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  • Staff photo by BOB HAMMERSTROM


    Dean Karnazes can run almost as far as a car can go on a tank of gas. The marathon runner was in Nashua Saturday, April 14, 2012, at Runners Alley to take a jog with local runners, and sign autographs afterwards.
  • Staff photo by BOB HAMMERSTROM


    Dean Karnazes can run almost as far as a car can go on a tank of gas. The marathon runner was in Nashua Saturday, April 14, 2012, at Runners Alley to take a jog with local runners, and sign autographs afterwards.
  • Staff photo by BOB HAMMERSTROM


    Dean Karnazes signs autographs for 11-year-old Ethan Hostler and his father, Richard from Merrimack. The marathon runner was in Nashua Saturday, April 14, 2012, at Runners Alley to take a jog with local runners, and sign autographs afterwards.
Sunday, April 15, 2012

Nationally known runner stops in Nashua to talk marathon

NASHUA – Thousands of runners will take to the streets of Boston Monday for the marathon. But chances are only one will run the race twice.

Early Monday morning, Dean Karnazes, considered the world’s foremost ultra-marathon runner, will wake up, strap on his running shoes, and, rather than riding a bus, he’ll take a warm-up lap from his hotel, near the finish line in Copley Square, to the starting point, 26 miles away.

“I don’t like to get out on the bus and start running right away,” said Karnazes, who stopped in Nashua Saturday for a brief run before Monday’s marathon.

“So I’ll run from the finish to the start, and time it to get there about the time the (starting) gun goes off,” he said. “Then I’ll turn around and run back. ... It’s a good warm-up.”

On his way to Boston, Karnazes stopped in Nashua Saturday to meet with fans at Runner’s Alley, a running store on Coliseum Avenue.

Over his 20-year running career, Karnazes has completed marathons on all seven continents, including Antarctica. He trekked across the United States, running from his home in San Francisco to New York, and he ran a string of 50 marathons in 50 consecutive days, one in each state.

And, with his 50th birthday approaching, Karnazes shows no signs of slowing down.

After Monday’s race, he plans to run marathons in Nashville and Carmel, Calif. later this month.

“I wouldn’t call running fun, but it’s a special feeling,” Karnazes said Saturday before he set out for a four-mile jog through Mines Falls Park.

“You can really immerse yourself in nature, which I love. But, to me, it’s the discipline element, the solitude,” he said. “I’m very much an introvert by nature, so it’s kind of my way of decompressing, finding my soul again.”

Before he hit the road, Karnazes took a moment to talk about his career, his running feats and his sore feet:

Nashua Telegraph: So, were you born running? How did you become an ultra-marathoner?

Dean Karnazes: “It was bad tequila. ... I used to love to run when I was a kid. I was a competitive runner. I quit running for about 15 years, and then I was in a bar on my 30th birthday, celebrating with my buddies, doing what you do on your 30th birthday. Then at 11 o’clock at night, I just said ‘I’m leaving. ... I’m going to go running.’ ... So, I walked out of the bar and ran off into the night. I literally ran, stumbled 30 miles that night, and it changed the course of my life.”

Telegraph: What’s the toughest part of running?

DK: “Physically, it’s insane, but psychologically, mentally is where the real battle takes place. You can train, you can prepare, but the human form, the muscles can only get you so far. It’s unnatural, so that’s where the mind takes over.”

Telegraph: So, how do you win that battle. How do you keep yourself going? What do you think about?

DK: “You have fun with it. ... Your mind is free to be its own boss. You’re not bombarded with the media and everything else. Sometimes, you’re just thinking about getting to the next stop, because you’re in so much pain, so much struggle. Other times, you feel like you could run around the world. The highs and the lows can happen so quickly. You can go from feeling like superman to ‘God, I can’t make it to that doorway, I’m going to die.’ It can happen just like that. It’s pretty wild.”

Telegraph: You’ve run all over the world. Is there one run that stands out as your favorite?

DK: “I’ve done marathons on all seven continents twice now. Two ultra-marathons in Antarctica. It’s a lot different running to the South Pole. ... You’re 3,000 miles from the nearest human.”

Telegraph: What about Boston? What’s the best part about the marathon?

DK: “The crowds. The people. ... The last two miles, you can barely hear your heart beat. It’s insane. ... Plus, the free kisses (a tradition at Wellesley College, in which students offer kisses to the passing runners). What man doesn’t appreciate that?”

Telegraph: Finally, what advice would you give to young runners who are just starting out?

DK: “Start at the feet up. Come to a good specialty running store and get a good pair of shoes. ... It’s going to cost some money, but you’ll be comfortable when you run. You’ll help prevent injuries, and when you’re feeling lazy, you’ll be looking at these $150 high-tech running shoes sitting in your closet, and you’ll feel really guilty. You spent all that money and they’re not being used.”

Jake Berry can be reached at 594-6402 or jberry@nashuatelegraph.com.