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Monday, March 3, 2014

Treadmill Half Marathon World Record Toppled

Weary of icy roads and sub-zero temperatures, runners around the country have been turning to the treadmill this winter. But one man, 23-year-old Tyler Andrews, took his treadmill running a little more seriously.

On Saturday, he set a new world record for the treadmill half marathon, running the 13.1-mile race in 1:07:18, nearly 11 seconds faster than a Scottish long distance runner named Andrew Lemoncello.

The record was set at Boston’s Marathon Sports store in front of a crowd that included running fans, as well as curious shoppers.

Andrews dedicated his run to Strive Trips, an organization he co-owns that brings American students to Peru and Kenya to work on community development.

Here & Now’s Karyn Miller-Medzon was at the record-setting event and brought us this report.

Reporter

  • Karyn Miller-Medzon, avid runner and frequent producer for Here & Now.

Transcript

JEREMY HOBSON, HOST:

Well, when you think about world records in running, you might think about races on the roads or maybe the track. But world records can also be set on treadmills, which a lot of runners use to train during the winter. HERE AND NOW's Karyn Miller-Medzon has the story.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Runner set, go.

KARYN MILLER-MEDZON, BYLINE: That sound, the whir of a treadmill motor and the rapid-fire thump of feet smacking the belt was also the sound of a world-record run this weekend. That's when 23-year-old Tyler Andrews, a native of Massachusetts who trains year round in the mountains of Ecuador, crushed the current half-marathon treadmill world record by more than 11 seconds, running to raise awareness for STRIVE, an organization that brings student athletes to Peru in South America to train and to take part in community development programs. Surrounded by fans and curious onlookers at Marathon Sports in downtown Boston, the minutes ticked by and so did the miles.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Eight miles in 40.53. That was a 505-mile. He's now 17 seconds under world record pace.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

MILLER-MEDZON: But as in most long distance races, this record was not going to come easily. By mile 12 of the 13.1-mile distance, Tyler was grimacing and his pace has slowed.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: 12 miles, 101.52, six seconds above world record pace.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Wow.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: He needs a five-minute last mile to do it.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

MILLER-MEDZON: In the end, Tyler succeeded, running the last mile in a blazing 458, giving him a finishing time of one hour, seven minutes and 19 seconds.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: That beats the listed world record by 12 seconds.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

MILLER-MEDZON: And with that, Tyler collapsed. When he got up a few minutes later, I congratulated him.

TYLER ANDREWS: Thank you. Thank you, guys, for coming here.

MILLER-MEDZON: So what does it feel like? You just set a world record by about 12 seconds, and you looked like you were in pain at the end. How are you feeling now?

ANDREWS: Yeah, that about sums it up. You know, I don't think anybody, you know, except maybe Haile Gebrselassie really looks good while they're finishing a long race. So there's - it feels good. I think it'll sink in later. But right now, I just, you know, like I run really hard for 67 minutes. And I feel I like I just want to sit down for a little while. And I also never really run a real race before on a treadmill, so that was also a new thing that we're adding this time.

MILLER-MEDZON: Your feet at the end kind of looked like you'd never run a race on the treadmill. How painful was that?

ANDREWS: Yeah. I got a kind of nasty blister on my right big toe there that was bleeding through my shoe. But I guess, I've actually - I never lost a race in those shoes, so those are kind of my lucky shoes.

MILLER-MEDZON: Now, you did set a world record, but you had unofficially set a world record in November. Is it true that you had run a world record without really even knowing it?

ANDREWS: Yes. So that's kind of how this all started. Back in November, I was doing a fundraiser for STRIVE, and I ran 66 minutes on a five-minute pace, so I ended up passing the half marathon in about 105.30.

MILLER-MEDZON: So you mentioned STRIVE, which is the company that you co-own. Tell us about what STRIVE is and why you are running for STRIVE.

ANDREWS: We arrange international community trips for high school and college students. And for me, as both an athlete and someone who has been really passionate about service and internationally worked for a long time, that melds really well for me because it kind of balances the selfish nature of athletics versus like the selfless nature of service.

MILLER-MEDZON: And so now, what's next? You have bleeding feet. You're nauseous. You're looking just a little pale. What's next in your running agenda?

ANDREWS: I travel back down to Quito, Ecuador. That's where I've been training, and I come back about the week of the Boston Marathon, so mid-April.

MILLER-MEDZON: Good luck.

ANDREWS: Thank you very much.

HOBSON: That's Tyler Andrews, speaking with HERE AND NOW's Karyn Miller-Medzon. And, Meghna, if I were running a marathon, I would spend the time in Ecuador.

(LAUGHTER)

HOBSON: Forget about the inside and the treadmill. From NPR and WBUR Boston, I'm Jeremy Hobson.

MEGHNA CHAKRABARTI, HOST:

I'm Meghna Chakrabarti. This is HERE AND NOW. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • S David H de Lorge

    Is anybody interested in how this treadmill is geared? It certainly isn’t like those I’ve been on. How does it follow his pace without tweaking his pace? How does it not slip him off the end? Can he hold the bars at any time? What kind of surface is it, that he’s not bouncing?

    BTW, Quito, Ecuador is > 8000 feet. He has money to train in an oxygen-deprived environment in order to compete in sea level oxygen conditions. He grows more than average number of red blood cells and oxygenated muscle cells. How is this different from Lance Armstrong taking erythropoiten to increase his red blood cell count?

    • kbmm

      Hi David,
      In order to have a treadmill record become “official” the treadmill’s calibration has to be certified according to very specific criteria. The treadmill used for this particular record was a new one, provided by the Boston Athletic Association, which also provided a professional to test and certify the accuracy of the time/pace/belt rotation. In terms of altitude training, it is true that it provides advantages for the endurance athlete, which is why so many runners and cyclists choose to train in these locations. Andrews trains in Ecuador both because of the altitude and because it’s an ideal location from which to lay groundwork for his Strive programs. Thanks for your comment.
      Karyn, Here and Now Producer

      • S David H de Lorge

        Hey, thanks for your generous reply!

        • kbmm

          Hi, I’m actually going to provide an even more accurate answer, since I just received a detailed email from the company that generously provided it’s services for the treadmill world record event:

          The name of the company that provided the treadmill to the BAA/Marathon Sports is Gym Source.
          Here’s the information from Norman Morrison, Senior Product Mangager at Gym Source: “Marathon Sports asked us to provide something that could calibrated properly and that could provide the proper speed (99% of
          treadmills stop at 11-12 MPH). It’s
          525 lbs, and as the biggest dealership in the industry, we have our own installation teams to move these things in and out of Boston (and dozens of other cities) daily. This treadmill was made based on the partnership between
          the manufacturer (Icon-Freemotion) and the BAA. And this particular special edition has an upgraded drive system exclusive to a version made only for us. There was a lot behind the scenes that went on, including having Icon-Freemotion fly 2 techs out from Utah to test and upgrade the
          software at 7:30 am on Friday and after our team (one of 5 we have in the local warehouse) dropped it off, I went in personally and checked the incline and speed calibrations on site at 7pm. And we did all of this totally per gratis,
          based on our partnerships with Marathon Sports.”
          So that’s the accurate version of how Tyler Andrews/Marathon Sports recieved the treadmill he used for his record-breaking.

    • Kilgore Trout

      With regard to the second comment regarding altitude training – this is a widely accepted training regimen of many endurance athletes. It’s no secret, not illegal, and for many people (i.e. those born in Quito, Kenya, or Colorado), it’s something that they aren’t even actively doing! In contrast, EPO is a banned substance and has plenty of (scary) negative health impacts – including increased risk of stroke among others. Endurance training in general will increase your red blood cell count (as will eating more kale or red meat), so comparing this with taking a banned substance seems a little silly =)

      And in addition to the comment below, the other reason that Tyler trains in Ecuador is because of the low cost of living. Being a professional athlete/NGO worker is not a glamorous life… I’m a friend of his and know that a big part of the reason he lives and trains down there is because it’s the only way he can afford to chase his dream.

      • S David H de Lorge

        Kilgore! I’ve been waiting so long to hear back from you! Only a little more desperately waiting for Mr. Rosewater.

        I take your point and almost entirely accept it. I just sort of wanted to call attention to how one can manipulate her/his hemoglobin and myoglobin counts by varying the altitude of his/her training. Does s/he generate more endogenous EPO in this way? Are there ways in which this might be said to resemble the use of exogenous EPO?

        I haven’t been privileged to condition my oxygen saturation by living at elevation increased by several thousand feet. I suppose I’m a little envious, but I’m trying to do better.

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