FROM JAN. 23 TO 29, Mike Wardian raced—and won—seven marathons in seven days on seven continents. The next day he ran another 16.6 miles, just to make sure he got to an even 200.
Wardian, a 42-year-old who lives in Arlington, Va., averaged 2:45:56 for the seven races, which beat a field of 23 men and nine women and shattered the previous World Marathon Challenge record by 46:29 per race. His wins came in Antarctica, Chile, Miami, Madrid, Marrakech, Dubai and Sydney. He stopped running long enough to chat about his record-setting week.
SI: Why would someone in his right mind do something like this?
MW: I've wanted to do this since I heard about it while running the North Pole Marathon in 2014. I didn't think it was possible. It took me three years to get the time and resources to make it happen. I love to race.
SI: Where does this rank among other races that you've done?
MW: It's in the top three. I did Marathon Des Sables, where I carried all my food and gear across the Sahara Desert. I also did Diagonale Des Fous in France with tendinitis in my foot. I was in a world of hurt.
SI: How much sleep did you get between races?
MW: Not very much. I'd say in the first four days I slept a total of eight hours. When it was all finished, I was a zombie.
SI: Why wouldn't you take something to help you sleep?
MW: I'm a big believer in clean sport. I didn't take anything. Not Advil, not Sudafed or cough drops, because I don't want to risk any chance that I would trigger a drug test.
SI: What other running goals are left on your bucket list?
MW: I have crazy aspirations. I'd love to run a marathon on the moon. I want to run across the Panama Canal or the Pilgrim's Trail in England. There are so many great races out there.
SI: How many miles do you want to run in 2017?
MW: Last year I think I finished with about 4,500 miles. I'm hoping to do even more this year. To keep improving and growing as a person is what it's all about. I hope that's what inspires people.
SI: Would you do this again?
MW: I would love to. There are definitely ways I can do better, and there are things I can fix, knowing what I know now.
SI: How many times does someone say, "Run, Forrest, run"?
MW: It's not unique! I just cheer along with them.
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For food, Wardian, a vegetarian, relies in part on almond and coconut balls made by his wife, Jennifer. Here are his keys to recovery:
If you can't get a massage, this is the next best thing. It loosens your legs up and gives you the ability to get back out there. Quick and convenient.
I'm not a huge stretcher, but I try to do it when I call people. When I'm on the phone, I'm pulling my legs up, touching my toes or spreading my legs.
So many people stop moving after a race, and their muscles cramp up. To keep moving is one of the best things you can do.
For more athlete-training profiles and tips, go to SI.com/edge