Belgian sets world record for marathon running

Thu Feb 10, 2011 5:53am EST
 
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By Eva Dou

BRUSSELS (Reuters Life!) - 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.   Continued...

 
<p>Belgian marathon runner Stefaan Engels (L) runs in Barcelona in this handout picture taken February 5, 2011. 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). He has also completed 401 marathons in as many days: 18 on a hand bike and the rest on foot, including 365 in a row. Picture taken February 5. To match Reuters Life! BELGIUM-MARATHONMAN/ REUTERS/Marathonman365/Petra Sap./Handout</p>