HOKA Runner Wins World Marathon Challenge
The World Marathon Challenge is a physical and logistical competition where runners attempt to complete seven marathons, on seven continents, in only seven days. While this sounds like a fool’s errand of the first degree, 33 crazed competitors took the starting line in early 2017 — and HOKA One One athlete, Michael Wardian, was the outright winner.
His ORANGE shoes of choice? The Clifton 3 (for training) and the Bondi 5 (for competition).
The physical challenge is obvious. Athletes run a total of 183 miles in just one week, but the logistics are equally daunting.
Starting at Union Glacier in Antarctica (a few hundred miles from the South Pole), runners eventually globe trot to subsequent marathon races in Punta Arenas (Chile, South America), Miami (USA, North America), Madrid (Spain, Europe), Marrakech (Morocco, Africa), Dubai (United Arab Emirates, Asia) and finally, Sydney (Australia).
Athletes cover a lot of ground with their legs, but they also earn some air miles. From the starting line in Antarctica to the finish line in Australia, they spend nearly 60 hours in the air, traveling almost 24,000 miles by the time it’s all over.
The flights are chartered, but that makes it no less impressive. Combine exhaustion-from-exertion with fatigue-from-flight and you can see why only a handful of athletes take their mark. You can see why even fewer actually finish.
Yes, not everyone crosses the finish line, but Crazy Does. Wardian crossed with time to spare. With an average completion time of 2:45:57, he placed first in each of the seven races and broke the three-hour mark at every location (including Antarctica where he ran 2:54:54, despite frigid windchill temperatures of -22ºF).
Of the three World Marathon Challenges that have been held so far, his 2:45 pace shattered the former record of 3:32. And he did it at 42 years old, against fierce competition that included a former U.S. Olympian, Ryan Hall.
Wardian isn’t just someone who runs, he’s a runner. He ran a marathon PR of 2:17:49 at the 2012 U.S. Olympic trials, a 135-mile ultra in Death Valley and a 150-miler in the Sahara desert. And because this world record feat at the 2017 World Marathon Challenge was such a walk in the park, do you know what he did when he crossed the seventh and final finish line in Australia?
He went for a casual 20-mile cool down run, just to make sure his mile tally for the week rounded to a nice, even 200.