The human body is capable of far more than what we ask of it in an average day. While we’re all quite good at stiffly walking to the fridge and coffee pot, some people like to push a little further. Or a lot, like Colin O’Brady, who became the first person to cross Antarctica on foot, by himself, in 2018, according to the Willamette Week. Or Stig Severensen, who managed to stay submerged in water for 22 minutes without oxygen.
Then there’s Dean Karnazes, a world-famous endurance runner, who ran 350 miles in 2005… without stopping. According to Runner’s World, his goal was “to test the physical limits of his body while raising money for childhood organ donation.” All things considered, he had no chance of failing, because even if he died trying, the world would have a pretty impressive set of organs to make use of. Thankfully, Karnazes didn’t die during his 80 hour, 44 minute journey, he just lost a bunch of toenails, chafed a lot, and kept almost getting hit by cars since he could hardly stand up.
Karnazes started in Northern California while his family followed in an RV, helping keep him supplied and generally alive. During the run, Runner’s World checked in with him repeatedly, offering some fascinating insight into an experience no one had ever had.
Putting the “Kraze” in “Karnazes”
Day one was nothing out of the ordinary for Karnazes, who has made headlines in the past for his ability to run while he sleeps. Day two began to take its toll. He was hot, dehydrated, and really wanted coffee.
On day three, he reported: “I’m in Petaluma in Northern California about 200 miles in. I’m still standing. My feet hurt the worst. I have blisters on top of blisters. I think I’ve lost four or five toenails—poor little guys.”
Day four the sleep running began, but he also started weaving in and out of traffic, so it was decided he’d head for Stanford University’s track to run the last 50 miles. At mile 340 he reported, “Finishing this is as close to an out-of-body experience as I’ve ever had. Earlier on, the pain always brought my mind back, but for these last ten miles I’ve felt totally disassociated from my body.”
Needless to say, his soul remained tethered to his corporeal form and he finished, immediately going into hypothermia and passing out. How’d he feel three days later? “I feel like I’ve been in a train accident. Every single cell hurts.” Sounds about right. Karnazes would go on to state that he felt 500 miles was possible, but it might take “a better runner than me.” Like Superman?
Longer runs have been completed, like the 3,100 mile “Self Transcendence” race, according to CBS. But so far, no one has topped Karnazes’ insane, ceaseless feat of the feet.
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