SAN DIEGO – The ultimate ultramarathon took place last weekend in Northern California.
Called the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run, its path winds from Olympic Valley to just outside of Sacramento, crossing mountains and rivers and includes nearly 20,000 feet of climbing and descent. Thousands of people enter a lottery for a chance at one of the coveted 370 spots in the run.
SoCal native Dean Karnazes has finished the grueling race not once, but several times. It is the subject of his latest book published in April called “A Runner’s High: My Life in Motion.”
“The Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run is basically impossible I would tell people,” Karnazes said. “How a human being can run 100 miles going down through the mountains, you know, crossing rivers, climbing up peaks, snow, heat, all of those things. It is seemingly impossible.
“To be able to actually finish that race, it proves to you that nothing is impossible.”
Karnazes, 58, told FOX 5 he ran competitively when he was young up until he was a freshman in high school. When his school won a state championship in cross country, he said that’s when he stopped because he felt he took the sport as far as he could go.
It came back to him on a drunken night of his 30th birthday when he decided to run 30 miles to celebrate.
“I walked out of the bar and I’ll never forget I didn’t own running gear and I had these comfortable silk boxer shorts on,” he said. “I took off my pants, threw them down the alleyway and just started stumbling into the night knowing there’s a city called Half Moon Bay 30 miles away and I ran straight through the night. Stumbled, hobbled, crawled. The next morning, I decided I was going to be a runner.”
So why run the 100-mile endurance run more than once? For Karnazes, he said it’s about “seeing it through fresh eyes.”
“Every race is a new challenge,” he said. “The first time I ran the race, it was 1994. I went back 25 years later to see if I could still pull it off. Now I’m in my mid-50s and just wanted to see if the magic was still there and the fire in my belly and my heart could get me to that finish line.”