Book Review: ‘Ultra Marathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner’

The only real upside to a 5 hour 40 minute flight is that I can get caught up on my reading. Before we left for Boston I decided to pick up Dean Karnazes’ book, “Ultra Marathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner”, as I have heard great things about it. Sure glad I did!

Engaged is probably the best way to describe my experience with the book — I couldn’t seem to turn the pages fast enough! Well-written and introspective, Dean does a great job of getting the reader into his head.

The book profiles Dean’s search for that “something more” in life that all of us look for. For DK, that something more came in the form of seemingly unbelievable feats of endurance running. Confessions takes you right alongside with him throughout the entire experience.

Not only does Karnazes do a great job of talking through how he started upon his journey to become one of the most well-respected endurance athletes in the world, but he also does a great job explaining why.

As a runner how you started is usually pretty straightforward: “I Googled Marathon Training Plan”, “My buddy Joe bet me 50 bucks I couldn’t run a half”, “I started a couch to 5K program”, etc. But to sit down and honestly answer the why? That requires you to take a pretty deep look within yourself.

The book chronicles some of Karnazes’ most grueling races, including The Western States 100, Badwater and the “Inaugural” Antarctic Marathon, not to mention a look deep into DK’s personal life, thoughts, struggles and dreams. The book is encompassed by a well-detailed re-telling of one of the most challenging and personal races Karnazes had tackled to date.


There was one quote in the book that really struck a chord with me:

“Most dreams die a slow death. They’re conceived in a moment of passion, with the prospect of endless possibility, but often languish and are not pursued with the same heartfelt intensity as when first born. Slowly, subtly, a dream becomes elusive and ephermal. People who’ve let their own dreams die become pessimists and cynics. They feel that the time and devotion spent on chasing their dreams were wasted. The emotional scars last forever. ‘It can’t be done,’ they’ll say, when you describe your dream, ‘You’ll never make it.’ ” – Dean Karnazes

That quote really hit me hard and I remember after I read it I said to myself, “Don’t ever let that person become you.” Maybe I was crazy from the coast-to-coast flight, or maybe it was the complimentary wine – but I’d like to think it was because so much of the book resonated deeply within me. Never give up on what you want.

Informative, insightful and inspiring, “Ultra Marathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner,” certainly lived up to the high marks it’s received.

Nearly six hours later when the wheels touched down in Boston, I felt refreshed and reinvigorated about not only running, but about life. If you get the chance pick it up, it just may be the spark you need!


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