Marathon Man Stefaan Engels completes his last run in Barcelona—2/5/11

After writing yesterday about my inability to exercise consistently, here is an article by Eva Dou about a man who ran a marathon every day for a year to motivate people to exercise. Let’s hope this works for me…

BRUSSELS (Reuters Life!) February 10, 2011— People who run marathons often say one race a year is enough, both for body and mind. But that was never going to satisfy Belgium’s Stefaan Engels, who has just completed 365 marathons in 365 days.

Actually, even that wasn’t enough for Engels, who ended up completing 401 marathons in as many days: 18 on a hand bike and the rest on foot, including 365 in a row.

The 49-year-old from Ghent, northwest Belgium, is now the proud holder of the record for the most consecutive marathons, complementing his Guinness world record for the most triathlons completed in a year (20).

“It was a personal challenge,” he told Reuters by phone from his home this week, two days after completing his marathon odyssey. “I wanted to know if it was possible.”

He made it sound simple, but it was far from a straightforward “start running, stop after a year” challenge.

On January 1, 2010, Engels set out from Ghent to launch his campaign and ran the requisite 42.195 km (about 26.2 miles) on the first day. He kept up that pace for the next 17 days, but then a foot injury struck and he had to stop.

Quitting was out of the question, however. Engels bought a hand bike the same day and used his arms to propel himself through his daily marathons until his foot recovered.

On day 36—in a move that friends say is typical of the stubborn, asthmatic runner who was once told by doctors to avoid exercise completely—Engels announced he would reset the counter to zero and start the whole challenge again.

“People were saying, ‘You’re crazy, you’re throwing away 36 marathons,’” his friend Michael van Damme said. “But he was committed to running on foot all 365 marathons.”

Twenty-five pairs of running shoes later, Engels crossed the final finish line in Barcelona on February 5, completing a journey that has been compared to film character Forrest Gump’s epic run across the United States. As with Gump, local residents flocked to run alongside him wherever he went. Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,