In from the cold
By Dave Flanagan
“The penguins had to be my favourite,” says Dean Karnazes, when considering his highlights of The Last Desert 2008. “They were so playful and curious. I just loved them!” Even super tough ultra-distance running legends have a softer side, it seems.
There aren’t many places Dean hasn’t run – he’s travelled to all seven continents twice - but there’s no doubt Antarctica has made one of the most lasting impressions on the 47-year-old Californian. He first ran there in 2002’s South Pole Marathon, returning six years later for the culmination of his 4 Deserts campaign.
“It was absolutely breathtaking,” says San Francisco based Dean, author of best selling book, Ultramarathon Man. “Antarctica is one of the most remote and pristine places on earth. The raw beauty is awe-inspiring.”
The fact Dean seems to remember only the great scenery he saw during The Last Desert 2008 (and of course those penguins), rather than the physical discomfort he experienced in the event, is simply a reflection of his positive attitude towards life in general.
During The Last Desert 2008 he had to battle against the unexpected side effects of a sea-sickness medication, but he toughed it out to finish in 4th place, claiming that year’s 4 Deserts Championship in the process. He also shared the honour of becoming the first person to complete all 4 Deserts events in a single year with South African Paul Liebenberg.
For those preparing to take part in The Last Desert 2010, Dean has some very good advice.
“Do your homework,” he stresses. “Have the right gear, equipment and clothing. Try to test this stuff extensively before the event. Also, prepare for a long and perhaps rough trip to the frozen continent. Your overall endurance will be tested like never before, and you’ll love every second of it!”