Interview: Runner Dean Karnazes invites all to join the ‘Lifestyle Movement’ named ‘Navarino Challenge’ in Greece
“Fun, family, fitness and friendship”, are just four of the reasons for one to participate in Greece’s multi-award winning sports tourism event “Navarino Challenge”, according to Greek-American ultramarathon man Dean (Konstantinos) Karnazes.
Supporting the “Navarino Challenge” event for the fourth year in a row as ambassador, Mr Karnazes this September will be in Messinia and Costa Navarino once again to raise awareness on the benefits of the Mediterranean diet and on the global issue of childhood obesity.
An internationally recognized endurance athlete, Mr Karnazes is a runner who in his career has covered 350 miles (560 km) in 80 hours and 44 minutes without sleep.
He invites all to be part of the “lifestyle movement” named “Navarino Challenge”, a movement that brings together people of all ages and abilities in a celebration of fitness and health.
- Which is your personal goal in Navarino Challenge and the other similar activities you participate in USA?
Dean Karnazes: There are parallel paths I follow as a runner. One is to compete at the highest level and enter the most grueling athletic contests on earth. The other is to give back to the running community and be a man of the people. The Navarino Challenge is an opportunity to be part of something bigger, a lifestyle movement that brings together people of all ages and abilities in a celebration of fitness and health.
- What could someone gain from his/her participation in Navarino Challenge?
Dean Karnazes: Fun. Family. Fitness. Friendship. Your goal could be to participate in the half marathon or to simply finish the 5K, but either way you’re guaranteed an exciting experience in a pristine and beautiful environment such as the one in Messinia and Costa Navarino.
This is the fourth year of the event. What is the feedback you receive from people? Which differences have you detected in these four years of the event?
Dean Karnazes: The enthusiasm is contagious. We have grown and expanded every year. People enjoy challenging themselves and moving outside their comfort zone and the Navarino Challenge provides such an opportunity. We have participants from all over Greece, Europe, the US and even Asia that have traveled to Messinia take part in the event.
- Which factors make the half marathon route of Navarino Challenge, an attractive route for the runners? What differentiates it?
Dean Karnazes: The new half marathon route is entirely along ancient pathways that are largely unchanged since the dawn of antiquity. There is no car traffic along the route and there are sweeping views of the mountains and of the sea. I have participated in running races across the globe and this is one of the most breathtaking and historic routes of anywhere on earth. Every runner follows the coastal road towards Pylos (and the trail mapped out by Telemachus in Homer’s years when he tried to find Odysseus) and discovers the mythical beauty of Voidokilia before he returns back to the finish line at Costa Navarino.
- Can Greece become an attraction for sports tourism at a global level?
Dean Karnazes: Yes. Greece has an iconic attraction and it is known as the birthplace of sports and the Olympic movement. It is somewhat ironic that in a country that has fallen behind in some ways, the Navarino Challenge is one of the most forward-looking, progressive sporting events on earth. I travel to events all over the world, and Greece is still the top destination. As a proud Greek, my goal is to serve as an ambassador for sports tourism in Greece and to help rebuild the economy by attracting more visitors to the country for outdoor sports and running.
- Regarding exercise, do you believe that “return to nature” is a solution to the problems of the modern man?
Dean Karnazes: I am very much a believer that returning to nature is good for both individuals and for humanity. It’s in our DNA, this is the essence of who we are, but we’ve largely lost touch with our bodies and with nature. There is a strong groundswell of people who are realizing this and are embracing a return to nature. I think this is a good thing and I have become happier and healthier since doing so.
- What are you most excited about coming up?
Dean Karnazes: My first book, Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner is being republished in Greece. I am looking forward to helping with promotions and meeting more of my fellow Greeks!
“Navarino Challenge”, organized by Active Media Group, returns this year with more than 18 sports activities, including running, swimming, tae kwon do, climbing, bike-riding, pilates, boccia, basketball, kick boxing, SUP (Stand up Paddling), golf, kids athletics, baby swimming, aqua aerobics, diving and dance lessons.
For more information on the event, press here.
GTP is a Strategic Communication Partner of the “Navarino Challenge” event.
*The interview of Dean Karnazes originally appeared in Greek-language Runner Magazine.