Dean Karnazes’ Run Across America

Dean Karnazes is expected to go farther than he ever has before. At the end of last month, he set off on a nearly 3,000-mile run across the United States, starting at Disneyland in Anaheim and looking to finish in New York in about 75 days.

On Friday, he’d put in 266 miles and was running through Arizona:

The plan is to do 40 to 50 miles a day, throw in about a dozen 5K races along the way so others can run with him, and also present motivational talks to help inspire sedentary children to get moving. “LIVE! with Regis and Kelly” is following his progress and helping to promote the cause, Action for Healthy Kids.

Now, before some folks get their running shorts all in a bunch, let me say that I’m aware of the criticisms of Dean Karnazes as a tireless self-promoter.

True, he has a history of making the absolute most of his accomplishments. I gave him a hard time about this, myself, after he came out with his first book, Ultramarathon Man. My beef? I objected to the title. “Ultramarathon Man” was an honorific previously put to Yiannis Kouros, who was then and still remains the most accomplished ultrarunner alive. (I’ll defend this fact to anyone who wants to get into a debate about it. If you’re unconvinced, just take a look at his stats and we can avoid a tussle.) At any rate, henceforth, Dean Karnazes will be known as the Ultramarathon Man, owing mostly to impressive marketing.

His p.r. people also made much of his 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days. With all the hoopla, some of the public came to think it was an unprecedented feat. It wasn’t. Sam Thompson had done it before to raise money for victims of Hurricane Katrina. And let me make the math plain: that’s 26.2 miles day, for a total of 1,310 miles. Nice work, but there are plenty of other runners out there going more impressive distances, and they’re raising money for great causes, too. So Dean isn’t the ultimate ultrarunner, or even the greatest fundraiser of the bunch. But he was the first to really break out.

I used to think that Dean Karnazes’s hype undercut his integrity as an athlete and sullied the sport, but nowadays, I take a less self-righteous view. This is due, in part, to having had a chance to talk with Dean about the marketing machine, understand how little control he has over what gets printed about him, and sympathize with (envy) how he manages to get his books noticed and what he’s able to do for his sponsors and causes.

Makes me wonder how much of the grumbling is just sour grapes.

Truth is that I’m getting slammed, too, by a few people who think that writing and promoting a book of my own—as well as seeking Dean’s endorsement for the back cover—puts me in the same class of commercial athlete, and I’ve hardly even gotten started yet. My take right now: If I’m half as successful as Dean Karnazes at getting my book into the hands of readers, I’ll be incredibly grateful. And if we can use these books and appearances and whatnot as a way to be ambassadors for our sport, to elevate it, so much the better. I’ll do my best to bring some dignity to the task. As Dean mentioned to me in an email the other day, “A rising tide lifts all boats.”

So enough about that.

Will Dean Karnazes finish or flame out?

This ain’t no Sunday picnic. It’s more than twice the mileage Dean Karnazes did with his 50/50/50 and 50 percent more days running. He’s doing something fewer than 150 others have done. I reviewed the statistics on John Wallace III’s site (where you can also see who else is currently running or walking across the country, and there are many), which shows that, among runners who’ve completed a trans-American crossing, there are

  • 144 people who’ve averaged 40 to 50 miles a day,
  • 6 of us who’ve done between 50 and 60 (I’m at the top of that group), and
  • 3 who’ve averaged 60 to 66 miles a day.

So I wish him courteous traffic, soft surfaces to run on, pleasant weather, and plenty of sleep, all of which eluded me most of the time during my transcon in 2008. He does already have a lot going for him, which may propel him to a respectable finish:

  • He’s not injury prone (in fact, he’s never had a serious injury).
  • He has a good support group.
  • He’s young yet. In my estimation, at 48 years old, he’s hanging out in the higher altitudes of the aging hill. My peak was between 40 and 44; by 46 I was starting to feel some changes. By 50, I was perceptably aging, taking longer to recover and starting to slow down. Bottom line: it’s good that he’s doing it right now.
  • His mileage is reasonable. Yes, the average person would have a hard time doing 40 miles a day, but most experienced athletes agree that solid runners can pull this off without a lot of trouble. Once you get to 50 or more miles a day, you weed out the men from the boys. If you get to 60 miles (100 km) you jump up to world-class, and there are just a handful of people who can do this.
  • He has valid experience. He’s won the Badwater 135 and placed well at the Western States 100. The mental and physical toughness he’s demonstrated will serve him well.

As I write this, I’m thinking about what state Dean’s in, both physically and mentally. After a week of over-40-mile days, he’s getting to the point where he’s feeling the yuck of it. The first few days are fine, but then you experience the cumulative effects, get the inkling that you’re screwing yourself into the ground. For at least the next week, Dean Karnazes will be feeling the hurt as his body adjusts to the reality of what he’s asking it to do.

The secret to surviving this is rest. If I got less than 4 hours a night when I was running across the U.S., it was problematic: I got delirious, slowed down, broke down. As long as Dean can maintain a regular sleep schedule and get what he needs (which may be more or less than I did), then he’ll be able to continue. Not only does he need the time off his feet, but he also needs to close his eyes and shut down, not just for physical recovery but for the mental break, too.

That’s because his mind is adjusting to this new normal, as well. I can remember thinking, Okay, this is my life now. That thought would have eaten me alive if I had fought it, so I just tried to settle down and accept it. No doubt Dean is experiencing much the same thing.

I found that the first 1,000 miles were all about adjustment, with my mind wrestling to accept my fate, and my body morphing into a running machine. The second thousand miles were all about settling in, but then the next hurdle was at the 2,000-miles mark, when I realized I had another effing thousand miles to go. Getting to the finish is almost entirely mental after that point, barring serious injury.

Ultimately, what will determine if Dean is successful is whether he’s able to offset the inevitable tightening of his muscles and the soft tissue injuries and potential stress fractures caused by pounding the pavement for such a long distance. Physical therapy will be key, so I hope he’s got professionals with him who know what they’re doing.

No doubt: this experience will prove Dean Karnazes out. If he’s successful in reaching the finish, then I’ll be first in line to say he’s lived up to the title of his book.

This entry was posted in Charities & Fundraising, Friends & Family, Run Across U.S., SFO-NYC (2008). Bookmark the permalink.

48 Responses to Dean Karnazes’ Run Across America

  1. Jim McCord says:

    Everyone has different dreams, aspirations and goals. I’m impressed with both your and Dean’s accomplishments. Congrats to both of you for some incredible running and some unbelievable writing. “The individual is always mistaken.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

  2. Very gracious article Marshall. I cant wait to get your new book.

  3. Todd J says:

    I feel that regardless of whether or not Dean Karnazes’ self-interests outweigh his interests in the causes he is running for, he brings attention to the sport, and not necessarily in a bad way. He gets more people running, and that’s a goal that I understand and share.
    That being said, I am no fan of (over)commercialization of ultrarunning. Running long is a personal experience which can get diminished when you start hearing about it on the cable news outlets. Let’s hope it never comes to that.
    Todd J´s last blog post ..Every Run Is A Song

  4. footfeathers says:

    It’s easy to criticize success. Great perspective on your part. I guess it takes a great champion to recognize others’ accomplishments. Though some of Dean Karnazes’ feats are a bit hokey, he has had great race results and shown amazing resilience and drive.
    I can’t begin to imagine the mental capacity required to run 50 miles a day for 80 days. Looking forward to reading your book!

  5. Denise Jones says:

    I would agree Marshall. You always have a gracious and humble approach to your views and perspectives. I celebrate you in the interesting statistics and good article. You will always be my hero, not just in running, but for the great human being you really are!!!
    I wish Dean the best also……
    Your loving friend,

  6. Derrick says:

    Excellent post. Really enjoyed your perspective on it.

  7. Well said Marshall,

    I would only argue that they are a lot of top ultrarunners out there. The problem with Ultrarunning is, that there are so many distances from 50k to 3100 miles or even more. While Yiannis Kouros was the best athlete between 24h and 1000 miles ( all records are still valid), there are faster people on the shorter distances and others did longer races too.

    Scott Jurek for instance is probably on of the best versatile runners of the younger generation, he won Badwater twice in 2004 and 05 but also the more prestigious Spartathlon 3 times in a row from 2006 -2008. ( A153 mile road race in Greece with a 36h cut off) . In the middle of that he also won Hardrock 100 in 2007 which is considered to be one of the toughest mountain trail 100 Miler in the world.
    And last year Scott ran 165.7 miles in the IAU-IAAF 24 hour World Championships in France seting a new American record.

    Than there are runners like Karl Melzer, Geoff Roes, Anton Krupicka and many others more who push their limits in races every year. Karl has won 29 100 milers until today but he also races with the other running greats when he doesn’t have a chance to win, like at the Rocky Raccoon 100 this year.

    All what I am saying is that Ultrarunning has a lot to offer to different people.

    And now I have to train for my own little race.

    • Marshall says:


      Thanks for the comment and I agree on so many levels. But to be clear, in the sport of Ultrarunning only one stands out above the rest. The athletes you mentioned are extraordinary, much more so than I ever hoped to be. And each generation has a host of athletes who are cut out of that same mold, but I would suggest taking a step back in history, as those people (who have come before us) laid the groundwork for the sport of ultrarunning. They too pushed the limits.

      The names you mentioned are homegrown, and I think this begs the question: Is America the most ego-centric nation on earth? I would say it ranks up there.

      I can tell you this, in my travels, I have met a number of foreign athletes that boggle my mind and they do it all for the love of the sport and with very little or no recognition. I know that Scott has won the Spartathlon, but Yiannis still holds that record. Scott did 167.5 miles in 24 hrs, almost 10% less than Yiannis’s record. Now I’m talking ultrarunning and not short distances, which the men you mentioned in your reply (seem to be doing those similar distances) and that’s what we’re debating isn’t it? And how versitle are these people really? Simply put they are one dimensional sport folks, that being running. When I think of versitle athletes, I think of adventure sports, which involve other skills beyond road or trail running. So greatness is all in the eye of the beholder. In my minds (limited perception) eye, diversity is the spice of life…sex and Mexican food (in that order) ain’t bad either.

      Keep the comments coming I love them!

      See you out there.

      • “Is America the most ego-centric nation on earth? I would say it ranks up there.”

        I couldn’t agree more with you Marshall.

        Ultrarunning is such a versatile sport. It starts with everything just beyond the Marathon distance. In Europe the most important distances are 100k and 24h races. The Spartathlon is probably the unofficial world championships on roads. Pretty much every top European ultrarunner was there at one point of their running career. Now it seems that the Mt. Blanc 100 miler gets all the attention but my guess would be that 70-80 of the ultrarunning races is still done on roads.

        Very different in the US. According to Ultrarunning magazin 89% of the races are trail races. Which is great but it is a total different ball game.

        Trails or Road, both is good. I think runners here in America should recognize that the running culture in Europe is just a bit different. There are brilliant runners on both sides of the Atlantic for sure.

        I think the American running scene is more divided, just because of the huge distances to races. People specialize here more to the terrain they live in.

        With now 84 100 milers in North America there is a lot more choice than ever. ( 10 years ago there where maybe 25 races)

        Since Ultrarunning covers such a big variety of distances and race forms there will be not one: THE BEST Ultrarunner.

        Yiannis Kouros is of course up there, he was the best in nonstop races from 24h to 1000 miles. In other races he got beaten especially in stage races. I was lucky to met him 2 times and blessed to be in his 24h world record setting race in Basel, Switzerland in 1998.

        I think every runner chooses what he likes and does best. At least that is what I am doing and that’s why I am looking forward to race through the country in 4 month in the 9th Trans America Footrace since 1928.
        Markus Mueller´s last blog post ..Training recap January-February

        • Marshall says:


          Ah, you speak from real experience! Great post. Yes, you are right about the number of 100-mile (trail races). In 1989 I was the first to do ALL of them (6 in one season–ha!), and look now at all of them!

          I feel privileged to be in such a great sport, don’t you? I’m going to be thinking about you guys when you are out there in the “break down” lane. Be careful above all, please!

  8. Jenny says:

    You all have excellent perspectives on the topic of ultrarunning. Running long will forever be a personal experience, and no amount of commercialization can change/diminish that unless you allow it. You can always keep it personal.

  9. Nigel Reed says:

    Great blog Marshall.Having attempted to cover 500km in 5 days walking, I can say that by day 5 and well behind my target distance I was hallucinating and in tears.On the first attempt which was too raise funds for my walk from the UK to Australia via the USA the only way I could start was with 2 men holding me up as I walked for two laps of the track.That,s walking not running.Both you and Dean Karnazes are tremendous athletes.
    During my crossing unaccompanied I was fortunate to stay with American families you cannot take lightly the need for good support in my early days shin splints was a concern then the weight of my pack caused considerable shoulder pain.What kept me focused was the promise I had made to my daughter.

    I wish Dean well, I am sure he will finish it was the high point of my life in 1995.

    God Bless Nigel

  10. Roman Dial says:


    Articulate commentary by one of the few with the history, perspective, experience, and above all balance and character sufficient to comment on this.

    Looking forward to reading more.

    Roman Dial´s last blog post ..Recent Packrafting Links

    • Marshall says:


      You and Andy are two of the few explorers left in the world. It’s a privilege to have you post on my blog. I read the current EXCELLENT National Geo article about Andy’s adventure, glad you got to join him. Wow is all I can say.

  11. Hi Marshall,

    As a fellow tranconner (4,800 miles on the American Discovery Trail in ’98), I also identify with your take on Dean Karnazes’ quest. I was able to attend his latest 5k in Phoenix this morning and what struck me most was the magnitude of his support team: two tour buses, two trucks and a minivan, a bike with a cameraman sidecar and two running pacers. It’s a lot – visually – to be reminded just how much is riding on your performance each day. What I most identified with in your entry was the mental down time necessary to maintain stability. Some days on my trip I just laid down on my motel bed and cried after another hard day done. While it’s certainly helpful to have a personal physician on hand and a crew for 24/7 support, because his trip is so mentally challenging, he’s going to need to find a way to escape from the hustle and recharge.

    I’d say that one thing he has going for him is his direction. I was going west, towards the open desert. Dean is eastbound. If he can make it to about Wichita he will begin to enjoy towns only about 10-20 miles apart. This will make it easier mentally and allow him to be cheered on by locals more frequently. There’s no doubt that his trip is bringing greater awareness to ultra running and, in my opinion, journey running as well. Ultimately, I hope people someday view this not just as a spectacle but as a valid mode of travel.

    • Marshall says:


      Thanks for your comments. Yes it’s tough enough out there without dealing with all of those distractions. I had no idea he had such an extensive crew…this no doubt further complicates things, as the more people involved, the more personality conflicts are likely to arise. I’m glad I had a smaller crew, but at times they were pulling double 8- to 9-hour shifts, and it was extremely hard on them. If I were able to run faster, it would have made it a lot easier for them. 😉

  12. John Vonhof says:

    Good post Marshall. It’s timely for me because on my way home from Orlando, I am on page 198 of a reread of Running on Empty. Again I commend you (and Heather) on a great book. My only comment is that I think Dean Karnazes has some control over what is said about him. I think he could quash some of the inaccurate things said about him. Or he could counter with a more accurate statement. I have no fault with Dean and give him credit for getting many into running – he has been good for our sport. Many runners have done what he does, and many have done much more – without the fanfare. He has a good publicist who promotes him at the expense of others.

    • Marshall says:


      As always your spot-on comments are appreciated. It was GREAT to see you at the R.A. screening. Always a pleasure to be able to call you my friend.

  13. David Lim says:

    Hi Marshall

    From an observer based out here in Singapore, I would add to the chorus that there’s always a fine line between BS and the ‘real deal’. The hard thing to swallow for some is that talent and hardwork doesnt get you where you want to be sometimes. Sometimes you need to do a little schmoozing, and sometimes cringe at what some of your reps are saying about you. I’ve seen it happen in the mountaineering world. That being said, some folk are just out-and-out self-promoters, which does offend the ‘ purists’. I guess it depends what you need to do to get certain things. Well-known climbers have been known to seek commercial sponsorship to pull off some rather expensive, and creditable climbing feats, and/or to support their occupation. Ditto writing and promoting books. The key thing is to be honest with yourself and your public. I know some people in my neck of the woods who lack integrity in many things they say and do, but I also have to credit them for achieving specific things.

    Thanks for lending perspectives to a difficult tightrope pro extreme sport athletes have to walk.

  14. Adrian Crane says:

    What a great thread. We were honored to have Marshal here in Modesto recently and he will be the speaker at the Modesto Marathon. I agree with Marshal that Yiannis currently deserves the mantle of ‘most accomplished ultra runner’ as his performances were often far ahead of his competiton. This doesn’t mean that every performance at every distance was better but in Yiannis case it was more often so than for any other ultrarunner. (BTW; just because a runner wins a race like Hardrock that is very difficult, doesn’t give him any greater claim than the victor at ‘easier’ events since that difficult event is difficult for every competitor).
    And I too will put in a word for adventure racers who put in multi day performances under difficult physical and mental conditions.

    • Marshall says:

      And Adrian knows as he has been in the sport for decades…and holds some unbelievable records such as holding the greatest descent in 24 hours going from almost 23,000 feet from the top of Aconcagua to the sea! Incredible! And I am privileged to have raced a number of Eco Challenges with Adrian–we are two of three who have competed in all 9 of those races. Tony Molina is the third.

  15. Malcolm says:

    Great post Marshall and I can honestly say I would never have gotten into ultra running if it were not for Dean Karnazes. I would then never have heard about all the other great athletes like yourself, Scott, Geoff, Kilian, Anton, Charlie Engle etc. Dean may not be the greatest in history as an athlete but he has opened a lot of doors for the other runners out there and given ordinary runners the encouragement to go beyond their perceived limits. People should never forget that. Each to their own I say and as long as his message is positive I wish him all the luck in the world. Looking forward to your book immensely Marshall 🙂

    • Marshall says:

      Thanks for the comment and I agree 100%. We all motivate other people in ways we sometimes never know. And it doesn’t have to be in the sport of running. Just by setting/being a good example for our kids and youth is another way. I just happen to have a soft spot in my heart for the hard sport of running 😉 you know what I mean!

  16. AJ Johnson says:

    Hi Marshall,

    I enjoyed reading your post and I am looking forward to reading your book as well. I am still fairly new to ultra running and I really should increase my knowledge of the history of the sport. Truth be told, I was just running marathons and stumbled upon Dean Karnazes’ book and bought it out of curiousity. Upon completing it I walked over to my computer and signed up for a 50 miler and the rest is history for me. I’ve ran (7) 100 milers now with the most recent being last week. I recovered in 2 days and I have a 50K in 2 weeks. What I’m trying to say is that by your having achieved what you have in this sport you have inspired I would have to say thousands (hopefully more 🙂 ) to give ultras a shot and become physically fit beyond our wildest dreams. Keep up the great work, and again, I’m looking forward to reading your book and getting even more inspired! After all, I have another 100 (MMT) in May that is going to be a tough one so I need all the help I can get. Take care!

    • Marshall says:

      Thanks for your comment. We are all in this together aren’t we? Contratulations on all YOUR achomplishments…and believe me when I say you are inspiring people with what you do. Good luck on you upcoming 100. Stay in touch and I hope to meet you soon!

  17. John Grotts says:

    Great Blog!
    I maybe wrong, but one thing about Dean Karnazes that I notice, that there’s not much mention of any other runners.

    Other than that, I am impressed with what he has done, and very impressed with what I have read about other runners as well.

    But than, my experience is that of a jogger, having paid the fee’s to play at a few 5 and 10k runs, and now facing only my second Marathon..

    But having a small taste of what it takes train for the few events that I have run.

    What you and others have done is very impressive and a lot hard work.

    God Bless and be safe.

    • Marshall says:


      In my book I highlight not only some great runners and mentors that have inspired me, but everyday people who are in some instances are the MOST interesting and inspiring. I say “honoring the past, looking to the future.” I think we elevate ourselves (and it represents how secure we are in our own skin) when we honor others around us. I’m just so grateful for all the opportunities I’ve had, luck that has come my way, and wonderful people I’ve met.
      Take care and thanks for the post.

  18. Marshall
    Thanks for your good blog, especially that input about Dean Karnazes.
    I have run twice with Dean – met him at the Badwater and in Fargo, ND. when he did one of his 50-50-50. I don’t know Dean that well, but I have also read various articles about him and read his UltramarathonMan book. My experience with him has been really good. I have been impressed especially by one story he told where he stopped to talk to an older runner, took time to converse with him, where the senior runner told him he (Dean) was and inspiration to him: then Dean was emotionally touched by this comment and Dean returned a comment by saying that he, the elderly runner was an inspiration to Dean. I really saw that as a wonderful example of fair and gentlemanly attitude.
    He also has the better means/where-withall to be able to promote himself with a good company (North Face) backing him. I think he is doing a great work in supporting needy children, helping them – that is honorable. I too have run for charity. I have not been as privileged in the amounts as he has been, but if he uses his running to do his best and raising funds for others, I think that is wonderful. I have done what I can – do my best, however I am much slower and older by now, but I feel good in having used my running in a little way to help others – less fortunate people in Africa and Europe etc. I still continue to run for charity – just slower. I have been blessed to raise about $220,000.00 for charities. I enjoyed running the Badwater, across Germany, and Switzerland, and Marathon des Sables in Morocco – which is little compared to his efforts and records. I was humbled last week when I was inducted into the Manitoba Running Hall of Fame. All praise and glory to my Lord Jesus, who enables me to run – He gives me the lungs, legs, heart and health. I don’t deserve all the blessings showered upon me. Take care. Albert

    • Marshall says:


      YOU my friend deserve all the blessings that come your way. Yes, Dean Karnazes is an inspriation to so many and that’s what it is all about, isn’t it? 10% of proceeds from my book goes toward the Sisters’ cause of helping improvished women and children around the world a great cause. That’s what makes the world go round.

  19. Paul Both says:

    I did my transcon run last year so I too take an interest in Dean Karnazes’s run as well. I have a couple thoughts. First, I am glad I am not out there running right now 😉 Also, maybe a little jealous of all the press he is getting. I did mine for political reasons and most media wouldn’t touch it and also a little envious of his entourage. But, all in all, I think the cause is noble and I have always loved how Dean inspires a lot of people to run. He, after all inspired me to do my first ultra with his book.

    I always try to remember, someone doesn’t have to lose to for someone to win.

  20. Enjoyed the read Marshall. I will always look back on Badwater days with great memories and remember how awe-inspiring the distances are and how awesome the people are.

    All The Best.

    • Marshall says:

      Great to hear from you Matt. Hi-Tec was a great sponsor back in the true 146 mile days. I can remember Dave Pompell arguing with the Forest Service and them giving him tons of heat about people on the trail headed up. Now days only a handful head up to the top, but I still have my string of 16 official Badwater 146’s to the top (and a few more with the solo and quad and North to South etc.). Things are a changing ;-). I can also remember YOU pulling your hair out at times, being the race director was no easy task.

  21. Calirunner says:

    I commend you Marshall for your extraordinary accomplishments. You guys inspire and encourage so many, each in your own personal/individual way! I have been friends with Dean for several years and must say he is truly the real deal and one of the most humble, compassionate and giving persons around. As a short distance (marathons only…maybe an ultra when the kids are older) running mom of four I believe it’s my responsibility to demonstrate to my children the importance of a healthy, active lifestyle. I am grateful for the exposure of such a huge epidemic in our country; childhood and adult obesity and thank all of you for leading by example and inspiring me and countless others to get moving.

  22. The idea that Dean Karnazes over-commercialized the sport mystified me. His first book got me interested in ultramarathoning, and prompted me to go on to run three ultramarathons. Prior to his book, I simply never had considered the idea that a person could run further than 26. miles at a time. So I’ll always be grateful he exposed me to this terrific way of life. And I believe that Dean has done much to put ultramarathoning on the map for many people.

    I never have gotten the feeling from Dean that he thought he was the fastest, strongest, greatest, etc. While it is possible that this is calculated posturing, I prefer to believe he actually is as modest as he portrays himself to be.
    Timothy Chen Allen´s last blog post ..Idea- The Shivery 30 Blanket Run

    • Marshall says:

      I have to think hard when I comment in a negative way about anyone. Ultimately, if I take a close look, I discover my own insecurities when I criticize others. At one time in my life I spent a lot of time trying to figure out when I was angry where it came from. My conclusion was that it came from within (it had nothing to do with what was going on around me).

      Dean’s doing a fine job of promoting the sport and bringing attention to the obesity problem. Thanks for your valuable comment.


  23. Ruth Ahnen says:

    Wonderful blog Marshall, I have enjoyed reading everyones posts and your answers also. I cannot wait to read your book when it comes out. I would not have happened upon your site if it had not been for reading about your book release on Dean’s site. I am approaching 50 and completed my first 50 miler last fall. Dean’s book got me started thinking about the possibility of running farther. I have been able to be a role model for the kids I coach(swim) and their parents. His book and I am sure yours will too, have a great ripple effect on the lives of those who read your accounts of incredible physical/mental accomplishments and they will encourage others and so on and so on. I guess the appeal is knowing and being encouraged by all of you. I am currently contemplating a 100 miler for my 50th! I am hoping your book will further encourage me. I do my races as fundraisers too. Sometimes thats what gets me to the finish line!
    Take care and God Bless!!!
    Ruth Ahnen

    • Marshall says:


      Thank you. The book: well I hope the message is that you can do more than you think you can. “Dream it and do it.” But more than that, I believe the book transcends the running genre and is multi-layered. You’ll see when you read it. Although it goes into great detail about the run, I love it when people say, “this is much more than a running book” (how boring would a book be if it just talked about a transcontinental run; how about our support system, and how about those who have gone before us, etc. etc.). I hope you like it, too. My best to you! And you will be successful with your 100 miler, I can tell by your attitude (a very good one)!

  24. Dean should pick up the pace, 40 a day is pedestrian…even 45 is too easy. Great that he’s raising money for charity, not many people can say that, not even me. I run cuz’ I like it, Dean has a great promotional team. He just has to run, and when that’s the case, the easy part is what Dean is doing. I do commend Dean for everything he’s done, without his help I probably wouldn’t be where I am today. It’s cool.

    • Curious, who are the 6 that averaged 50+ a day. I averaged 53 a day on the Pony Express Trail this past summer. 2064 miles in 39 days. Honestly, it could have been 60 per day had I been charging at a record, it felt pretty easy. It’s about management and just getting the miles done each day, not about speed. I managed each 50 mile split at about 9:30 every day. Had I gone for 12-13 hours, even walking the extra 3 hours, 60 would have been easy. Anyway just curious who the 6 are. -Karl
      Speedgoat Karl´s last blog post ..Dan Vega wins Antelope Island- but a goat came close…and look at the odds at the Sonoma Lake 50 mile!

      • Marshall says:

        Karl, is where you can go and check out the complete list of trans-con crossings.

        Your runs are certainly impressive, to say the least. Congratulations to you.

        Enduring hardship has its rewards doesn’t it?

        Thanks for your comments — they are always appreciated!


    • Marshall says:


      Thanks for your comment. I don’t want to leave the impression that anyone who gets out there and does 40 miles a day crossing America on foot is not accomplishing something significant. It takes a brave soul to take on the roads of America. Anyone who gets out there and attempts a crossing is okay in my book!

      In my book “Running on Empty” (Penguin/Avery) I talk about pioneers who crossed the land before us; those are remarkable stories and I uncovered one (a sidebar in my book) that tells of Helga Estby and her 18-year-old daughter, Clara. They crossed the U.S. on foot in 1893. They were about to lose their home, and an anonymous sponsor offered $10,000.00 to any woman who could walk across America in 7 months. They carried a Smith & Wesson revolver to ensure safe passage. Did they make it? Well the story is remarkable, you have to read the book to discover the answer.

      Folks like them paved (no pun intended) the way for ordinary people like you and me ;-).



  25. Jack says:

    Hi Marshall,

    I’m looking forward to your book and hopefully plenty more to come. You must have a bunch of awesome stories to tell!

    I thought you might be interested to hear about Deborah De Williams. In October 2010 she completed a run around Australia and then just kept going to raise money and awareness for breast cancer research. So far she has run every day for the last 377 days and has clocked up 16,558 km (10,288 miles).!/pages/Deborah-De-Williams-Running-Pink/343793460357?sk=wall



  26. jonathan says:


    i am reading your book, about a quarter way through it, and am loving it! i learned about it from Dean Karnazes’s facebook page, found your page, and have now been reading your blog..

    i am impressed with your running accomplishments, no doubt, but am equally (if not more) impressed with the way you speak about others and about yourself. i appreciate the open and honest tone of your book and how you make this thing called running accessible to everyone, no matter how slow some of us may be! anything’s possible, right?

    Dean certainly has the media’s ear and i think he’s doing a pretty good job getting the word out. i have read his books, and not casting any stones, i feel i’ve gotten more “bang for my buck” with Running on Empty!

    i look forward to finishing your book soon,


    • Jonathan, thank you for your comment, and especially for what you said about how I speak about others. Like everyone else, I’m not perfect, but I do my best to support fellow athletes and to elevate the sport. By the way, if you have a minute to post a review of my book on Amazon, I’d really appreciate it!

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