Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner (Review)

Book cover for "Ultramarathon Man" by Dean Karnazes.Title: Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner

Author: Dean Karnazes

Narrator: James Yaegashi

Publication Year: 2006

Pages: 304 (audio length: 6 hours 56 minutes)

Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir

Source: Audiobook version purchased from Audible.com

From the cover:

Karnazes reveals the mind-boggling adventures of his nonstop treks through the hell of Death Valley, the incomprehensible frigidity of the South Pole, and the breathtaking beauty of the mountains and canyons of the Sierra Nevada.

This is the latest in a string of running memoirs I’ve read over the past year or so, and I mostly found it to be one of the better ones. In Ultramarathon Man, Karnazes mostly narrates his experiences running a variety of races, including an ultra-marathon up (and down) a mountain, and another across Death Valley. It’s less about running and the running community – though he does touch on these briefly – and way more about his personal successes and occasional failures with the sport.

There are definitely a few moments in the book where I wanted to call Karnazes’ bluff. For example, he tells a story about how he got (back) into running long, long distances … a story that involves coming home late after a night of drinking, putting his workout clothes and a battered pair of shoes on, and just running the distance of a marathon until he felt like stopping. With no training leading into it, and without having to stop. Sounds a bit farfetched, yeah? But there’s also something about the way he tells his story that makes me think that maybe, just maybe, these things really happened.

In the end, Ultramarathon Man wasn’t the best running memoir I’ve read, but it was still compelling and kept me interested while I was reading it. If you were going to choose only one, I’d probably suggest The Long Run: A New York City Firefighter’s Triumphant Comeback from Crash Victim to Elite Athlete or Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen instead, but if you’re a runner or you’re in the mood to read more than one, than definitely give Karnazes a shot.


2 thoughts on “Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner (Review)”

  1. He is fairly well-known, but also somewhat disliked by runners due to his extremism and self-promotion – he pounds out miles in search of a runners high like a junkie searches for their next hit- and enjoys alot of publicity with his stunts. It has little to do with the sport of ultra-running, but rather his own needs (to prove something?).
    Some more famous running reads include “Once a Runner”, “Running with the Legends” or the biographical “Running with the Buffaloes”. There is a huge amount of biographies and memoirs in this genre from jogger to elite.

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