Sunday, 6 February 2011

Ultimate Marathon Man - 365 in a year

Congratulations to Stefaan Engels, 49, who has just completed his 365th marathon finishing in Barcelona, having started a year ago on the challenge in his native Belgium.

Hats off to you Mr Engels, as an aspiring Marathon runner full of excitement and trepidation about tackling my first, the idea of running one every day for a year is a truly astonishing achievement that words can hardly justify. I'm planning to try and run 1,000 miles in 2011, this momentous run was over 9,500!!!
On average he managed around the 4-hour mark with a quickest of 2hrs, 56mins.  What an inspiring guy, more on his story, including details of his forthcoming book, can be found at: http://www.marathonman365.be

In his own words:
"I don't regard my marathon year as torture. It is more like a regular job. I am running just as Joe Average goes to work on Monday morning, whether or not he feels like it. I don't always feel like running, but when I am done, I take a shower, have some physiotherapy for an hour and that wraps up my day."  Stefaan


I hope Mr Engels will not mind me quoting him from his website, but I think his words sum up what a wonderful achievement this is and why he did it far better than my random typing could ever do...


Why 365 marathons?

"I now fully understand that a human being is capable of great things." A. Kusada
Dear all,
365 marathons in 365 days. That is what I am aiming for. That is my goal. I didn't just accidentally choose the quote mentioned above. Akinori Kusada is a 65-year-old man from Japan who conquered his spot in the Guinness Book of Records in March 2009 by running 52 marathons in 52 days. That was 1 more than his 48-year-old predecessor from Italy. So Kusada is the man I want to dethrone.
It is undoubtedly tempting to attribute my plan to a crazy mind that might as well have suggested beating the world record of chimney-sitting. I have heard all that before. I heard it for the first time on a June night in 2007, when I told a few friends how I wanted to break the world record of long-distance triathlons. A year later, however, I had completed twenty of them. I had secured my spot in the Guinness Book of Records. 'Yes, I can.' became the title of the book.
So am I superman? Certainly not. Rather than having super powers, I suffer from asthma and my body is that of a 40-year-old. But I still succeeded. It was an eye-opener to many. In times when practical obstacles increasingly disappear, the biggest obstacle is right between our ears.
Which is why my message is: dare to change your life. Don't be afraid to chase a goal that requires leaving the path on which you risk getting stuck. Preferably a goal related to sports because that will bring you some result. A more active life results in a healthier body and a sharper mind, ingredients for a more qualitative life. More people picked up on my triathlon story. I searched for and found one hundred folks who did not exercise but were motivated. For six months they would be working to take up a sportive challenge. Obviously, it wasn't going to be a long-distance triathlon, but it did encompass half a marathon, four kilometers of swimming or the mythical Alpe d'Huez. Feelings of doubt were plentiful, but each and every one of the participants wanted to go for it. And lo and behold, in that hot summer of 2009 most of them achieved something that had previously seemed unthinkable and unattainable. Yes, we can.
Exercise deficiency may be persistent, but so am I. With my new attempt to set a world record I want to take it even further, and make it more spectacular. In order to spread my message even more and to inspire more people.
In 490 BC a certain Pheidippides would run more than 40 kilometers from Marathon to Athens to inform the city that the Persian army had been beaten. According to the most familiar version, upon pronouncing the word 'nenik├ękamen' (we have won) he collapsed and died then and there. In 1896, during the first modern Olympic Games, about 10 athletes ran again from Marathon to Athens. The marathon was born.
In 2010, I want to be the MarathonMan. Just like Pheidippides I want to run marathons to bring a message. And I invite everyone to get some exercise and come run with me for a little while.
Just do it!
Sportively yours,
Stefaan
So there you have it, a great story and an inspirational man. Hope you don't mind the huge direct quotes, but I'll be buying your book on April 7th when it comes out, so trust that makes up for it.

Oh, and in case you didn't already know, in 2008 he set the record for the most long distance triathlons (3.8km swim, 180km ride, 42km run) in a year at 20!! What a dude!

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