At his 30th-birthday bash, Karnazes, then a professional windsurfer living in San Francisco, ran out of the party and didn't stop until he had jogged to Half Moon Bay, 30 miles later. Since then, he's worked up to a 226.2-miler around the Bay Area in 57 and a half hours. His next goal is to run the Sierra's Western States 100 route, in the middle of winter.
The quintessential ultramarathoner, Karnazes takes exquisite joy from the fundamental act of the sport he describes as the zenith of endurance. "There aren't any distractions," he says. "You're focused on the goal of reaching the finish, and you either get there and succeed or you don't and fail." To get to the finish line, he employs a simple strategy: Think only about the present. "You've got to focus on micro-goals when faced with a big challenge," says Karnazes. "If you can't stand anymore, you say, 'OK, just get up.' When you get up, you say, 'OK, just make it to that stop sign up the road.' When you reach the stop sign, you say, 'OK, I'll get to that tree up the street.' That's how you run 200 miles."