Saturday, 10 October 2015

Tossed Out: No Joggling Allowed at New York City Marathon

Say it ain't so, New York City Marathon. Joggling is now forbidden at the race under a recently established set of security rules that prohibit the use of props. I had been training hard for the past four months for what I had hoped would be my biggest joggling event ever -- an attempt to break my own world record at the largest marathon in the world.

It was not to be. I got an email from one of the race's PR representatives letting me know that "the use of props, which would include juggling during the race, is not permissible at the event."

Banned beanbags
My three little beanbags have unfortunately been tossed in with a series of banned items, which were set in place as part of a beefed-up security protocol after the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. Other prohibited items on the list include: firearms, knives, Mace, drones, survey balloons, mini-copters, fireworks, explosives, toxic chemicals, and selfie-sticks.

The great Salt Lake City Marathon joggle-off between me and Zach Warren.

So I'll be leaving my 2 1/4-inch, millet-filled, spherical security risks at home and transform my marathon juggling self into a normal, non-joggling marathon runner on November 1. If you look closely at me on race day, you might notice that I'm actually juggling invisible beanbags (which I hope are allowed)! And no, I will not be documenting my race with a drone or a selfie-stick.

It's a shame that New York has abandoned its long history of supporting joggling. About 25 years ago, legendary NYC Marathon race director Fred Lebow invited former marathon juggling record holder Albert Lucas to run NYC while joggling, telling Juggler's World (yes, that's a real publication), "I see joggling as only positive ... We don't have a joggling division yet, but you never know what can happen." Joggling also made the front page of the New York Times a few years ago with a great article by Sara Beck, "3 Beanbags and 26.2 Miles." It's sad to see that Lebow's thoughts of a future joggling division have been extinguished.

Here's what I think: If I can check into a hotel with a mobile app as I run at high speed while juggling, I should be allowed to joggle the NYC Marathon. But that's just me.

On the bright side, I have some exciting joggling plans for 2016, at a marathon that welcomes beanbags with open palms. 

Friday, 3 July 2015

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Mean Tweets: Fastest Marathon Juggler Edition

When you're billed as the world's "fastest marathon juggler" in a U.S. national network TV campaign, people say bad things about you on Twitter. Here's a collection of the best ones (there were many many more). I left out the nice tweets because they weren't as funny (sorry, nice people).

I need to make a motivational poster out of this one: "How about you try juggling not being a complete loser."

P.S. Follow me @mkapral.

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Behind the Scenes at the Fairfield Inn and Suites #StayAmazing Shoot

So I was just going about my business trying to be the best running juggler person I could be, and next thing I knew I was in California to shoot a national TV commercial for Fairfield Inn and Suites by Marriott. The campaign, with the tagline "Stay Amazing," brought together three of us with exceptional (and exceptionally offbeat) skills: me as The Joggler, "Mighty" Kacy Catanzaro, the amazing American Ninja Warrior, and Rocky Byun, the world's most well-balanced balancing artist, from Korea.

Here's the teaser for my commercial:


And Rocky's:

Somehow, director Matt Lenski and the crew managed to shoot all three commercials concurrently. The three of us "talent" had some overlap time to try to learn each others' skills.

I tried to joggle up the warped wall, which was much harder than it looked.

This is how Kacy does it. Looks easy, but she's not even juggling.

The last day of filming, we shot my opening scene at a track near L.A. For this segment, I had to joggle at high speed past other runners in a mock race. Matt wanted me to run as fast as possible, so I went out at my 800m race race, which is about a 4-minute-per-mile pace. After each take of about 150m or so of sprinting, I jogged (without joggling) back to the start and immediately jumped into the next take. I'm accustomed to doing speedwork intervals at track practice, but this time I had no idea how many takes it would take! It took a lot of takes. Oh, and did I mention that it was 38 C (100 F) and sunny?

I survived the shoot, thanks in part to a restful sleep the night before in a beautiful room at, wait for it, Fairfield Inn and Suites!

And the results?


The three amigos: me, Kacy Catanzaro and Rocky Byun

With Kevin and Lee, the creative geniuses behind the campaign.

Me and director Matt Lenski, at the end of a long day.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Joggling, the Sport for 'Competitive Goofballs'

Huffington Post writer Kevin Bell did a bang-up job digging into the history of joggling in his article, The Invention of Joggling, the Goofiest Sport in History. I'm happy to see joggling pioneer Bill Giduz get the credit he deserves for essentially bringing the sport into existence and for coining the term "joggling" in 1975. Giduz's "Joggler's Jottings" columns are definitely worth a read, especially this one on joggling sprint legend Owen Morse, of Wikipedia photo fame.

The very talented and inspiring Dana Guglielmo, who holds the women's 5K joggling world record despite suffering from inflammatory arthritis, sums up our pursuit perfectly in describing us as "competitive goofballs."

Bill Giduz winning the 100m joggling event at the IJA Festival in Atlanta. Photo: Bill Giduz

Friday, 5 December 2014

Joggling in Slow Motion

Here is some slow-motion joggling from my half-marathon record, set to opera music. After I finished laughing at this, I noticed just how perfectly each toss must be timed to match the running stride.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Man Versus Ball: One Ordinary Guy and His Extraordinary Sports Adventures,’ by Jon Hart

At one point in Man Versus Ball, Jon Hart’s editor, frustrated by the author’s shenanigans, calls him “the George Costanza of journalism.” But really, he is the opposite of the bumbling Seinfeld character (save for being really funny). Rather than try to cut corners and take the lazy way out, Hart goes out of his way – often way way out of his way – to make his life as difficult as possible by diving head-first into whatever whacked-out sports-associated role he can find. 

I was surprised at how much I learned from Hart’s book. He introduces us to the cutthroat and surprisingly fascinating world of soda and hot dog vending at Yankee Stadium, takes us behind the scenes of pro tennis after qualifying to become a “ball person” at the U.S. Open, he shows us how amateur football players hammer their bodies to hell for no pay and rarely any glory, and he joins the National In-line Basketball League (which, yes, is basketball played on inline skates), a sport I didn't even know existed.

Among his many adventures, Hart essentially becomes a series of different real-life characters. He races up the Empire State Building as a stair climber, puts in a painful stint as a professional wrestler nicknamed Johnny Love, a Venice Beach party guy. After training with the top mascot guru in the business, Hart lands a role as a hockey mascot, dressed in a neon pink gorilla suit.

As “The Joggler,” I know all about running along the fringes of so-called real sports. After all, I did star in an award-winning documentary with the tagline, “Fame. Fortune. Usually neither.” The thing is, it’s not about all of that. What I've learned in my time as a marathon joggler is that it’s about doing the best you can, whether you’re running a marathon while juggling, dunking basketballs on inline skates or jumping around dressed as a pink gorilla. I was slightly disappointed that the book didn’t include any joggling, but will wait patiently for Hart’s sequel, Man Versus Juggling Balls.

Man Versus Ball is a raucous rollick along the frayed fringes of the sports world, where I think Hart finds more real-ness than you typically encounter in the major professional sports. “It’s not about superstars or championship teams,” Hart writes, but along the way, he does find plenty of superstars in their own way – all unheralded misfits, in one way or another, himself included. 

Find Man Versus Ball on Amazon HERE.