Retracing the Legendary Road to Sparta with Dean Karnazes Episode #97

Aaron McHugh


Dean Karnazes exudes life…to the fullest. At age 30, Dean discovered his feet were meant for running unimaginable distances instead of his former wing tipped polished leather shoes of Corporate America. Dean won’t taunt you with his stories of his expanding the boundaries of human potential. Instead, Constantine Dean Karnazes (Dean’s actual real name) will ask you this trite question in a piercing new way, “Are you happy?” 

Do what you love.

For Dean running is like drinking the nectar of the gods. Running makes juicy grapes grow on his life’s vine. He’s everything you’d expect from a good Greek- food, fun, joy and grit.

In this podcast, I asked Dean to share about his latest endeavor and new book, The Road to Sparta. He partnered with Dr. Paul Cartledge to create a historical first person account of the legendary story that inspired the world’s greatest footrace-Marathon.

Click to Listen to my interview with Dean Karnazes

The Spartathalon finish after 153 miles
The Spartathalon finish after 153 miles

Podcast highlights:

  • Dean is cooking up his biggest adventure yet, 203 marathons in 203 countries.
  • Find your impossible goal and go after it like a Spartan.
  • A trained runner, Hemodromo in Pheidippides day, could outrun a horse.
  • We know that Pheidippides died after running to Marathon, but that isn’t the whole story. He ran over 300 miles in total….not just 26.2.
  • Learn about the cultural story driving the champion culture of Pheidippides.

About The Road to Sparta

The Road to Sparta is a thunderous Greek epic told in parallel narratives from the perspective of a modern ultramarathoner and an ancient hemerodromoi (daylong runner). Dean Karnazes explores his own Greek ancestry while consulting with the foremost scholars on Ancient Greece to tell the story of the world’s first marathon, all while recreating the historic 153-mile run from Athens to Sparta in one of the world’s most impossible feats the Spartathlon.

In 490 BCE, Pheidippides ran a similar route in 36 hours to recruit the Spartans into battle against the invading Persians. In doing so, he forever preserved Western culture and gave to us the modern marathon. In recreating the ancient journey, Karnazes consumed only foods available in 490 BCE, such as figs, olives, cured meat and an early Greek energy source called itrion while he trained and prepared in traditional hoplite costume.

The Road to Sparta offers readers a rare glimpse into the mindset and motivation of an extreme athlete. It is sure to captivate and inspire readers whether they run great distances, modest distances, or not at all.

Dean's book The Road to Sparta
Dean’s book The Road to Sparta


Dean Karnazes at the Acropolis
Dean Karnazes at the Acropolis


Dean stretching out his legs
Dean stretching out his legs