Spartans Beyond Campus: Michael Wardian

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Seeing the world is a dream of many people, but most would like to take their time while doing so. However, the opposite was the case for Michael Wardian. Wardian instead set out to go as fast as he could last week in an ultra marathon called the World Marathon Challenge. The race consists of seven marathons, one on each continent, for a total of about 183.4 miles by foot. Not only did Wardian finish the feat, but he beat the world record average by more than 45 minutes at the age of 42.

Wardian was a collegiate athlete at Michigan State, but contrary to what most would think, he did not run cross country or track. Instead, he played lacrosse. For years he planned on playing lacrosse professionally until his third year of college. It wasn’t until after college that he began to run competitively.

Whenever Wardian faced doubters who told him what he wanted to do was impossible, he simply did it anyways.

I got into ultra marathons because I was told it was impossible to run three marathons in a month, so I did in 1997” Wardian told Spring. “I thought if I did three marathons in a month I can do 50 miles and of course, everyone said I would get hurt, it was impossible and that just made me want to do it even more.”

Some of Wardian’s greatest racing accomplishments:

  • The Badwater Ultra Marathon (135 miles in Death Valley in July)
  • The Marathon des Sables (150 miles in the Sahara desert)
  • The Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (100 miles with 28,000 feet of vertical ascent)
  • The UVU North Pole Marathon (26.2 miles in temperatures lower than negative 40)
  • World record for fastest marathon while dressed as a superhero
  • Three time Olympic time trials qualifier
  • Four time USATF runner of the year

To add to that now is his new world record in the World Marathon Challenge. The race began Jan. 23 on Union Glacier in Antarctica. It was here where one of the 32 competitors had to exit early due to an injury in the negative 30 degree weather. As soon as each runner finished the marathon, they almost immediately had to get into their charter plane to head to the next event.

Wardian explained some of the struggles to competitor..

“You just get off the plane, and you start running,” he said. “You have like two hours to clear customs, change into your running kit—sometimes change in the airport—then you go run, then get back on the plane. I thought I’d have time to work and get food and stuff. None of that.”

After Antarctica, the participants then moved on to Punta Arenas (Chile), Miami, Madrid, Marrakech (Morocco), Dubai and finished in Sydney.

After Wardian finished in Australia, smashing the previous record, he then proceeded to run an additional 17 miles to push his weekly mile count to over 200 miles, the first time in his career.

Wardian has continued to improve his speed and stamina each year competing despite his age. He has told multiple sources he doesn’t see his career’s finish line yet, and he will continue to run until he can’t.

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