March 8, 2011

This Sport Needs An Enema!

Can somebody tell me what kind of a sport we compete in when somebody dressed up as a [insert here] gets all of the press?

One of the most interesting things about ultra running is the lightening rod effect Dean Karnazes has on the sport.  The guy is not considered by many to be an elite runner in the sport (although he has won races) yet he attracts more attention than most if not all of the “elite” runners.  What is the beef here?  Dean makes money in a sport that is not considered a money maker?  Or is it just the media attention?  Since money follows the media my guess is its all about the money.

Which brings me to this post. For those ultra runners who complain about Dean, you should stop for a second to remember that every company selling you products is making money off of you!  That’s right, you!  PROFIT. Take a look at Montrail for a minute.  Glance through their “team” member websites.  Everyone of them – hook, line and sinker – is pitching the product.  They're even pitching the Montrail website!  So who is in it for the money?  Why do we have sponsors in our sport?  Why do runners seek sponsors?  For the money! Is there a line between sponsored “elite” runners and Dean?

Of course ultra runners that win the races should get most of the media attention and the money. But when you think about the general population who think running 100 miles is a throw back to Forest Gump and read People Magazine for the news, are you surprised they don’t?

Like the Joker once said, “Never rub a man’s rhubarb".

Yes of course I would like your comments! 


Asha said...

I don't know much about who you're talking about-- but I love the title of this post and your approach to the issue. Nice one.

Rachel said...

I'll admit that I'm not a fan of Dean, but you make some good points! Certainly a thought-provoking post.

Unknown said...

I have this love hate relationship with Dean. I read his books (I even read them to my son at night). But he kills me with his self promoting, over the top stuff. He is obviously incredible at what he does and I guess a super ego must come with that talent. There are a few Ultra Elite Runners that I hang out with around here and they are pretty crazy, so if the media really wanted to focus on some mohawk wearing, multi color hair styling, crazies they could. I think it has to do with promoters and how well they promote their races (or promo runs).
I even wrote a blog post about Dean recently:

Unknown said...

Dean's book inspired me to become an ultra-runner. He's formed his passion into a money making business. "Do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life"...

Arrogant or not, he deserves credit for his ability to inspire.

I'd like to get paid to train :-)

Charlie Nickell said...

The bottom line is, Dean wrote a fantastic, best selling book and with some incredible timing with the Endurance 50, Karno became a running household name. In business, it’s not about who’s the best, it’s who is the best at attracting numbers. Something the archaic ultra world is pathetic at. I think people forget that Dean has won Badwater and the Vermont 100. If I did that, I’d consider myself to be an elite runner and have a statue made in my honor. With his large audience, good looks, speaking ability and huge quads, he’s marketable. Geoff Roes and Anton Kuprika are awesome guys and incredible runners but seriously, they wouldn’t work on some national media deal. Dean, whether you like it or not, is the complete package. Maybe some of it has gone to his head (how could it not) but its a tough world and if he’s happy, then I’m happy for him.

True ultra runners don’t judge, they trudge:)

Lain said...

It seems like every sport has someone like Dean. Someone who attracts media, and hence attracts interest in the sport. Both good and bad. Like him or hate him he will attract people to the sport and as such there will be more races(good thing) and more problems(not such a good thing). I think its part of the growing pains of Ultra running as a sport. At least Dean has competed in longer races and won some. Its not like he is famous for being famous and took up ultra running

Hone said...

I think it is cool in our sport to rag on Dean and hate him.

I didn't even know Dean but that didn't stop him from coming up and hanging out with me and my wife in Furnace Creek a couple years ago the day before BW. He was very down to earth and nice. Just a regular dude.

As for the companies...I think it is hilarious when people walk around wearing shirts with big company logos and names on them. What has that company ever done for you? You are just another sucker giving free advertising to a company that ripped you off when you paid 30 bucks for the "North Face" t-shirt.

Unless I get a discount on the product I never rock their labels (unless they are tiny) in public. I think that is why I wear basketball shorts and go shirtless at all my races.

It seems the past couple years at ultra races it has become cool to look like a Nascar driver. I guess it is better to lose pretty than win ugly.

Okay bro, I am done ranting. Also I know I suck at running so my opinions are crap.

Painfully Normal Girl said...

He does bring a certain energy to the sport, that is for sure. And his books are quite motivating themselves. Good or bad, publicity is good for creating awareness of our great sport.

People are always going to hate the "big thing" because of jealousy or because it is cool to be fans of the uncool/unknown or because of whatever other reason they have.

I will also admit that I am not a fan, but only because I have always had trouble with idolizing people I don't know. I definitely don't hate him. I can only respect what he is trying to accomplish.

Anonymous said...

I don't run to make a living, but I suppose if i could I might consider it. DK does, and he has managed to create a nice little living by promoting himself, his beliefs, his stuff. Can't fault him for that. He can be down to earth, flys coach...he sat next to me on a southwest flight to Oaktown. I did not know who he was but I shared with him about the last marathon I ran with my daughter. He said he would love to be able to do that with his daughter someday. We talked about shoes and overall nice flight. When the plane landed and he jumped up and started handing out glossy cards with his picture on them, I was kinda turned off...found out who the guy was...but it's cool, he's gotta make a living too. I sell construction consulting if anyone is interested...Buddah Joe

RunnerinLV said...

I thought by the title I was getting sage advice....damn.
As far as Dean goes, you raise a question I often think about whenever I see his name in the media or on another book.
FOr the elites, I guess I can understand them being upset and for him sullying the purity of the sport.
However, you read all advice in the world on how to be happy with your job and it all comes down to one thing. Do what makes you happy and then find someone to pay you for doing that job. I can't fault the man for doing what most of only dream of doing.

Anne said...

Dean seems like a nice guy...surrounded by an excellent marketing crew. Good for him I say.

BTW, thanks for your encoragement Will! :)

Wyatt Hornsby said...

Interesting post. I used to be very critical of Dean but, with his latest book (which I recently reviewed on my blog), I've come to realize that he's a pretty good guy. And I think I've come to realize a few other things, such as....

When considering whether or not Dean is elite, it's important to understand that the word "elite" can mean many different things in the world of running. If elite means fast, then, no, Dean isn't elite and he'll tell you that straight up. If your definition of elite is a guy who's won some very long, extreme-condition races (such as 4 Deserts, Badwater, etc.) because of his extreme endurance, then, yes, Dean is elite. Elite doesn't just mean one thing. Ryan Hall is an elite marathoner. Geoff Roes is an elite ultramarathoner. Geoff would get smoked by Ryan in the marathon--just as Geoff would smoke Ryan in a 100-mile mountain race (though the latter would get a fair amount of push-back from some). Ryan's an elite marathoner, but not an elite 800-meter guy. You get my point.

At any rate, I can't be critical of Dean when he's running across the US to bring awareness to an issue that is near and dear to my heart--combatting obesity and especially childhood obesity. I take issue with Dean on a few things, but overall I think he's a good guy and who among us wouldn't love to have his North Face sponsorships, book deals, fame and wealth?