‘Ultramarathon Man’ removed from race

Dean Karnazes, “Ultramarathon Man,” ran the Kauai Marathon on Sept. 1.

He completed the 26.2-mile course in 3 hours and 30 minutes.

He won his age group.

He finished in the top 20 of the field of nearly 300.

But you won’t find any record of that. You could have for several days after the event. Not anymore.

Karnazes’ name, place, time and age group finish were recently removed from race results. No sign of him anywhere in there.

The reason? Race director Bob Craver said organizers were unable to confirm Karnazes’ starting time.

Craver said the issue of Karnazes’ start time was brought to organizers’ attention by one of the timers several days after the race.

“After discussing with our timing company last week, we were not able to confirm Dean’s recorded start time so we all felt the correct resolution was to remove his unofficial time and to move everyone up,” Craver wrote.

Karnazes, contacted via email by The Garden Island, explained what happened.

He was six or seven minutes late to the starting line on Poipu Road due to an unexpected road closure that forced him to run a few extra miles to get there (TGI wrote about this in a Sept. 4 feature on Karnazes). When he arrived, the electronic mat that recorded runners’ starting chip times had already been removed.

So Karnazes did what he does very well: He started running, anyway.

“It was my fault for not arriving to the start on time, and I don’t blame anyone for this but myself,” he wrote Tuesday.

Karnazes is one of the hosts of the Kauai Marathon. He’s famous for his running exploits, including running 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days, running 3,000 miles across the nation and running 350 miles without sleep. He won the 135-mile Badwater Ultramarathon across Death Valley, considered one of the toughest races in the world.

He’s not known for blistering speed, but for his ability to run strong, steady and solid for literally thousands of miles.

He’s an author of three running books, a speaker, has raised funds through “Karno’s Kids” to improve physical fitness among youth, and is one of America’s most recognizable and popular runners. Go to a running expo, and if Dean is there, the crowd forms around him. He’s friendly and personable.

In the Kauai Marathon, after catching up to the crowd of marathoners and half marathoners, Karnazes ran with people nearly the entire distance.

“I started catching people by the first turn (some of the walkers) and pretty much was in the fray with others the entire distance from that point forward, so plenty of people saw me along the course.

“So I don’t think anyone can question whether I was actually there, and I alerted the officials of what happened. I tried to be as transparent as possible all along,” he wrote.

Craver said timers initially counted Karnazes performance — his splits on the course were recorded — and gave him a finish time based on the starting gun. But he had no starting chip time.

“But after we were made aware of it and its impact on the awards, decided to remove his time,” Craver wrote.

Karnazes won the 50-54 age group. His removal means Tony Phillippi of Tacoma won the age group in 3:39:21, Bill Buley of Lihue moves to second in 3:43:50, and Kyle Ono of Honolulu moves to third in 3:52:01.

Jeff Sacchini, Kauai Marathon founder, said the issue of Karnazes’ starting time was brought to his attention Friday by race timers.

He decided, over the weekend, that without the official chip starting time for running’s “Ultramarathon Man,” there really couldn’t be an official finish time, either. Therefore, Dean’s name, place and finish time had to be removed, Sacchini said.

He and Karnazes chatted about it by phone on Tuesday. He said Karnazes was OK with how the situation was handled and blamed himself for not allowing more time to reach the crowded starting line in time to get an official chip time.

“He’s a good ambassador of the sport,” Sacchini said.

Karnazes said the removal of his name, time and place from the 2013 Kauai Marathon results “doesn’t at all impact the way I feel about the race or the people.”

He said it’s the first time anything like that has happened to him.

“I will be back in the years to come and look forward to it as much as ever. The way I look at it, I got in a nice training run, chatted with some terrific people along the course, and even logged a couple extra miles running to the starting line,” he wrote. “I wasn’t trying to set any records out there or qualify for Boston or anything, I was simply out there to enjoy the race. And that I did.”


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