On Wednesday, Dean Karnazes, an American ultramarathon runner, will begin a 12-day, 326-mile run along the Silk Road, part of an ancient trade route through Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. He’s doing it as part of the State Department’s sports diplomacy program — and because he really likes to run. Through the years, Mr. Karnazes has run 350 miles straight (with no sleep), completed a 200-mile relay race (by himself), run across Death Valley in the middle of the summer, and run a marathon at the South Pole.
Recently I caught up with Mr. Karnazes by phone at his home in Marin County, Calif., as he was getting ready to leave for his trip. He told me what interested him in the Silk Road (it was a stranger he met at the San Francisco Marathon), what traditional Greek food he’s taking along on his journey, and why, despite his extraordinary achievements, he’s just a bit worried about this challenge. Here are edited excerpts of our conversation.
Ten years ago, you ran 50 marathons in 50…