Dean Karnazes and David Goggins

I don’t want this post to be a controversial one. 

I do want to highlight some amazing things that have been achieved by two of the more controversial athletes in the ultra world: Dean Karnazes and David Goggins.  Why are they controversial?  I don’t really know.  I guess because they do not fit the norm, because they attract a lot of publicity and because they have helped to bring the underground world of ultra running more into the public eye.

Dean Karnazes

Karnazes is perhaps the more well known of the two.  Many will have read, or at least heard about, his book “Ultra Marathon Man”. 

Dean Karnazes

Dean Karnazes

Dean, or “Karno” as he is known to his friends, has achieved some amazing feats. 

He ran a bit as a teenager (probably about the same as me and about the same level).  Then he did nothing until his 3oth birthday when he ran 30 miles in his gardening shoes after a fairly boozy night.  Hmmm – this sounds a bit familiar…

Like Goggins, below, Karnazes is motivated, so he says, solely by raising money for his charitable foundation.   Karno Kids is a non-profit organization whose mission is to support, encourage, and motivate youth to get outside and become physically active and to restore and preserve the environment.

He won Badwater in 2004 and the Vermont 100 in 2006.  He has run 350 miles in 80hrs 44 mins without stopping and recently ran 50 marathons in 50 days in 50 states.  He has also run 148 miles in 24hrs on a treadmill – a record which I would love to smash!

Badwater 2008

Badwater 2008

Dean’s detractors state that he is purely a self publicity machine and that he doesn’t actually win many races even with only national competition. 

My personal belief is that the Karnazes publicity machine is producing a lot of money for charity.  That is a good thing.  There are, however, many better ultra runners in the USA than Dean.  He does not deny this.

David Goggins

 Goggins is a US Navy Seal.  Whilst they are clearly not a patch on British special forces  😉  , they are pretty good. 

David is 6’1” and 190 pounds.  Not the typical build for an ultra runner.  Compare his physique to that of William Sichel, who is 5’5” and about 128 pounds!  He is the only person in history to have successfully completed training with the Navy SEALS, US Army Rangers and the Air Force’s Tactical Air Controller unit.  He is also the only person to have completed the SEALS’ infamous Hell Week on three separate occasions. (The third time because he felt his first two efforts were soft.) He is a driven man. 

David Goggins during the Badwater 135 mile ultra

David Goggins during the Badwater 135 mile ultra










Goggins would finish an unbelievable fifth in his first race at Badwater, raising a considerable amount of for the Special Operation Warrior Foundation, a charity that provides full college scholarships, financial aid and counselling to surviving children of military personnel who were killed in an operational mission or training accident.

He returned to Badwater in 2007, finished third, knocking over four hours off of his time of the previous year. His work with the Special Ops Warrior Foundation keeps him motivated.

“We put 266 kids through college last year. And that’s what keeps me going. I’ll be honest, I don’t like running. I don’t like biking. I don’t like swimming. I do it to raise money. But, now that I’m in this sport I want to see how far I can push myself. What makes me tick is that pain you feel when you do these ultramarathons. I love knowing that everyone’s suffering because I know I can suffer just a little bit more. I can take a lot of pain.”

Goggins daily schedule..... (!)

Goggins' legendary daily schedule..... (!)

Just some food for thought…..


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5 Responses to “Dean Karnazes and David Goggins”

  1. mjroosevelt Says:

    Nice post. As a marathoner (2:57) I cannot even imagine the things that go through these guys’ heads on runs.

    Check out my post on Goggins when you get a chance:

    Also, if you could add me to your blogroll/link me, that would be great.

  2. bodytransform Says:

    Good luck! Maybe the 5000km one in New York is a worthy goal after that!

    • Tom Says:

      I thought that maybe that was the one you were referring to!

      That… is nuts. Might have to wait 18 years until my children have left home before I get permission for that race.

  3. bodytransform Says:

    Hey Tom. Fascinating stuff. When I ran with Lisa she mentioned these two guys. I am always inspired by feats of outright strength and courage! How can David Goggins only sleep 3 hours?!
    Are you running Sri Chimmoy? Have you done that before? That event looks amazing. And nuts!

    • Tom Says:

      Hi Phil,

      Yes I’m running the Sri Chinmoy 24hr race in Tooting Bec, London in Oct 09. First time attempt at 24hrs. Hoping for 140 miles – but that is a real stretch target.

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