Friday, July 8, 2011

Meeting Dean Karnazes (07/07/2011)

It’s a funny thing when you meet someone that you are in awe of. A hero.

I met Dean Karnazes yesterday at the North Face store in Covent Garden, London. He was there on promotional tour for his new book RUN. When I say I met him I mean I went to the store, bought a copy of his book and spent a couple minutes chatting with him.

I heard that he was going to be there via twitter, checked it out and so made arrangements to go. I work in Surrey so it was a case of finishing work and then driving to London and not home. Easier said than done, more than an hour sat in traffic including the horrendous M25 (is it called that as that is the maximum speed you can hope to achieve on it?) a tube journey then a stroll. From leaving the office to arriving at the store took just over 2hrs.

I walked into the North Face shop and it was very quiet. As I approached it I thought I must have the wrong day or have missed it. There was a sign outside but nobody around. I went in, nervously asked the shop assistants and was told that the great man was around the corner.

I went around and was really quite nervous. I had no idea what to expect. He was there with a young lad signing books and talking about Wimbledon (Dean had tweeted that he had been to the men’s final the previous Sunday).

The first thing that struck me was how little he was. I said as much to the representatives from the publishers who made a joke that they had made him look much bigger on the cover of the book. I was expecting that he would be closer to 6ft and lean, he was actually shorter than me and incredibly lean.  

The younger lad finished and I stepped up with my book ready for signing. I shook his hand and told him what an honor it was to meet him, which it genuinely was. His book, Ultramarathon Man, has probably had more of an effect on me and my thinking around sport than anything else I have read, watched or heard. Until then I had no idea of the whole world of ultra running that existed. More importantly I had no concept that a human being could do that. I have since recommended that book to a load of people all of whom have been equally blown away by it!

He seemed genuinely humbled which makes me think I may have gone overboard a little. He then asked me about being a runner and what I was doing. There was then an exchange of banter around me being able to take him because he was small if only I could catch him! I then asked him about his running in London which he said he loved but struggled with the cars on the wrong side of the road. I told him I was planning to do an ultra next year and that was it. A couple of photo’s and another handshake and I was out of there.

Was it worth making the trip into London? Absolutely! I haven’t done anything like that ever before and although brief it was enjoyable. Dean was great, considering he had met so many people through the day he was smiling and talkative. Although 40 (me not him) I felt like a kid.