Tuesday, September 22, 2020

The Dean Spotlight in 2006 Kept My Run Across America Off The Radar

Dean Karnazes is an ultra-endurance runner who specializes in distances longer than the 26.2-mile marathon. In 2006, I ran 3,260 miles solo across America all alone -- pushing my gear in a jogging stroller. It was 30 miles per day across 15 states, coast to coast... or 125 marathons in 108 days. There were two names that popped up time and time again during my U.S. run... Forrest Gump and Dean Karnazes. I would often be compared to the fictional movie character Gump, and also asked if I personally knew Karnazes.

You see, back in 2006 as I was enduring the second hottest summer on record to cross the country and keep a promise to 97 elementary children, Karnazes was running 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days in a nationally-promoted event. That was also the year that he released a book, Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner, and won the Vermont Trail 100 Mile Endurance Run. He was also named Competitor magazine's Endurance Athlete of the Year for 2006. So, when the name "Paul Staso" was printed in some small-town newspapers as I logged more than a marathon each day, nobody had any idea who I was. However, they had heard of Forrest Gump and Dean Karnazes!

In 2006, Karnazes sent me an e-mail message telling me that I was an "inspiration" to him. As it turns out, weeks after I completed my U.S. run he attempted the same thing... a solo coast-to-coast run sporting attire and stroller very similar to what I used. However, he quit after 1,300 miles due to missing his family. No, Karnazes and I do not know one another personally. In 2006, he had heard about my solo run across America shortly after I had finished it and I had certainly heard about him. However, we were not in the same league from the standpoint of media coverage, financial endorsements, and popularity. In 2006, Dean Karnazes was the top name people were hearing about from the running world and I wasn't even a blip on the running world's radar.

I had run across America to keep a promise and to promote youth health and fitness, and it was also in 2006 that Karnazes would launch the non-profit organization "Karno Kids" -- with an aim of promoting youth health and fitness. It was challenging to get my message heard as it seemed like Karnazes' efforts were so saturating on the running community and in the media that I wasn't given a second glance. I remember feeling envious about the attention that Karnazes was getting while I was also pounding out extreme miles with generally the same purpose. I also started to feel that my efforts were futile in that I was relatively unknown as I ran in and out of communities across the nation. I knew that I wasn't going to get any sponsorship offers, any big-time media attention, or any finances to help me get my own non-profit organization off the ground -- The P.A.C.E. Fitness Foundation. I had conceded that those things were only going to go to Karnazes in 2006. Since then, I've let go of any envy and futility that I felt.

It has now been 14 years since I ran across America and was constantly reminded of Karnazes and Gump. Those who took a minute to ask me what I was doing often compared me to one or the other... and it seemed that most thought that Karnazes and Gump were better than I. Today, my journey across America is just a tiny footnote in a few articles and books about the challenge of crossing the continent. The few who heard about my 2006 run have no idea that I also went on to run solo across Germany, Alaska and the Mojave Desert. In short, I'm just a 55-year-old guy who from 2006 through 2011 accomplished some running adventures that few have ever attempted. I didn't make any money from it, didn't gain any lasting fame from it, and certainly am not being called to give motivational presentations about it. I'm just Paul Staso -- lovely Kelley's husband... father to four adult children... and, stepfather to four others. In all honesty, that's all I need.

From Him, Through Him, For Him (Romans 11:36),

Paul J. Staso

Visit my YouTube channel -- https://www.youtube.com/user/pacetrek

Click on any of the links below to see some of my adventure photos: