The 33-year-old will transition from the oval to the open roads on Sunday night at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon.
For someone used to gunning a vehicle at breakneck speeds around an oval, running at just 7 miles-per-hour may not seem like a good fit for NASCAR ace German Quiroga, but that’s not how he feels about it.
This weekend, one of the most successful NASCAR drivers in Mexico’s history will don his running shoes and accompany thousands of pumped-up runners ar the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon.
Quiroga, who currently drives the number 77 truck in the Camping World Truck Series, didn’t start running until two months ago when his sponsor, OtterBox, asked him to give the marathon a go. “I said, ‘Why not,’” he recalls. “I do a lot of exercises every day, so, yeah, I will. I didn’t know what I was doing.”
Before his sponsor’s request, Quiroga hadn’t run farther than 7 miles, and that was at the beginning of this year. “Before that, the longest I had ever gone was two miles,” he says.
The 33-year-old says he’s applied the same discipline involved in racing a truck to his marathon training.
“I’m very strict with my way of preparing,” he says. “But the discipline I required for marathon training was different. It was very, very tough.” Still, Quiroga has put in the miles to succeed on the streets of Las Vegas. He’s logged a 20-mile run as well as a 15-miler in the same week and battled through an ankle injury. He kept running when he was hurt by using an Alter-G anti-gravity treadmill, which allowed him to run at a fraction of his bodyweight.
Quiroga shares that his marathon training has coincided with a very busy time in the NASCAR racing calendar. He’s had to wake up at 5 AM on race day to pound out the miles and then jump into his truck and shoot for the checkered flag. “It wasn’t easy, but once I committed to the program and to the training, it helped me keep on going,” he says.
The competitive drive that makes Quiroga so successful on the paved racetrack has translated to the roads. He says that once he found out that the average time to complete 26.2 miles was 4 hours and 30 minutes, he immediately wanted to do better. “When I heard what average was, I said, ‘Oh no,” he recalls. “If I commit to something, I want to be better than the average.” As such, Quiroga is aiming to dip under four hours and hopes to come in around 3:55. “If I do better than that, then I will be very excited, because in such a small period of time in training with injury and no experience, I think that’s going to be awesome,” he says.
Some of the lessons Quiroga has learned racing trucks have helped him on the roads. Other lessons haven’t carried over. “You have to always take it one mile at a time,” he says. “But still, in the marathon, you are pacing yourself, where in a race, you are competing against others.”
Pacing aside, one thing Quiroga says will help him in Vegas on Sunday night is good, old-fashioned rock and roll music along the course. He says he loves all types of music, but particularly classic rock bands from the 1980s like Guns and Roses or Poison. Surprisingly, he didn’t listen to any music while training in order to pay attention to his body and contends that he’s saving all the music for race day. “Listening to the bands in Vegas is going to help 100 percent,” he says. “I think this idea of a Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon is great. This will be my first.”
Quiroga says (with a laugh) that he’s a bit concerned if he hears Guns and Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle” while running down the road on Sunday night. “I think if I hear that song I might crank it up from 8:40 [per mile] pace to under 7:00 pace. I will have to calm myself down!”
Regardless of whether or not he meets his sub-4:00 goal, Quiroga is going to do one thing in Vegas: enjoy himself. “It’s been hard and I’ve been very busy training for this race, but for sure I’m going to have fun with it,” he says.