Friday, 26 September 2014

Going for the Joggler: Half-Marathon Guinness World Record Attempt at Toronto Waterfront

The half-marathon joggling Guinness World Record may not attract the same kind of press as my marathon record, but the difficulty level is still about an 11 out of 10.

I've run a 1:23:49 joggling half-marathon in Montreal and a 1:24:32 in Burlington, Ont., but never registered those times with Guinness World Records. On October 19 at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, a representative from GWR will be there to certify records on the spot, so this time, it's going to be real.

In order to get an official record, Guinness World Records tells me I need to at least break 1:30, even though there is no current Guinness World Record in the books for the fastest half-marathon while joggling three objects. My marathon record is 2:50:12, so I'd like to run a sub-1:25.

Here's what makes the half-marathon joggling record a tough one: Maintaining a pace of about 4 minutes per kilometre (or under 6:30 per mile) is no small feat while trying to maintain a drop-free three-ball cascade. The pace eventually catches up to your brain and the last 5K or so are an absolute torture, maybe even more so than the marathon. With the half-marathon, you have almost no time to warm up and settle into a rhythm – it's just go go go.

I'm feeling good despite my advancing age (now in the masters category) and will go for the joggler and try to hit 1:22. My 1:24 in Burlington was in the winter, and I'm pretty sure the GoPro I had strapped to my head slowed me down. This time I'll be back at the favourite record-breaking marathon course and hopefully set a new Guinness record 10 years after my first one at the Toronto Waterfront race, when I pushed Annika in the stroller.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Basic Juggling Tricks

Here I am, not joggling, but these are some of the little tricks I like to do while I am joggling.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Joggling Beer Mile World Record (By Default)

I'm officially a choggler. A couple of weeks ago, I completed what I believe was the world's first ever joggling beer mile. The time was very slow. There was a humiliating penalty lap. But it happened.

Now all of you kids out there, don't try this unless you're of age. If fact, even if you are of age, the beer mile is not for everyone. And if my most recent result is any indication, it may not even be for me. 

The beer mile, if you don't know, involves chugging four beers, which must be 355mL and at least 5% alcohol (no shotgunning allowed), one before each of four laps around a 400-metre track, plus an extra 9 metres before the start to make a 1,609m mile. There's a penalty lap for vomiting.

As you know, I enjoy running while doing other things, so the beer mile has also had a special place in my heart. For the most part, it's been an underground pastime for runners who enjoy beer -- which, by my experience, is most runners -- but thanks to expat Canadian James "The Beast" Nielsen's recent record-breaking sub-5-minute beer mile performance, it's made the esteemed Wall Street Journal's front page.

Last year, I ran a decent 7:17 (VIDEO), putting me at 574th on's all-time top 1000 beer mile record list. I hoped to run and chug even fast this year, despite adding juggling into the mix, but too-cold beer and an off day for my chugging, left me gasping for air right from the start. Coordination became an issue by the third lap. The juggling pattern blurred and my tosses became more haphazard. In short, I looked like a semi-drunk guy trying to run and juggle, because that's what I was. I gagged just after finishing my last beer and suffered the indignity of a penalty lap, joggling in for a glacial 11:19 finish, more than four minutes slower than last year.

Still, it's a record, I think. The advantage of being the only one. Still, I think I need a do-over, so there's another one planned for September 19.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Joe Salter Sets Backwards Marathon Joggling Record

Joe Salter, the man who introduced the world to triathlon juggling, is back at it again. This time, Salter ran a marathon backwards while joggling. Check out his video from the Quad Cities Marathon, which Salter completed in 5:51 with two drops, the same number as my forwards marathon joggling record.

Thanks to Salter, I guess I now need to start specifying the forward part when I tell people about my record. And Wilson Kipsang also needs to be clear that he holds the world record for the fastest non-joggling, forward-running marathon.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Soon-to-be Guinness World Record for Joggling 800m

Success! Sort of.

I ran. I juggled. I didn't drop. I set what will likely be a new Guinness World Record for the fastest joggling 800m (pending verification) with a time of 2:15.61, but fell short of the overall best recorded time of 2:13.24.

It's important to stick your tongue out when joggling at high speed. Photo: Doug Smith.

Ontario Masters Athletics organized a special joggling exhibition race for me at the Relay Ruckus this past weekend at York University in Toronto. Since there were no other jogglers around and I had no pacer this time, I ran the race solo.

Under near-perfect conditions, I took off at a solid pace with a 64.5-second first lap – right on target. I was hoping to hold on for a 66- or 67-second second lap, but things started to fall apart with about 200 to go. At this point in an 800m race, you really need to dig deep and go for it with everything your body has to give, but when you add juggling into the mix, this becomes absurdly difficult.

The last time I attempted this record indoors, I dropped with 100 to go, and now that I've tried this a second time, I know why: the full-body fatigue messes with your motor skills. Juggling three balls is really easy standing still, but at this point I had to concentrate on every toss and catch as if I were just learning how to juggle.

I slowed down, but didn't drop, and crossed the line in 2:15.61. Now to send off my documentation to the good folks at Guinness.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Guinness World Record Attempt for Fastest Joggling 800m

Let's try this again, shall we?

On August 25, I'm going after the Guinness World Record for the fastest 800m while joggling. The unofficial record for the distance is 2:13.24, but Guinness tells me that there is no official mark logged with them. This means I basically just have to finish the thing, sort out my paperwork and video evidence, and I'll be guaranteed the record. Not a bad deal.

When I tried to break 2:13 earlier this year indoors. I dropped the ball near the end and never bothered to log my time as a record. The thing about drops is the more you think about them, the more likely you are to drop. So I'm not going to think about it.

What: Guinness World Record attempt for the fastest joggling 800m
Where: Toronto Track and Field Centre, York University, Toronto
When: Aug. 25, 12 p.m.
Open to public: Yes
Admission: Free
Kicking of joggler's balls: Not permitted

Friday, 19 April 2013

The True Champions of the Boston Marathon

Photo: Wikimedia Commons
The final stretch of the Boston Marathon leads to one of the most iconic finish lines in sport. Almost 26 miles into the 26.2-mile race, you make a final left-hand turn off Hereford Street and onto Boylston, and there in the distance, you can see the blue arches of the bridge that’s mounted above the blue and yellow finish line painted on the road.
I’ve run the Boston Marathon five times and this last quarter-mile always brings me to tears. Runners are often an emotional wreck this far into a marathon, but there's something magical about Boston, with its 117-year history, that brings out a powerful sense of being a part of something big.
When you cruise down that last straightaway, you can’t help but feel an incredible bond with the spectators who line the street on either side 10 or 15 people deep. Their cheering, clapping and high-fiving propels you through those final torturous strides toward your goal.
The two explosions that struck near the finish line at the 4 hour and 9 minute mark of Monday’s race hit densely packed areas of crowds – probably some of the same people who cheered me on the last time I ran Boston in 2011. And the thing about spectators in Boston is that they’re not just there to cheer on friends and family. This race has enough of a tradition that it brings out families, college kids, construction workers and just about anyone, to cheer on some 24,000 runners they’ve never met.
You might think it would be boring to stand on the street for hours watching people drag their tired selves through the end of a race, especially hours after the winners have come through, when the throngs of recreational runners come pouring in. But Boston Marathon spectators know better. They see the looks of determination on our faces. They know how hard we’ve worked to get to this point. They care.
If you’ve ever set your mind to train for any kind of athletic endeavor, you know how much it means to have other people recognize that commitment, and the marathon offers a unique experience to have thousands of people cheer you on as if you were a pro sports star. With 500,000 spectators along the point-to-point course, the Boston Marathon is the Super Bowl of amateur athletics, and as a runner the cheering crowds make you feel like you just caught the game-winning Hail Mary pass.
My best memories of approaching the Boston finish line are seeing the looks of excitement on the faces of all the little kids that I high-fived. It’s incomprehensible that one of those boys was killed. Some of the runners were injured in the blasts, but it was the spectators who suffered the brunt of the damage. They are the real heroes of the race.