Dean Karnazes, the endurance sports icon who ran for 80 hours without stopping, talks business with Brunswick’s Brian Baker
Dean Karnazes commands speaking fees as high as $20,000 and his clients have included Google, Nike and Facebook. Given both the volume of requests and the time he spends preparing for each speech, Karnazes describes himself as “oversubscribed.” His media résumé includes being profiled on 60 Minutes and making appearances on The Late Show with David Letterman and The Today Show. In 2007, Karnazes made the 200-person shortlist for Time’s annual compilation of the “Most Influential People in The World” – along with Steve Jobs, Angela Merkel, Hu Jintao and Queen Elizabeth II.
That’s a lot of exposure for an endurance athlete, especially one who has never won an Olympic medal, or any of the world’s major marathons (Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago, New York City) or endurance events, like the Tour de France.
All of those races focus on speed. Karnazes’s fame doesn’t stem from how fast he is, but rather, how far he goes.
It was Karnazes’s 2005 best-selling memoir, Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner, that propelled him into the national spotlight. The book detailed some of Karnazes’s near-masochistic athletic accomplishments: finishing a marathon at the South Pole where temperatures dropped to -13 Fahrenheit (-25C) – a feat Karnazes celebrated by running a lap of the frozen course nude; racing a 135-mile ultramarathon through the fittingly named Death Valley, where Karnazes ran on the road’s painted white lines so the 130-degree heat bouncing off the black pavement wouldn’t melt the rubber soles of his shoes; completing, on his own, a 199-mile relay race meant to be carved up between a team of 12. For a while, Karnazes woke at 2 a.m. so he could run a marathon each morning before work.