Dean Karnazes Is The Ambassador Of Greek Tourism

Photo Jun 28 2017 8 44 37 PM e1709644851406

Dean Karnazes is a renowned figure in the world of ultramarathons, known for his extraordinary feats of endurance. His story is one of remarkable perseverance and passion for running. Karnazes has pushed the boundaries of human endurance, completing numerous ultramarathons that go far beyond the traditional marathon distance. His book, "Ultra Marathon Man," provides a glimpse into his incredible journey and the challenges he has overcome. Karnazes' dedication to running and his ability to conquer extreme distances have inspired many to pursue their own goals and strive for greatness in both sport and life.

Photo Jun 28 2017 8 44 37 PM

How do you feel about the honour of being appointed as the Ambassador of Greek Tourism and what are your goals and aspirations in promoting sports tourism, physical wellness, and the Greek Mediterranean diet during your two-year tenure?

As you can imagine, I am deeply honoured to be serving in a role that promotes Greece. Being a global traveller and having traveled extensively throughout Greece and experienced all that Greece has to offer, I firmly believe there is no better place on earth for outdoor activity and sports tourism. Of course, the food and the Greek Mediterranean diet play a big role in elevating Greece to a number one destination for healthy, active travellers. It is all of these things combined that make Greece so unique and special.

Your connection to Greece is deeply rooted with your father being from the Peloponnese and your mother from Ikaria. How has your Greek heritage influenced your approach to ultra marathoning and overall fitness?

My Greekness has influenced my approach to both athletics and life overall. I’ve studied classics and researched the origins of the marathon and ultramarathon extensively (both of which have their origins in Greece), and I put all of these practices to use when I train, complete, and live my life in general.

As a frequent traveler throughout Greece, could you share some of your favorite locations and experiences in the country that you believe showcase the best of Greek sports, wellness, and cuisine?

When people ask me where is my favourite place in Greece I always smile. I have no one favourite place, as Greece has everything you could imagine: beaches, mountains, beautiful lakes, culture, history, etc… The Peloponnese is special because of my paternal bloodline. I really like Messinia, the Mani Peninsula, Kalamata, the Taygetus mountain range, Pylos and Olympia. Ikaria holds an endearing place in my heart because of my maternal ancestry. And if you haven’t been, Ikaria is a unique culture in itself! Everywhere in Greece you find food that is locally grown and harvested. To me, that is the basis for great tasting and nutritious cuisine. When it comes to sports and wellness, the natural splendor and the celebrated lore of Greece are both inspiring and awe-inspiring. After all, Greece is the birthplace of the Olympics and the Marathon. I promote this fact wherever I travel throughout the world.

Having run 50 marathons in 50 consecutive days in all 50 US states is an incredible achievement. Can you describe the physical and mental challenges you faced during that journey and how they shaped your perspective on endurance and resilience?

This accomplishment was as much a mental challenge as a physical one. I was attempting to do something no one had ever done before and many people—including myself at times—doubted it would be impossible. I trained diligently going into the endeavour, both physically and mentally, and had the confidence of knowing that I was well prepared. Then I just took it one step at a time and tried my best at every moment. How do you run 50 marathons in a row? “Βήμα βήμα” as the Greeks say (step by step).

You've been recognised by TIME magazine as one of the "100 Most Influential People in the World." How do you leverage your influence to inspire others, especially in the realms of sports, fitness, and overall well-being?

People don’t care about distinctions, they care about actions. I live by my ethos of being the best animal I can be in everything I do. We find inspiration in those that are true to their word. I do not take shortcuts, I do not make compromises, I work hard and I live the values I promote. That is what inspires me.

Your experiences include running 135 miles nonstop across Death Valley and a marathon to the South Pole. What motivates you to undertake such extreme challenges, and how do these experiences contribute to your overall philosophy on life?

I love pushing the boundaries of human endurance and the human spirit. Running extreme distances in the most extreme environments on earth is invigorating to me, I love the challenge and I love the conquest. Just like a war, running is a war within yourself. You want to stop, you must stop, but somehow you dig deep and find the courage and resolve to keep going. In so many ways, these extreme endeavours are a microcosm of life.

As a motivational speaker, what key messages do you aim to convey to your audience, and how do you believe these messages can positively impact individuals seeking to improve their physical and mental well-being?

When you distill it down, my message is simple: physical health is the most important attribute a person can possess. Without physical wellbeing, nothing else matters. Only when you respect and take care of your body can you achieve true ευδαιμονία (eudaimonia).

Carrying the Olympic Torch is a prestigious honour. Could you share your thoughts and emotions during those moments, and how do you believe sports play a crucial role in connecting people and cultures?

I have had the honour of carrying the Olympic Torch twice, once in my adopted homeland of San Francisco and once in my ancestorial homeland of Greece. Carrying the Torch in both locations brings the Olympic spirit full circle, from the ancient to the modern. To me, sports and athletics unite people in a special way that is universal and singular, especially running. There are so many things in this world that divide us—be it the color of your skin, the language you speak, the God you worship or your socioeconomic level—but when we run together we are all equal; sports and athletics are a commonality we all share and it unites people rather than dividing us.

Your achievements extend beyond athletics, as you are a bestselling author. How does writing about your sports and personal experiences complement your role as an Ambassador of Greek Tourism, and what impact do you hope your books will have on readers?

Starting with Homer, the Greeks were great storytellers. I pride myself on being a good writer as writing is difficult and impossible to master. People relate to stories, and telling interesting and intriguing stories about Greece, our history and our land, are part of what I do as the Ambassador of Greek Tourism. Of course, with the rise of social media so much storytelling is visual and online. I’ve embraced social media as another tool to help showcase all the splendour Greece has to offer. 

Being a recipient of the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition Lifetime Achievement Award is a remarkable accomplishment. How do you plan to use this recognition to promote a healthy and active lifestyle further, both in Greece and internationally?

Such accolades help elevate my status as a lifelong advocate of healthy, active living and good diet. Some of my mentors and people I admire have also received the award, people like Jack LaLanne and Arnold Schwarzenegger. But having someone of Greek ancestry receive this distinction is important, for the pursuit of physical excellence was paramount to the ancient Greek way of living. We Greeks are the origin story and having me as a representative is both an honor and an obligation that I take very seriously. Receiving the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition Lifetime Achievement Award inspires me every day to stay true to my values and principles. I want to be a positive role model in this regard until the day I die. And I am committed to doing just that.

Copyright Greekcitytimes 2024