Diary of an Ultra Runner: Dean Karnazes Shares His SF Marathon Experience


Every time I head to a race I set a goal for myself. It might be small (finish with a smile) or big (win my age group), but no matter what I put my mind to, being able to focus on that intention helps get me through the miles. And it can help you, too! Whether you’re doing a 5K or an ultramarathon, having a goal helps provide the motivation you need to keep going when you’re feeling tired or demoralized.

My objective for The San Francisco Marathon this past month was to have as much fun as possible. I participated in the ultramarathon (the SF Marathon is cool because it offers distances for every ability, from 5K to a 52.4-mile ultra), and I totally nailed my goal. Here, I’ll share my recap with you.

Midnight Met with the fellow ultra runners at the starting line. Snapped some photos, slapped some high-fives, flipped on our headlamps, and headed off into the night.

Ready to run the second leg.

Ready to run the second leg.

12:30am Several smaller groups of runners began clustering together, based on pace. Everyone seemed accounted for in one group or another.

12:45am Running through the Mission District, we were serenaded with cheers, jeers, and applause from throngs of revelers pouring out onto the streets from the neighborhood bars and nightclubs.

1:15am A group of invigorated partiers joined along running with us through Haight-Ashbury. Most were stumbling and falling trying to remain coherent, but the inebriated camaraderie was uplifting, nonetheless.

1:30am Skunk spotted in Golden Gate Park. Actually, multiple skunks, some with tails in the air! Altered route to avoid getting sprayed, and promptly got lost in the process.

2:15am After spending more than a mile attempting to navigate back on course, finally arrived at aid station two. Some were grumbling, but what’s an extra mile among friends.

Sun's up. Still smiling.

Sun’s up. Still smiling.

3:00am Foggy and damp along the coastline, though temperatures remained pleasantly comfortable. Not much wind, either.

3:30am After a long slog up to the Golden Gate Bridge, arrived at the final aid station for some overdue refueling and hydration.

4:00am Huffed it through Fisherman’s Wharf on the way to the end of the first marathon.

5:30am Regrouped at the starting line of the second marathon—at least for us ultra runners it was marathon number two. Watched Fitbit CEO, James Park, send the group off. Away I went with 10,000 other runners on the second loop of the SF Marathon course. Who needs rest?—endurance never sleeps!

9:00am Crossed the 17.1 mile checkpoint again. Looks a little different with thousands of other runners and the sun up.

Big fan of this guy.

Big fan of this guy.

10:35am Done! Crossed the marathon finish for the final time after a total of 52.4 miles and 9:30:21 of running. Things to do—can’t stop moving yet. Where’s the beer garden? Wait a minute, I don’t drink beer. My mind’s not working too well. Perhaps I should start drinking beer (HA!).

10:45am Stopped by the Fitbit booth at the finish festival. Love meeting runners of all abilities and sharing my thoughts on the sport.

Noon Finished showering after the completion of the second marathon (assure you, I needed it!). When all was said and done, I’d taken 104,776 steps since midnight. Not a bad days work.


Photos Courtesy of Gameface Media, Inc.



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