first trail run, and a great way to celebrate reaching double-digits with the number of marathons completed. I love trail running, and the tree-lined Mickelson Trail was absolutely stunning. We spotted white tail deer and wild turkeys along the way.
The first half of the course was challenging, climbing up to 6,100’ with a stiff headwind starting around mile seven. But the company was good, and we swapped stories as we ran. Amos (her real name is Amy, but her friends call her Amos) is an accomplished marathoner with a personal best of 3:30. But that only tells part of her story. She is a cancer survivor and didn’t run her first marathon until after surgery in 2003. Since then, she’s run nearly 50 marathons! And from our conversation, I gather she has no intention of stopping anytime soon.
We were met along the trail by a group of students from Spearfish Middle School. They crewed for us at several points, and later a few of them joined in and ran alongside for a stretch. The pace was strong throughout the marathon as we needed to get to the finish quickly so Amos could return to work that afternoon.
At the finish festival, the 4th and 5th grade classes from Deadwood Elementary School ran over fromschool to the event. They had a million questions, their energy and enthusiasm for the Endurance 50 blew me away. A couple of them asked if they could join me for the rest of the journey. I asked one little boy what his parents would think of that? He said, “My dad’s a runner, he’ll understand.”
With a smile on my face, we pulled out of town with kids lining the street waving and yelling goodbye. It was another great day to remember.
All the best,
P.S. To the many of you that have sent ideas and suggestions for getting over a cold, thank you. I really appreciate it, and am trying them all! Unfortunately the cold has spread into my ears, so it will be good to get down to lower elevations tomorrow to alleviate some of the pressure.
Under clear and cool conditions, we started down the road on the Casper Marathon to the cheers and hollers from the small crowd that had gathered to see us off. Today’s group was smaller, with not all runners intending to do the entire marathon. As we covered the first few miles, herds of antelope bounded through the fields and across the roadway ahead of us. With the deep blue sky above, and the miles of open expanse ahead, it seemed a fitting start to a marathon in Wyoming.
After winding through the hills for several miles, the course dropped down to the Platte River and followed a path along the water for much of the way. The mountain peaks in the background were still covered in snow from a storm that had passed through the area last weekend. Temperatures were cool with very low humidity.
The group today was strong, all of the runners being experienced marathoners or ultramarathoners. We moved a good clip, especially given the elevation. At the half, one of the runners, who had just run Boulder Backroads with me the day prior, peeled off. He looked good, but wanted to save his legs for another race.
The second half was flatter and we ended up running a slight negative split. The tempo was much fasterthan what I had envisioned, but the group seemed comfortable running at this pace, even as I gasped for air trying to keep up. When we got to the finish, the 4th grade class of the North Casper ElementarySchool was waiting for us cheering. After crossing the line with the marathoners, I circled back and did a dash to the finish with the kids, which they loved, but I think I loved even more.
The racers all received their finishers Medal, and we spent some time chatting and snapping photo’s. It was a great group, four of whom had driven from out of state to run today. The stories I’m hearing of overcoming adversity and perseverance continue to amaze me. Every runner has a story, and today in Casper I was reminded of how much strength and inspiration we can garner from learning about each others struggles and triumphs.
Keeping the spirit alive on the long road to South Dakota.
Boulder Backroads is a marathon that’s long been on my “to do” list, so I was looking forward to today’s run with great anticipation. I’ve been told it’s a very scenic course, and after experiencing Boulder Backroads firsthand, I couldn’t agree more. With the snow-covered Rockies off in the distance, the beauty and grandeur of the setting was spectacular.
Other than arriving a few minutes late to the start, the run itself went smoothly. Certainly the altitude was a factor, but the dry air helped clear out my sinuses. The support along the way was terrific, so I was able to drink frequently and remain hydrated. I ran with some super cool people, two of whom are driving to Wyoming tomorrow to run with me (and a third overheard our conversation and is also driving up to join us tomorrow!).
The biggest bummer with this particular marathon is that I couldn’t stick around longer at the finish. I really wanted to hang out and chat with people, but we needed to get back on the road for the drive to Casper. This definitely won’t be my last Boulder Backroads, so hopefully next time I’ll get to hang around longer.
A final note, thanks to you all for the well-wishes you’ve been sending my way. Many of you have asked about my cold. Unfortunately it’s still raging, but I’m trying not to let it set me back. Luckily I’m not a very fast runner, so that’ll help keep it from spreading to my chest. Yes, going slow has its advantages :-)
Best to you all from Interstate 25 heading north.
Lincoln Marathon, Nebraska
Number of Runners: 21
Weather: 64 degrees, partly cloudy
Last night was miserable. Not from the running, but from the cold I’ve come down with. Perhaps it comes as a result of the abrupt climate changes we’ve been running in over the past few days, or maybe I caught a bug during all the travel; either way, I was up half the night with a raging head cold.
It was difficult dragging myself to the starting line at 7:00 AM this morning, I really wasn’t sure how things would go today. That all changed when I met the other runners and got swept up by their energy. Originally I was told there would be 15 runners joining me in Lincoln, though upon departure from the start at the Nebraska University Coliseum, there were 21. Many had no intention of running the entire distance, they just wanted to come out and show their support while running a few miles. Others were dedicated to covering the full marathon distance. And boy did they!
Three of the group had never run a marathon before, two had run more than a hundred marathons, andone just ran the Lewis & Clark with me last weekend. Conditions were absolutely ideal as we progressed along what proved to be a very scenic course. By the 20 mile mark, however, we were all feeling the strain. I’m not sure how to define what happened next, but it is a phenomenon that’s been occurring during these marathons around the 20 mile mark. My best description of what happens at mile 20 is that the group collectively bans together as a single working entity. Everyone seems to feed off each others energy and a sense of renewal pervades, even among those that are struggling.
The last 6.2 miles were covered with guts and passion, and we crossed the finish line hand-in-hand as a team. The three first timers were just amazing throughout, and watching them finish brought tears to my eyes. Two of the group set marathon PR’s, and one of the seasoned veterans who was initially only going to run a half-marathon training run decided to go the entire distance.
The athletes I met today were so warm and cordial, each with a unique and remarkable story, and I enjoyed my run with them tremendously. There wasn’t always a bathroom in the right spot, food and beverage wasn’t at every mile mark, we had to stop for traffic periodically and share the path with bicyclist, yet I didn’t hear a single complaint from any of the runners. Literally not even the slightest hint of a gripe.
It was all positive, and that’s how I’ll remember the great people who shared some miles, and some kinship, with me today in Lincoln, Nebraska.
May you go far,
Des Moines Marathon, Iowa
Number of Runners: 35
Weather: 68 degrees, partly cloudy
The weather today was perfect for running, but the people were even better. The stories I’m hearing continue to astound me: A runner who flew down from Alaska to run the Des Moines Marathon with us, a surgeon who cleared his morning to run, and had patients starting at 3:00 PM (with a two-hour drive back to the office), a Pastor who leads a congregation of runners, and collectively probably more than 1,000 lbs shed between the group, including one runner who had lost 150 lbs!
At mile 10 the course does a lap around the famous Drake University track, and standing there to meet us were the Drake University Mascot and fifty elementary school students from nearby schools. The kidsran the lap around the track with us, cheering and high-fiving much of the way. I’ll never forget a quote from one little boy who I complemented on his swift pace, “Mr. Karnazes,” he said between pants, “I run like I mean it.”
Plenty of people lined the route and rooted us on as we passed through the streets of Des Moines. The pace today was way faster than predicted, but the entire group seemed to work well together, feeding off each others energy. We probably would have gone even faster had there not been such lively banter between us the entire 26.2 miles.
Remarkably, five first-time marathoners crossed the line! Not all came in at 4:06:33, but impressively they weren’t that far behind.
Upon crossing the finish line, we were met by the Major of Des Moines, Franklin Cownie, who presented me with a City of Des Moines Proclamation for hosting, “An event that will help transform Des Moines into a healthier, more pleasant community in which to live and work.”
If the thirty-five runners I met out there today are any indication, the community is well on its way. Keep running like you mean it!
All the best,