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Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  16,880 ratings  ·  1,265 reviews
In one of his most ambitious physical efforts to date, Dean Karnazes attempted to run 50 marathons, in 50 states, in 50 days to raise awareness of youth obesity and urge Americans of all fitness levels to "take that next step.""UltraMarathon Man: 50 Marathons - 50 States - 50 Days", a Journeyfilm documentary, follows Dean's incredible step-by-step journey across the countr ...more
Paperback, 295 pages
Published March 2nd 2006 by Tarcherperigee (first published 2005)
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Gonçalo Yes! If you like stories about crazy runs and people overcoming their limitations, this is a good book.

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Average rating 3.98  · 
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 ·  16,880 ratings  ·  1,265 reviews


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Sam
Dec 17, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone who thinks 26.2 miles is out of range
Recommended to Sam by: Gil Bradshaw
The closest I will ever get to an ultramarathon is reading this book. To better simulate the all night running experience described in this book I thought I would try a sort of ultramarathon reading style. So in the tradition of Dean Karnazes here are the confessions of an all night reader.

After a night at the local pool learned flip-turns from Anne we returned home to put the girls to bed. Instead of Scrabble or episodes of the West Wing (which are our surefire date-defaults) we decided to read
...more
Aaron
Mar 22, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Ug. Ego-stroking pap. The description of the Western States race is awesome, but sadly you have to read about him describing himself (hint: the word "ripped" is used 3 times) to get there. And then deal with the last 100 pages, all about a self-indulgent trip to the South Pole (look at me! I'm rich!).
Liz
Nov 23, 2011 rated it it was ok
I recently picked up running as a way to get in shape, and it's become a bit of a hobby. I thought I would enjoy Karnazes's book both because I appreciate people who push themselves to the limit and because, as a PhD student, I know what it's like to be entirely devoted to a dream. I was hoping to feel inspired and to meet a kindred spirit.

Not happening. Dean Karnazes is so into himself that it's difficult to get a glimpse of ultrarunning through him. His descriptions of his physical form are un
...more
Timothy Allen
Dec 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: runners
Ah, people hate Dean Karnazes... but ask yourself this: would you know who Scott Jurek was if you had never read Dean Karnazes? I wouldn't.

Dean's book sometimes sounds like he's spinning a yarn. It's pretty unbelievable at points. On the other hand, he does some unbelievable things. And he does most of what he does for charity.

In general, it's a very good read. It made me feel like going out running. And indirectly, I trained for and signed up for my first ultramarathon because I read this book
...more
N. Pfeifer
Jul 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
I didn't realize until after I'd read this book and given it a 4-star rating that people were dumping on it for his egotism. Honestly, having breezed right through this (it's not a difficult or lengthy read by any means) I kinda felt the opposite.

I've been reading a lot about running and marathons lately and Karnazes came up as an example of an extreme athlete. Reading up about him, he seemed to be some kind of invincible superman, but him spending most of the book explaining the hell-ish condi
...more
Rhiannon
May 19, 2013 rated it did not like it
I'm a runner, and although I have not done and probably never will do an ultramarathon, I know quite a few ultramarathoners and thought this book would give me a better idea of the sport. But, wow, this book is a piece of crap.

Rarely have I read something by an author so completely self-absorbed, self-worshiping, self-indulgent, and egotistical. He feigns modesty throughout the book, but its insincerity is crystal clear. Yes, Dean, I know that you're an amazing runner (although there are other u
...more
Phrynne
Jul 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is definitely not a book I would have chosen for myself. I read it because my son, who is a marathon runner, gave it to me to read and I was very impressed. I am not usually a great fan of the autobiography, but Dean Karnazes writes with humour and diffidence about his incredible achievements. Anyone who can do the things he has done is a hero - slightly crazy admittedly, but a hero. Well worth reading. ...more
Diane
Jun 26, 2007 rated it it was ok
About halfway through it becomes an ego-fest. Karnazes may be an ultradistance runner, but he's not the best and should stop acting that way. He's marketed himself as the posterboy for ultraendurance running and it starts to get weary in the book.
Mary
Feb 15, 2012 rated it did not like it
It's unfortunate that what could have been a really inspirational story about pushing oneself to the ultimate limit of physical endurance is overshadowed by the douchiness of the author. I wanted to be in awe and instead I was just annoyed. The constant false modesty was tiring and incredibly transparent. And I get that anyone who writes a memoir would want to shine themselves in a flattering light, so I understand Karnazes' decision to focus on races that he finished. But I think it would have ...more
Ramesh
Dec 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
After meeting Dean in person and hearing his own story in SF, I was really looking forward to finish this book. It was as if Dean himself telling this story to me. The book is indeed a great motivation and covers the transparent details of what all goes in an ultra runner's mind. Truly a wonderful journey..
Sushmitha Kanukurthi
May 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I just finished reading this book about 15 mins ago and I am not sure of where to begin! Ever since I took up running (about two years ago), I have come across many a book that have left me inspired and driven about pursuing this passion. But this book has done far more. While Dean Karnazes's super human feats are unique; what makes this book so amazing is his ability to infuse that passion in the readers. He makes the book easy to read, profound, awe inspiring and a testament to what the human ...more
Jeffrey
Nov 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
I first became aware of Dean Karnazes a few years ago shortly after moving back to New York. That was when he came into the spotlight for a lot of people, shortly after he won the Badwater Ultramarathon. In my small running circle, I spread word of his infamy, of the man who ordered pizza for delivery on his all night runs. How he would run a hundred miles just to get to the start of a marathon. How he ran a 200 mile relay race--by himself. Most of what I knew of him came from short articles in ...more
Chad Sayban
Sep 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
More reviews at The Story Within The Story

It started with a single fateful decision one night to just go out and run…and run…and run. This is the story of Dean Karnazes and his life as it unfolded after that night. A non-stop adventure in the heat of Death Valley, the bone-chilling cold of the South Pole, over mountains, through forests – all while running. Through hard work and breathtaking perseverance he achieved amazing athletic acts while balancing a family and career.


“Most dreams die a
...more
Jacques Bezuidenhout
It seems that the gripe that most people have with this book is that Dean comes across as very egotistic and arrogant.
Well my opinion is, give credit where credit is due.
This guy deserves every bit of his "well sculpted" / "chiselled" / "ripped", 4.5% body fat body.

Him mentioning occasionally that he was well built, is a drop in the bigger bucket of accomplishments / stories in the book.
Most of the book is about being with him in each of his races. And its awesome.

The Western States 100 mile was
...more
Kim
Sep 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. 36 weeks pregnant and I am ready to get up and run...maybe in two months or so, but I am inspired. I don't think I will ever become and ultramarathon runner, or even a marathon runner for that matter, but in a word with endless possibilities I am inspired to never be content with mediocrity. Like Robin William says in Dead Poets Society "Make your lives extraordinary."

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book:

"To call running 'fun' would be a misuse of the wo
...more
Caitlin Constantine
Feb 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
This was just a crazy fun book to read. Karnazes is seriously demented but I think he knows it, which is why it was so much fun. Also, as a distance runner - but not an insane one like Karnazes - I found it totally inspiring. It's too bad I'm currently nursing a running injury because it made me want to go and pound out a 10-miler the second I put it down.

I think what I liked best about the book was how self-deprecating Karnazes is about himself. He knows he's pretty much insane, he doesn't go f
...more
Lou
Apr 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Ultimately the author has laid down in words answers to why he runs, what compels him to do ultramarathon running, his desires and passions, all honestly written in easy reading nicely packet together narrative that can inspire and aid the one wanting to push themselves to their limits and beyond. Heartfelt testaments from a man who is truly someone pushing himself beyond human limitations.
He tells how he had a need to fill a void despite having a good job and financial security, and he takes th
...more
Matt Frazier
Aug 04, 2013 rated it liked it
Inspiring at times ... but there are better books to inspire and inform ultrarunners.
Kitvaria Sarene
3,5*

some parts were really interesting, but others I didn't care for so much.
For me it felt like the author knows just *how* special and amazing he is. That undertone was a bit annoying to me (even though he might have every right to think so as he has achieved so very much). He likes to repeat his body fat percentage and that it'd be easier to run if he wasn't as "ripped" but he wouldn't stop his other sports and training "just so running is easier".

The parts about the running itself and the di
...more
Crystal Harbath
Apr 15, 2020 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rich Szabo
Aug 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is an autobiography of Dean Karnazes who restarted his former high school running career at age 30 and the incredible events he subsequently completed. What impressed me was the determination and drive Karnazes shows in his psyche. He trains so very hard and gets the results he wants, becoming a master of extreme distance running.

The background on his coaches and family is quite telling. Without some of the coaching he had, who knows if he'd even tried to accomplish what he did. He obvious
...more
Connie  Kuntz
Dec 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I did not expect Ultramarathon Man to be a tearjerker, but it was. I did not expect to laugh out loud, but I did. If someone had told me I would read this book while sitting on the edge of my seat, I would have told them to Shut Up, but, guess what, I read most of this book whilst sitting on the edge of my seat. In short, this was the most entertaining book I read in 2010.

In case you are wondering, this book is about Dean Karnazes. I read about him a couple years ago in 50/50. He's the guy who
...more
Brad Lockey
Nov 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own-audiobook
This guy is kinda nuts, but I love it.
A story of stamina.
A story of drive.
A story of resilience.
A story of exploration.
Run somewhere, because you can.
We're all capable of more; whether it's being a better employee, father, person ... getting in better shape, eating healthier ... but so many of us settle.
Why is that?
I attempt to learn everywhere I go, and I try and push myself every day.
Now, drop and give me 30 push-ups just for fun.
Tomorrow, aim for 31.

Notable quotes that impacted me:

“I run beca
...more
Christelle
Mar 08, 2017 rated it did not like it
Probably one of the most pretentious and self absorbed books I've ever read. Read "Born to run", it has loads more information and talks about other runners than Dean McDeansty Deanster.
I mean, it's not like the guy ever pretends to be something he's not or to write something other than a completely flat "story of my spiritual awakening". Too bad he's really really monochromatic, boring and prone to ill-advised bouts of lyricism.
Nate Dern
Apr 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Listened to audiobook during my commute.

A solid entry in the distance runner memoir genre. Dean is a bit full of himself and self important at times, but still a good read overall. His account of the Western States 100 mile run is especially great. It's impressive to think of Dean completing the race without the wealth of knowledge that social media and the internet provide about the event today.
Derrian
Aug 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
He seems to get a bad rap for being egotistical, but given what he has achieved and continues to do, I don’t blame him for blowing his own trumpet.
I found running a marathon pushed me to my limit, the races he recounts in this book are phenomenal. how he can run 200 miles on no sleep is something else.
Fascinating read!
Bronson
Dec 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
An amazing story. I nice quick read that leaves you in awe of Dean's abilities.
Walter
Jun 01, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: running
Would you like to read a book about a wealthy, privileged marketing bro that has an unprovoked mid-life crisis and decides to take up running? Then you've come to the right place!

Yes, that's the long and short of Dean Karnaze's story. Is he as insufferable as other people point out? That depends. I heard this criticism before and that's why I put out reading this book for so long, but then I watched the documentary and he came across as a nice dude. So I gave him a shot.

Imagine my surprise when
...more
Fred
Oct 30, 2020 rated it liked it
It's not great literature but it sure is inspiring. Dean Karnazes shares his journey into the world of "ultra-marathoning," and tries, as best he can, to explain "why?" "Ultra runners" compete in races of longer than the normal marathon length often 50 or 100 miles. Karnazes is direct, clear, honest, amusing and, perhaps, a little self-promoting. But, hey, the guy ran a 200 mile, three-day race, across California -- twice. He ran the hardest race on the planet, four or five times. He ran a marat ...more
Tiaan Stassen
Jan 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Although the author comes forward as a bit braggy at times, his story is inspiring. It also gives a good indication of how tough an ultra (and running in general) can be on the body and mind. This is an excellent book for those in need of some inspiration to get up and go. 
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Dean Karnazes (b. Constantine Karnazes) is an American ultramarathon runner and author.

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Are you spending this season bundling up against the chill or enjoying summery southern hemisphere vibes (in which case we are...
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“Struggling and suffering are the essence of a life worth living. If you're not pushing yourself beyond the comfort zone, if you're not demanding more from yourself - expanding and learning as you go - you're choosing a numb existence. You're denying yourself an extraordinary trip.” 190 likes
“I run because if I didn’t, I’d be sluggish and glum and spend too much time on the couch. I run to breathe the fresh air. I run to explore. I run to escape the ordinary. I run…to savor the trip along the way. Life becomes a little more vibrant, a little more intense. I like that.” 189 likes
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