Saturday, February 26, 2011

Regarding Dean Karnazes

Friday, Dean Karnazes,endurance athlete and ultrarunner,began his run across America from Disneyland in California. Reports say Karnazes will average 50 t0 60 miles a day,it is predicted that he will arrive in Manhattan around May 11 where he will finish at the studio of "Live! With Regis and Kelly." The show will be providing daily updates of his run. Predictably,the running forums and blogs have used this event to bash and criticize Karnazes as they have done on a regular basis in the past. I find their doing so unfortunate and perplexing. Unlike Stan Cottrell of the '70's, who claimed to have completed some incredible ultra runs only to be proven a fraud, Karnazes is a great runner.He is a past winner of the Vermont 100 mile Endurance Run and the Badwater Ultra. Those who question his racing ability need to do a quick search and they'll see the degree of difficulty as it relates to those two events. He's won other races and has done such things as run 50 marathons in 50 days in 50 states, as well as run 350 miles in 80 hours without stopping.A few years back when he dnf'd at the Western States 100 mile Trail Run, people on the web posted derogatory comments questioning his courage and his ability as a runner. Interestingly,these same people will post on Scott Jurek's and Anton Krupicka's blogs expressing their sympathy when both of these runners dnf a race. Jurek has been openly critical of Karnazes in the past,something that runs contrary to his persona. So why all the disdain and hate for a runner,who at age 48, is clearly an outstanding athlete? Why is it silly to think this way? You don't have to be a graduate in psychology to recognize that the primary reasons for this are envy and/or jealousy. Another reason might be, and a belief I once held to, is that Karnazes' self-promotion can be a little grating and runs contrary to the view we have of the quiet,introspective distance runner. When you think about it though,who can blame a guy for behaving in a way that allows him to make a living doing something he loves? Wouldn't we all want to? I know I would.
Ultimately,hating Dean is silly and foolish. Why? The answer is simple and it all has to do with the promotion of running. The only time I read anything about running in the two newspapers I receive is when the Pre meet is being held and maybe the Millrose Games. Usually,other then that, I won't see a thing about distance running until it's getting near the time of the Olympics.However,there have been a few occasions in the last two years when I have seen articles written about running other than during the Pre meet or Millrose Games.First was when Karnazes was running the 50 marathons and the other was this past Friday as he began his cross country run. When I was growing up features about runners and races were a regular part of the sports section of the newspaper, track meets were covered just like baseball and basketball games are today. As a result of this kids were encouraged to take up running and join track and cross-country teams at school. I'm sure running still flourishes in certain parts of the country but nowhere near like it once did.Instead of criticizing Dean, we should be thankful that because of him more articles about running are being published in the mainstream media. It is my hope that because of this coverage, others will be encouraged to take up the greatest and purest of all sports,running.

No comments:

Post a Comment