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# Super Human Challenge
# S-U-P-E-R. #
Running is fun...
..and a great way to keep fit.
But, sooner or later...
..we all have to stop.
Imagine a man who could run for ever.
He would be a real life superhero.
A superhero like Captain America, with amazing fitness, stamina
and endurance, who can run for ever.
And I've heard of a real man with unbelievable stamina.
A man who is so strong,
he can run and run and run without ever getting tired.
When Dean Karnazes was 30 years old,
he discovered he could run without ever getting tired.
Known as Ultramarathon Man, for the last 20 years
he has pushed his body to unimaginable limits.
He runs in extreme temperatures without breaking a sweat and,
amazingly, he has run for 350 miles,
day and night, without stopping.
Is Dean Karnazes a real life Captain America?
Tim has travelled all the way to
California in the USA to find out.
And this is him - the man himself!
Dean, thanks so much for meeting me, it's a real pleasure.
-How did you discover you had this incredible stamina?
One night I walked out at 11 o'clock
at night, and started running,
and ran straight through the night
and ran 30 miles in seven hours.
I thought, "How did I just do that?"
That was the night, yeah.
So can you run for ever?
I can run for a long, long time.
I don't know about for ever, but a long, long time.
OK, we would like to measure your superhuman abilities
by putting you through three different tests,
and measuring you against a very average guy - me.
Would you be up for that?
Let's do it, yeah, I'm in. Let's go.
This is Dr Megan John.
She's an expedition doctor and has kept people alive while they've
attempted some of the most dangerous activities you could imagine.
She's created three Super Tests to try to find out
if Dean Karnazes really is a Super Human.
For my Super Test One I've brought the two of you to
the University of California's Elite Performance Lab.
I'm going to be seeing how your heart and lungs
cope with really tough exercise.
I hope you both like cycling, cos today you're going to be
pedalling till your legs turn to jelly.
Cycling? I thought you were a runner?
-I'm a runner. Are you a cyclist?
Who said anything about cycling?
So, the two of you are going to take it in turns
to pedal on this bicycle.
Might sound easy, but it's been pre-programmed to get harder
and harder and harder for you.
I'm going to be measuring the amount of oxygen your muscles
are using for the exercise.
At some point, your body's going to reach its limit
and then it'll be game over for you.
That's what we call your VO2 max,
ie, the maximum amount of oxygen
your body can use during exercise.
Sounds fun to me - let's try it.
Come on, boys, let's get on with it.
The VO2 max scores differ depending on your age and Megan wants to
see how Tim and Dean compare to the average scores for their age groups.
Tim is 36 years old and the average
VO2 max for a man of his age is about 45.
Dean is 50 years old and the average for his age is about 32.
During the test, Megan will also be
keeping a check on their heart rates,
to make sure they're not in danger.
Now, this is going to get really, really tough, guys.
It's going to get tough because when you start exercising
you breathe harder and your heart beats faster.
You get really hot and you begin to sweat.
Your body struggles to get enough oxygen,
so soon your muscles will start to ache.
If your heart beats too fast, you could get dizzy or faint
and eventually collapse.
In really extreme cases,
you could have a heart attack
Tim Fitzhigham, part man, part machine, ready to be tested
for certainly one minute,
hopefully a little bit longer.
Yeah, well, fingers crossed, Tim.
Now, the oxygen we use comes from the air.
Air is made up of many different gasses,
so Tim and Dean will need to breathe through a special tube, so that the
equipment can measure exactly how much oxygen their bodies use.
-So you won't be able to talk to us during the...
You've been waiting for this, haven't you?
Tim is taking the test first,
with Dean climbing on for his test straight afterwards.
-OK, you can go ahead and start pedalling.
Right, we are starting the test now.
Before the test, Tim's heart rate was 62 beats per minute
and his VO2 was ten.
As he begins to exercise, his heart starts beating faster.
So Tim's heart rate's already up at about 120 and we know
his resting level's about 60,
so he's about double that already.
You're doing really well, Tim.
-Good to go?
Before the start of Dean's test, his VO2 was much lower than Tim's,
at only six, and his heart rate was lower too,
at only 40 beats per minute.
With exercise, his heart starts to beat faster, but it's still
only about the same as Tim's before he'd even started exercising.
Dean's heart rate's going about 66,
so he's really nice and relaxed.
After three minutes, it's getting tougher to pedal the bike.
Tim's VO2 is quite low at 20,
but his heart rate is getting faster.
-Heart rate's just creeping up towards 130, now.
After three minutes, Dean's heart rate is still amazingly low
at only 89 beats per minute -
that's over 40 beats slower than Tim's.
His VO2 is the same as Tim's, at 20,
but remember, an average 50-year-old should only be able to reach 32,
and he's getting quite close to that already.
All the data's showing me
that actually Dean is finding this much easier than
Tim was at the same point.
You can hear the breathing deeper now.
Tim's breathing is getting faster as his body tries to get as much
oxygen as possible into his blood.
Oxygen gets into your body
through your lungs
when you breathe in.
The oxygen then moves into your blood.
Your blood travels to your muscles, which use
the oxygen in a chemical reaction
with sugar to make energy.
So the more your muscles move,
the more oxygen they need.
It's six minutes into the test and Tim is beginning to struggle.
Channel your focus and keep going.
You're doing really well.
Keep you legs going. You need to keep the pace up, OK?
Dean's VO2 is now at 32.
This is the point where most 50-year-old bodies would
start to max out with exhaustion.
Keep going, Dean. Keep those legs turning.
But Dean's body is still going strong,
and his heart rate is remarkably low at 109.
Dean's body is working really, really hard
but he's still looking pretty comfortable in himself.
Tim's heart is working much harder
and has risen to over 140.
He is working really, really hard.
We can hear his breathing, we can see,
ooh, heart rate's going up and up and up.
The harder Tim makes his muscles work,
the faster blood has to be moved round his body.
This is done by the heart.
Your heart is a pump that sits in your chest
right between your lungs.
Your heart pumps blood to your
lungs, where your blood picks up
lots of oxygen.
This oxygen-filled blood then
goes back to your heart to be
pumped all round your body,
to the muscles that need it.
Eight minutes into the test
and Tim's muscles are needing all the blood they can get!
His heart rate is 172 beats per minute and his VO2 is 37.
Now, remember, an average 36-year-old will have
a VO2 of 45, before their bodies max out and they have to stop.
I'm getting caught by your sweat.
Eight minutes into Dean's test and his VO2 is at 43.
This is 11 above the average for his age
and he's still going strong.
Dean's still not sweating.
At this point I was getting splattered by Tim.
So, sweat is your body's way of cooling itself down.
When your muscles use oxygen and sugar to make energy,
the chemical reaction gives off a lot of heat.
Your brain can tell that your body's getting hotter,
so it starts trying to cool you down.
So, it sends a signal to your sweat glands
that are all over your skin
and tells them to start sweating.
You cool down because heat from your body,
which was making you feel hot,
is now used up to dry the sweat.
Come on, well done.
Keep the legs pumping. Pumping, pumping, pumping.
It's nine and half minutes into the test and Tim's heart rate is
at a critical 183 beats per minute
and he's reached a VO2 of 45.
This is the point an average body of his age gives up through exhaustion.
Come on, Tim. You're racing yourself, now,
no-one else, it's just about you. Keep going.
-Another increase is coming up. Come on!
-Come on, Tim.
You can get through it. You can get through it.
Keep going, keep going, keep going.
Well done, well done.
With a VO2 of 46 and a heart rate of 183, Tim has had enough.
At just after the point Dr Megan predicted,
Tim's body can't carry on, after ten minutes and ten seconds.
Keep going, Dean, you're doing really, really well.
Keep those legs pacing round.
I know it hurts, but channel that. Use the pain.
Nine and half minutes into Dean's test
and his heart rate is at 156 beats per minute,
and he has a VO2 of 46 -
a staggering 14 above the average.
-Keep going, Dean, keep going.
-Keep going, keep going.
Keep going, keep going.
Keep the legs moving, keep them moving,
keep them moving, keep them moving.
It's really hard, this.
But at this point, Dean's bike has had enough!
After ten minutes, Dr Megan has to end the test.
I think the RPMs wound down too slowly.
The bike must have just shut down.
The bike had had enough of you.
So, at the end of the test, Dr Megan can tell Dean is no average human.
After about ten minutes, Tim had reached his VO2 max of 46,
one above the average.
But ten minutes into his test, Dean had a VO2 of 50...
..five higher than Tim's had been at the same point,
and an incredible 18 higher than the average for his age.
TIM: 'It is important to keep fit and healthy, but in some places
'in the world, it can mean the difference between life and death.'
The San people live in the Kalahari Desert in South Africa.
When hunting, they run after their prey
through some of the hottest and driest conditions
on the planet until the animal collapses from exhaustion.
These gruelling endurance chases can last
over eight hours before the hunt ends.
Our ancestors used the same method before weapons were invented,
but it's so difficult that the San people are
the last tribe on earth to hunt this way.
For the second Super Test, Dr Megan, Tim and Dean
have taken to the hills overlooking San Francisco Bay.
In Super Test One, I was testing your heart and your lung function.
For this one, I'm going to be looking at the muscles.
Super Test Two is a race up this two kilometre long
steep hill and will test how well
Tim and Dean's bodies supply oxygen to their muscles.
Halfway up the hill, Dr Megan will test them medically
before they carry on to race to the top.
When your muscles are going to get your body up that steep hill,
they'll be requiring a huge amount of oxygen.
Your heart and lungs are going to do their very best to get
enough oxygen to the muscles, but at some point -
and this will happen even for you, Dean -
they just won't be able to keep up.
When you exercise hard, you breathe faster,
but eventually your muscles run low on oxygen.
They start to hurt and feel like they're burning.
You'll feel tired and dizzy.
You might even faint or vomit.
Eventually, your muscles will stop working all together
and you'll collapse.
OK, boys, now you're relaxed,
I'm going to get your lactate levels, OK?
As usual, Dr Megan will be monitoring them.
She's measuring their heart rates,
and also how much acid is in their muscles with a lactate test.
This lactate test tells Dr Megan
if there's not enough oxygen getting to their muscles.
We always have some lactate in our bodies,
so she needs to see what their normal levels are
before the race, so she can see how much it goes up.
-So your lactate when you're at rest, Dean, is 2.0.
-So, Dean was 2.0, you were 3.4.
-So I'm a bit higher than Dean.
These results are what Dr Megan would expect from Tim and Dean
before exercise, but she wants to see what happens
to their bodies when they start running.
TIM: You've got cold hands, doctor.
OK, boys, I'll count you in.
Three, two, one. Go!
Both Tim and Dean start the race side by side,
but as the hill gets steeper,
Dean starts to break away from Tim.
At this point, Dean's heart rate is only 140,
while Tim's has shot up to 160 beats per minute.
Tim's body is already starting to struggle as the race gets harder.
Running uphill is tough on your muscles,
and Tim's leg muscles are starting to hurt.
This is because muscles hurt
when they use too much oxygen.
Your muscles use oxygen and sugars
in a chemical reaction to make energy.
But when you're exercising hard,
your muscles use oxygen so quickly
they run out, so they start to use
the sugars by themselves.
Now the chemical reaction
creates energy and lactic acid.
Although your muscles will still work,
without oxygen they don't work as well.
Eventually, the lactic acid causes pain in your muscles.
After four and a half minutes, Dean reaches the halfway point.
He's barely out of breath and he's smiling.
-Well done, Dean. Borrow a finger?
-OK, off you go.
But when Tim arrives a minute and a half later,
he's not smiling.
His muscles are burning and he's so out of breath
he's barely able to speak.
-Off you go.
Oh, my goodness...
Dr Megan is amazed by the results.
After running for one kilometre, Tim has a lactate reading of 16.9,
but the level of lactic acid in Dean's muscles
is unbelievably low, at only 3.7.
Eight minutes into the run and
Dean is getting close to the top.
His heart rate has risen by ten beats,
to a comfortable 150 beats per minute.
Tim is 250 metres behind Dean
and his heart rate is beating dangerously fast,
at 180 times a minute.
After ten minutes and 45 seconds,
Dean crosses the finish line.
He still looks fine and his heart rate
is only beating 151 times per minute.
Almost two minutes later, with muscles aching,
Tim finally finishes.
His heart is racing at a dangerous 184 beats per minute.
You look like you're tired.
Yeah, a little bit tired.
So how does Dean do this?
Dean's body doesn't make much lactic acid.
This is because he's got more
red blood cells than an average person.
Red blood cells carry oxygen,
so he has more oxygen in his blood than normal.
He also controls how hard his muscles work,
so they don't use up oxygen too quickly and run out.
This means his muscles don't make much lactic acid
when he's exercising, as they always have the oxygen they need.
So Dean can run all day long,
without suffering from painful muscles.
TIM: I found that running challenge tough,
but it's nothing compared to what happened
to brothers Justin and Jeremy Harris.
They were out hiking along a canyon
in Utah in the USA
when Justin slipped
and broke his leg.
With only hours left until dark,
Jeremy ran for help,
but he took a wrong turn down another cliff
in the opposite direction.
After an astonishing 20 hours
running and hiking,
Jeremy made it to a campsite
and called for help.
His refusal to give up and
extraordinary ability to keep running
saved his own life
and that of his brother.
For the final Super Test,
Dr Megan, Tim and Dean
have travelled to a desert
called Death Valley.
It's not for nothing this place is called Death Valley.
It's one of the hottest and driest places on Earth.
Even just standing out in the midday sun can kill a man,
and I'm not going to ask the two of you to just stand,
not even just walk.
But I'm going to ask you run...
Run all day? Out here?
-Can you do that?
-I'm up for the challenge, you up for it?
-Let's give it a go.
-I've never even run a marathon.
-Come on, guys. Let's try.
-Let's do it.
Dr Megan has marked out a three kilometre long course
for Tim and Dean to run around.
They will start running just after dawn,
and will only stop when their bodies give up.
Dr Megan wants to see how long they can run for and throughout
the test she'll be checking that they're not in danger.
The heat and the dehydration potential here in Death Valley
poses a real risk of heat stroke,
a potentially fatal condition.
If at any point either of you feel you can't continue,
or I think you're in critical danger,
the test ends then and there.
Doctor Megan has a medical team on stand by,
plenty of hydration drinks and a cool room
should the heat get too much for Dean and Tim.
This does not sound fun. Why do you do it?
There's magic in misery.
It'll be a lot of misery, but there's some magic in it
and I think you'll experience that today.
Think the two of you are ready to go?
It will be challenging, but I think we can do it.
-Let's give it a try, let's go.
Throughout the test, Doctor Megan will be
closely monitoring Tim and Dean's heart rate and lactate levels.
OK, so I'm out here in a place so hot you can fry and egg on a rock.
I've got my special hat, my special glasses
and I'm going to try the longest run of my life against you.
-OK, boys, are you ready to go?
Three, two, one,
off you go!
Halfway through the first lap,
Dean's heart rate's going
about 117 beats a minute.
-That was a good warm-up lap!
-You go, Dean!
Making this look extremely easy.
Tim, on the other hand,
heart rate now 172.
I mean, it is steaming hot here.
In fact, even at 8.15 in the morning, it's already
an incredible 32 degrees centigrade.
That's hotter than a really boiling summer's day in the UK.
Tim, you are doing really well!
Is there anything you want me
to have ready for you when you get past?
Liquid. OK, so if you saw that,
Tim can't even talk to me to tell me. He's having to demonstrate.
I don't expect you to talk to me but I'll just run along with you.
You're doing really, really, really well. It is steaming hot.
I think we should have made this one a relay.
-Take it slow and steady and keep going.
Tim's able to hold a conversation with Dr Megan,
so even though his heart is beating extremely fast,
at 172 beats a minute, she's happy to let him continue.
He still seems fresh. It's extraordinary!
Are you able to pause for a second
-for me to do a lactate?
Yeah, I mean, it usually takes about four or five hours
-for me before I start feeling like I'm actually going, so...
Thank you for checking on me, though. You're doing a great job!
With two laps in, Dean's chatting to me completely normally
and comfortably and phenomenally his lactate level is 3.3.
After nearly an hour,
for Tim it's a different story.
With a heart rate of 182 beats per minute, he's obviously
struggling, and Dr Megan is beginning to get a bit worried.
Tim is barely moving.
We've got the medical van just metres behind him.
You can see Dean sprinting off into the horizon.
I know from all the monitoring we've got on Tim his heart is
working as hard as it can.
The reason he's really not being able to run is his muscles
are just swimming around in a pool of acid. Poison.
Dean said to me that as he passed Tim he spoke to him,
and he thought Tim was delirious.
That means Tim is no longer making any sense,
he's just talking nonsense.
I'm pulling him.
Tim, I've had a look at all the observations and we've had
a chat with Dean and I'm no longer happy for you to continue.
This is not safe any more, so I'd like you to stop here.
Get your arms up. Keep them up, keep them up.
Tim has had to stop running after one hour and 15 minutes.
His lactate level has doubled since the start of the race
and his heart is dangerously fast, at 182 beats per minute.
He is sweating and in pain,
and Dr Megan wants to get him into the recovery vehicle.
This is a nice cooled van to help with your recovery.
Outside the cooling room, Dean is still running
and making it look easy.
He still hasn't even broken a sweat.
It is really fascinating to see. His lactate level,
at the point at which I pulled you -
so he'd done the same number of laps as when
I pulled you from the test -
was still only 3.3.
Wow! Just look at the state of me!
And he's got the same lactate levels as I would have
if I was just in my bedroom.
At 10.20, the temperature has
already reached 37 degrees Celsius.
The sun is now so hot
that instead of taking off clothes to cool down, Dean has put on
some special lightweight clothes to cover up to avoid sun burn.
It's ten past one and Dean's been
running for over five hours,
but his spirits are showing no signs of dampening as he starts
a water fight with one of the film crew.
Got to have some fun, right?
Keep going, Dean!
Looking good, looking good.
Over seven hours in,
forty degrees in the shade, and the man's running in the sun
and he hasn't even broken into a sweat.
How do you get yourself mentally
to keep going through that?
I'm superhuman. We don't tire.
1.3. His lactate's 1.3.
Incredibly, Dean's lactate level is now half of what it was
before he started running.
And remember, Tim ran for just over an hour
and his doubled from 2.8 to 5.6.
I was out here running
for one hour 15 minutes.
Dean? He's still out here.
He's been running for over nine hours.
That's like you get up in the morning, you have breakfast,
Dean is already running.
You have lunch, Dean is still running.
You have your evening meal, Dean is still running.
And he's still going.
He doesn't seem remotely bothered by this incredible heat.
It's six o'clock in the evening and Dean has been running
for ten hours in the unbearable heat of Death Valley.
He has covered an astonishing 86 kilometres, he's not sweating
and he's not even tired.
86 kilometres, Dean.
I think it's time to call it a day.
I could keep going if you want me to!
I feel strong. I feel like I still have some gas in the tank.
That's absolutely incredible. You've done nearly 90 kilometres,
and you could just keep going.
It's phenomenal, Dean. Your lactate's still 1.3.
That's less than a normal person at rest.
You've not broken into a sweat.
I have never witnessed an athlete like you.
I'm just out here doing what I love.
TIM: I came to the USA to find a real life superhero,
a man, it seems, that can run for ever.
I found one.
Dean Karnazes, you are Super Human.
It's been a real honour running slightly behind you.
Tim, the honour's all mine.
I think you are heroic for coming out here in these
very dangerous conditions and doing what you did.
-Let's do it again.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Tim Fitzhigham meets the humans who defy science and puts their powers to the test - against himself. Tim meets Dean Karnazes, a man who has run 350 miles without stopping and completed 50 marathons in 50 days without breaking a sweat. But does Dean's extraordinary stamina make him a real-life Captain America?
Tim challenges Dean to three super tests in order to prove, or disprove, these amazing superhuman powers. Can Tim and Dean run and run all day in Death Valley - one of the hottest and driest places on the planet? This is exactly as dangerous as it sounds, so Tim uses state-of-the-art technology, real medical science and his very own mission doctor, Dr Megan John, as he prepares for his challenges.
Is Dean Karnazes a real-life Captain America? Be prepared to be amazed by Super Human Challenge!