Miles to go before he sleeps: Ultramarathoner stops in SLO

Some people don’t run 350 miles in a lifetime let alone straight through.

That’s just one of many seemingly crazy things ultramarathon runner and Cal Poly alumnus Dean Karnazes has accomplished in his life.

Karnazes, who ran the 350 miles without sleeping over the course of three full days, was back in San Luis Obispo at Art’s Cyclery on Wednesday to speak with those interested in testing the limits of the human mind and body.

“On that third day the hallucinations were very vivid,” Karnazes recalled. “I even saw dinosaurs out in the distance.”

Karnazes, 45, rolled into San Luis Obispo on a new hybrid bike creation called an Elliptigo. The bizarre looking creation combines the stepping motion of an elliptical with the chain and wheel mechanisms of a bicycle.

He is riding the Elliptigo from San Francisco to Los Angeles over the course of four days in a cross-training effort before running a marathon once he arrives down south.

The nearly 500-mile journey is small potatoes to Karnazes, who was the subject of a 2008 documentary after he ran 50 marathons in 50 days in 50 states.

About 100 people turned out to see Karnazes on Wednesday, but he said we shouldn’t expect to see an ultramarthon runner ever break into the national spotlight.

“(Ultramarathons) will always be a niche,” Karnazes said. “Running has experienced a resurgence, so there are more and more people running marathons. The future of running is bright. The future of ultrarunning is also bright — just on a smaller scale.”

Karnazes has now set his sights on an even bigger challenge than ultrarunning. He plans to run a marathon in every country in the world over the course of one year.

The United Nations recognizes 204 countries according to Karnazes, so he will have 365 days to run 204 marathons while traveling around the world.

The planning and logistics for such a venture have taken Karnazes more than five years to iron out. He said he has had to spend extensive time working with the state department to get the proper permits to travel into countries like Afghanistan and Iran.

While Karnazes has already run on all seven continents including a marathon at the South Pole, he said he sometimes missed just being back on the Central Coast.

“I just don’t get back here enough,” Karnazes said.