Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Greatest Joggling Marathon That Wasn't

They say nothing comes from nothing, but that was not the case with my non-joggling marathon in New York City on Nov. 1. It turned out that quite a bit come from the joggling marathon that didn't happen.
My previous post on this blog ended up sparking a global debate on the limits of anti-terrorism security measures, and probably also led thousands of people to google "joggling." The joggling ban was featured in the New York Times, Runner's World, the Atlantic and Canadian Running, among many others.

After I wrote the blog about the New York City Marathon banning joggling beanbags, I first heard from sports writer Jon Hart, who wanted to interview me for sports magazine I wrote back to Jon saying sure, I'll do an interview, but that only about three people will be interested in the story. I was very wrong. 

Canadian Running wrote a piece about it, then I did an interview with Runner's World, which also ran a hugely popular article on weird items you can't bring to the NYC Marathon. 

Dianne and I headed to New York City and began our marathon prep, somewhat relieved to be able to relax and not have to deal with the pressure of trying to set a Guinness World Record or do media appearances. But the day before the race, I got an email from New York Times reporter Lindsay Crouse, who had seen the Runner's World piece. Next thing I knew I was doing a phone interview with the freaking New York Times! 
During the long journey to the start line of the 2015 NYC Marathon.

Lindsay and I couldn't stop laughing during the interview, even though the subject matter had some serious elements to it. From my point of view, the juggling beanbag ban was a sort of war on fun, and an example of security precautions gone haywire.

Amazingly, in one evening, Lindsay pulled together what I think is one of the best articles about joggling. She even managed to reach fellow jogglers Zach Warren in Afghanistan and Richard Ross in the Central African Republic, and quoted joggler Chris Pert's blog calling the NYC ban "the biggest bummer in joggling history." (Sports columnist Tab Bamford replied on Twitter that "no I'm pretty sure its invention was the biggest bummer in joggling history," to which I say "Hahaha ... screw you." It always makes me laugh when football, baseball, basketball and hockey fans put down other sports, but I'll save that one for another post.)
On marathon day,  I was amazed how many people recognized me without my beanbags. A bunch of runners had seen the Runner's World article and said they were bummed out about the beanbag ban. And then I heard people along the course say, "There's the juggler!" or "That's the guy from the commercial!" Really a weird experience.

The best thing was that without juggling, I had my hands free to high-five all the kids along the course. Since I wasn't going for a record or a personal best, I took the time to high-five hundreds of kids, and also made sure to look around and enjoy the course through all five boroughs of NYC. What a race. 

I finished in 2:51, a minute slower than my joggling marathon world record, for 45th in my age group and 332nd overall. Maybe the juggling helps me run faster now? I made it back to Central Park just in time to see Dianne finish.

When you're in the New York Times, you need to get photo evidence. Love the headline in the print edition: "With Juggling Ban, Only Things Being Aired Are Grievances."

I was thinking of going after my record at joggler-friendly race in early 2016 and got official joggling approval from the good people at the L.A. Marathon and Rock 'n' Roll San Diego Marathon, but it looks like I'll be delaying the attempt until the fall. I heard back from the Chicago Marathon and they gave the joggling thumbs-up. It's almost a year away and I'm already excited. 

Hopefully NYC reverses its ban on joggling in light of the uproar. If not, it's heartening to see that at least the other major marathons are not following suit.

When is on your side, you know the future is bright for your sport.
Dianne looking way too fresh after the finish.

Saturday, October 10, 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. 

Tuesday, May 19, 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, January 31, 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, January 29, 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