Run! 26.2 Stories of Blisters and Bliss Hardcover – Mar 1 2011
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“Dean is not an athlete of clichés but a man who deeply inhabits his life as a runner. He does that with a really solid sense of humor and an understanding that life…and running…can be very entertaining!” ―Bill Rodgers, winner of the Boston and New York City marathons
“Iron man Dean Karnazes is no mere mortal.” ―Time
“Running with Karnazes [is] like setting up one's easel next to Monet or Picasso.” ―The New York Times
“The undisputed king of the ultras, who has not only pushed the envelope but blasted it to bits.” ―The Philadelphia Inquirer
“A ‘short' run with Dean could land you far from home.” ―The Washington Post
“The indefatigable man.” ―Esquire
“Ultrarunning legend” ―Men's Journal
“Money and fame aside, Karnazes [is] motivated by a primal need more than anything else.” ―Outside
About the Author
DEAN KARNAZES was named by Time magazine as one of the Top 100 Most Influential People in the World. He has appeared on 60 Minutes, The Late Show with David Letterman, and the Today show. A New York Times best-selling author, he has written for Reader's Digest, Runner's World and Men's Health. Dean lives with his wife and family in the San Francisco Bay Area.
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Dean, what happened? Early on in "Run!" the thought began creeping in my mind that you've started taking yourself far too seriously, and that all of the steps you take in your runs are after nothing but the mighty dollar. This book, at best, is a series of short stories better suited for a free blog as opposed to qualifying it as a full book. Some of the stories are entertaining, but many, and I mean many of them are self-righteous and plain boring. The further I read, the more my letdown turned to anger--Dean, you've lost your way, man! While I'm certain you'll have a fourth effort looming before too long, I encourage you to return to your roots--become an inspirational story teller and avoid trying to make yourself a writer. "Ultramarathonman" worked, "50/50" was just that, and "Run!" simply misses the mark.
I'm willing to give you another shot, Dean, but don't do it for the money, because I'm onto you!
First off, I was expecting what was pitched "26.2 short stories about running." What I got though was 26 snippets - with a few fuller "stories" included - in there about how Dean Karnazes is A) the greatest ultra runner ever, B) how Dean Karnazes thinks he's the greatest adventurer of all time C) and finally about how many other people think Dean Karnazes is great.
Now don't get me wrong, he's quite a guy and most people will never come near his level of superior running, but the 272 of self congratulatory stories, page after page, made me cringe countless times.
One of my favorite traits of this book is his ability to write about how he is "humble," doesn't like the spot light, and doesn't think he's great. But then conveniently, the next line is always some friend, family member, or fan praising his amazing accomplishments.
An additional issue I find in the book is his constant use of "us runners" or "we runners" or "only fellow runners understand" as a gimmick to tie the author closer to the reader. Let's face it, "runners" and what Karno does should not be confused. The weekend warriors that are getting winded doing a 5k don't understand what he goes through, and vice-versa. It's been a long time since he and his "fellow runners" were even on the same planet. He runs at such an extreme - and impressively so - that he shouldn't belittle his achievements by pretending I have any idea what sort of training and focus he has.
What frustrates me most about this book though is at its core, there was a great story to be told. This man has done amazing feats of endurance and running and I want to hear about it. I want to know every detail about his trails and his triumphs. I want the whole picture, and I want to decide what kind of guy he is. 4 of the stories chronicle the amazing desert endurance race series. The first tale covers the brutal Atacama event in great detail. Those pages I was captivated by. But the next 3 races he basically glosses over and tells us few details beyond where he was placing, and a few points on how he was feeling. I don't even know how many miles most of these events were. Why not include a few facts too? Those 4 races alone, interspersed with a few more personal accounts of how he became the runner he is - his friendship with Topher and his marriage to his wife - would have created an epic book written by an amazing runner.
But instead, we're left with fluff that comes off as "look how great everything I do is."
If you want a great book with short stories on running, check out the Runners World anthology "Going Long." Now that is a collection of short stories on Running.
Karnazes writes with a combination of poetry and tell-it-like-it-is imagery (if you're squeamish about bodily fluids, you may want to skip a few chapters). Through his honest self-reflection I finally understand WHY he runs. At no time does he feel so alive as when he's lying in a puddle of the aforementioned bodily fluids, trying to roust himself to run one more (or a hundred more) miles. He loves it. It's like going to the edge of death and back again and again.
Whether you're a casual runner, a couch potato, or a dedicated ultramarathoner, there's something for you in Run! But be careful - reading it just might change you.
Karnazes has lost some of that easy storytelling style in his most recent book, Run! The writing is a bit more self-conscious, as if he's aware now of being a Writer. And it seems he told all his best stories in the first book, because the tales here are padded and not very outrageous. They would be good stories told among friends over a beer, but many tend to fall flat in print. For instance, he tells of trying a balloon-like device that allows him to run while floating on water. He takes it to the beach and onto the water, to the astonishment of sunbathers and small children. Offshore he encounters a fin in the water - a shark! But no, it's just a sunfish and there's no danger after all. And that's it.
There are some good entries here, such as his account of entering four desert races on four continents in one year, including a harrowing competition in Antarctica.
Karnazes introduces the book as 26.2 chapters that will coalesce to tell a complete tale. The individual chapters seem like blog posts that are self-contained. The whole was no greater than the sum of its parts and the parts could be read in any order.
Run! is a pleasant read, if not as memorable as Ultramarathon Man.