The most famous ultramarathon runner in the world

We would like to know a few things about your life. Where did you go to school, how was your childhood and if Greece was a part of your everyday life, even though you were abroad

I was born and raised near Los Angeles and attended Greek school at Saint Sophia Cathedral. I was also active in GOYA (Greek Orthodox Youth of America) and spent summers at Greek camp. Those were some of the most fun and memorable days of my life as a child.
Which is the town or village where your parents were born, have you ever been there?

My mother’s family comes from the island of Ikaria and my father’s family is from a small village near Tripolis called Silimna in Arkadia. I recently had the pleasure of visiting Silimna and meeting many of my relatives. It was quite emotional and touching. That was my first time in Greece.
You are what we call a typical Greek family, following the traditions etc?

Very much so. The Greek’s that came to America kept many of their Greek traditions and my family was proud to be Greek-American.

What does running mean to you?

Running, to me, is the ultimate freedom. It is the purest form of sport and the most raw and beautiful.

How difficult was it for you to reach the status you are today? The way to the top is very hard and has many obstacles

Because I am doing that which I love, my ascension to prominence has not been much of a struggle. When you love what you do it comes effortlessly.

If I asked you to choose the top moment at your career, which one you’d pick?

Although I have raced and competed on all 7 Continents of earth, in some of the most remote and extremely places on the planet, by far my most treasured moment was running a 10 kilometer race with my daughter, Alexandria, on her tenth birthday. Nothing will ever surpass that moment.

You stopped running for a rather large period. What made you start running again and reach the level you are today? Is it a matter of goals and personal limits?

My passion for running left me when I was a teenager and so I stopped. The passion didn’t come back until many years later. Once the passion for running returned, it was stronger than ever. Although I set goals, I’m mainly just following my heart and doing what I love.

You ran 50 marathons within 50 days, each in a different state of USA, how difficult was it mentally and physically? What should we expect of you at the future?

Half of what I do is physical, the other half is mental. The human body can only carry us so far, but the human spirit is tireless.

There are always greater challenges to be had, greater adventures to endeavor upon. As much as I’ve accomplished, I still have future dreams for the future. So starting in 2015 I’m planning on embarking on a global tour to complete a marathon in every country of the world in 1-year. There are 204 countries and my intention is to run a marathon in each and every one of them in the span of one spin of the globe.   Running a marathon in every country of the world is my next dream, and I have learned that with enough hard work and perseverance, dreams can come true!
In which country that you never ran until now, are you dreaming of running?

I had never run in the Messenia region of Greece before and it was magical. The coastline near Pylos, Costa Navarino and Voidokilia Beach was one of the most enchanting places on earth I have ever run.
 Time Magazine named you one of the most influential people of the world, whereas Men’s Fitness named you one of the most fitted people. What are your advises concerning the diet and fitness?

My advice is to be Greek. Not Modern Greek, Ancient Greek. Make exercise, fitness and health a top priority in your life, just as our forefathers did. Eat a traditional Greek Mediterranean diet and avoid fast food all together and also eliminate manmade processed foods that come in a bag. This is what I have done and my performance and health has never been better.
You have already created your own family, would you like your children to follow your steps?

Not necessarily. I want them to follow their own passions. If that is not running, so be it. I want them to be happy and follow their own dreams.

Do you follow the news concerning Greece and the economic crisis?

The Greek economic crisis has been difficult for me to watch. I feel the pain of the Greek people and it is disheartening to see such hardship. I know Greece can persevere through this challenge and I will do all that I can to help support the Greek economy and the Greek people.

Coming for Navarino Challenge was your first time in Greece. Do you have a favorite place?

Every place I visited was delightful. Tripolis, Silimna, Ancient Messania, Kalamata, Pylos, they were all amazing. The two places that really captivated me were watching the sunset at the Acropolis and swimming at Voidokilia Beach!

What does Greece mean for you?

Greece is for lovers. Greece is for dreamers. Greece is for poets and philosophers. Greece is for wanderers and those looking for more to life. Greece is a place you discover a natural beauty that will take your breath away. But, mostly, Greece is a place you discover yourself.
Navarino Challenge was a challenge to run for fun is this the way you run?

Many times I run for competition, but this is only something a few elite athletes can do. Most people run for fun, and the Navarino Challenge was designed as an all-inclusive event for people to run together and to support one another for the pure joy of running and human camaraderie. Everyone I spoke to who took place had a wonderful time.

Can Greece be a place for people coming to run?

Greece is a great place for running and sports tourism. The Navarino Challenge proved this point. Next year will be an even bigger and more spectacular event. I hope that more people will join me in 2014 and discover the joy of healthy, active living and running.

 If you could address a question to all Greeks, what would you like to ask them?

Who has the best grilled octopus? I love grilled octopus and nowhere is it better than in Greece. I also love halva, so any recommendations there would also be appreciate!

Famous Greeks

The most famous ultramarathon runner in the world

Constantine Karnazes is a Greekamerican ultramarathon runner, and author of Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All Night Runner, which details ultra endurance running for the general public. Karnazes has been described as «the world’s most famous ultramarathon runner». The ultramarathoner was born on August 23, 1963 in Los Angeles  to parents of greek descent. He began to run from a very young age, when he was still in kindergarten, so that- – he argues- he would not tire out his mother, who had to walk him to and from school.

Constantine Karnazes began his run from California’s Disneyland on February 25, and arrived in New York on the 11th of May, having passed through 16 states and the the District of Columbia. At the end of the route, he was welcomed by his wife, Julie, and his 13-year-old son, Nikos.

«It’s been a dream of mine for 75 days to be standing right here» he said to the american media immediately afterwards, adding that the best part of the run was «coming into the studio, seeing my family, finally knowing I actually made it». He also mentioned that his aim was to promote the idea and philosophy of keeping fit among Americans, and especially young people, encouraging them to fight against obesity.

Constantine Karnazes covered 40 to 50 miles a day, running 8 to 15 hours daily. During that time, he used over 50 pairs of shoes, and made 177,865 dollars for Action for Healthy Kids, a non-for-profit organization against child obesity and malnutrition. Referring to the conditions he faced, he stated that they were pretty harsh, due to the changing weather and the ground’s morphology.

«The end of the first day», he said, «I was destroyed. I thought, «How am I going to do this for 74 more days?» It had been so easy to talk about it, but after that first day it hit me: the enormity of what we were about to undertake. Then I told myself, «Get up in the morning and try your best. You may or may not make it, but your commitment is to try your very hardest.»

The legend of the marathon, promoter of » fair play » and a great personality with great acceptance in the U.S., assumed the role of Navarino Challenge ambassador, which took place in three different routes, starting on 18 October 2013 Silimna village of Arcadia, the birthplace of the family of Dean. A journey beyond the sporting interest had moments of emotion , as Dean was found for the first time in Greece , meeting also the Greeks relatives for the first time .

As part of his visit to Greece to participate in Navarino Challenge team organised an interview with him.

Read the interview below: