As Dean Karnazes ran along Hawaii Road five miles south of Moran Sunday morning, he found the wide open spaces of rural Allen County much more inviting than facing off against semi-trucks on U.S. 54.
Karnazes, an ultramarathon runner, is going coast to coast, having started in southern California Feb. 25.
Two buses, home to Karnazes’ crews and with colorful graphics, were parked outside the Best Western Inn, 1315 N. State St., Saturday evening. That Karnazes was in his room, sound asleep well before dark, was understandable. He runs 40 to 50 miles a day and is up by dawn, if not before, each day to tackle the next stretch of road.
Sunday morning he started at Humboldt and tracked east on Central Street (George Road) before skipping half a mile north to Hawaii. He had pavement under his feet until it turned to crushed rock about eight miles southeast of LaHarpe.
He remained on rock into Bourbon County and on to the east.
Unpaved county roads aren’t that much of a challenge, said Karnazes, who has run on many surfaces, from blistering desert sand to snow and ice.
Some care must be taken where loose rock is thick, said Kevin Tobin, a member of his crew, to keep from sliding and losing footing, but it is a pleasant change of pace from running along a highways where large trucks and other vehicles whiz past dangerously close at 65 to 70 miles an hour.
Sunday a strong south wind buffeted Karnazes but wasn’t particularly troubling, he allowed, coming from the side as he ran to the east.
By the time he completes the run in mid-May, Karnazes will have covered about 3,000 miles, not extraordinary for a man who once ran 211 miles non-stop on a treadmill over a 48-hour period.
The run will conclude during a segment of “LIVE! with Regis and Kelly.” He is teaming with the morning TV variety show to inspire Americans “to get up, get active and get healthy.” Additional focus of the event is to encourage kids to be active and avoid obesity.
AS HE RUNS LIVE’s viewers are following Karnazes’ challenges and triumphs. The show is covering his journey each day through live and taped portions, as well as an ongoing blog on the show’s website and tweets and photos from the road.
Five-kilometer runs organized along the route — participants run with Karnazes — benefit Action for Healthy Kids through proceeds raised. Allen County had none.
“This is an incredible opportunity for us, to be working with a role model like Dean Karnazes on such a positive effort: encouraging fitness, fighting against childhood obesity and hopefully inspiring our viewers to live healthier lives,” said Michael Gelman, executive producer of “LIVE! with Regis and Kelly.”
RUNNING AND other forms of individual exercise have been a part of Karnazes’ life since he was a tot.
He grew up in Los Angeles and ran to and from school starting in kindergarten. By age 11 he had hiked rim-to-rim across the Grand Canyon and had climbed Mount Whitney, the highest mountain in the contiguous United States.
He was introduced to long-distance running in junior high school, but quit in high school. After a 15-year hiatus, he resumed running at age 30.
Karnazes, 48, has completed many endurance events, including 50 marathons in 50 days and running 135 miles nonstop across Death Valley in 120 degrees. At the other end of the weather spectrum, the once ran a marathon to the South Pole where the temperature was 40 below zero.