Virginia’s Michael Wardian aiming for two sub-2:30 marathons in the same day.
Two marathons in a day? It’s a pretty tall order, but it doesn’t take a superhuman effort to run 52 miles. What it takes is a good endurance base and a smart fueling strategy.
But racing competitively in two rather fast full marathons in the same day? Now you’re talking about something special.
That’s the ambitious goal of Michael Wardian at this Sunday’s Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio and Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas marathons. The race in San Antonio begins at 7:30 AM CT, while the race in Las Vegas starts at 4:30 PM PT.—a span of just 11 hours.
“It should be a good challenge, for sure,” says the 39-year-old Arlington, Va., resident, who has a reputation as a bit of a “raceaholic” for his prolific racing schedule. “The big challenge with running two marathons in a day is just to be able to recover that quickly. When it comes down to it, it will be about eight and half hours between the end of the first one and the start of the second one, and that’s not a lot of time.”
Guinness World Records has no listed record for running two marathons in one day, but Wardian is interested in setting the bar high and aiming for sub-2:30 at each one. Winning each race will likely take efforts of at least that fast. Scott Randall, 22, of Cedar Park, Texas, is entered in the San Antonio race with a 2:20:37 PR, while Yon Yilma, 25, of Edmonds, Wash., brings his 2:29:53 win at the June 22 Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle Marathon into the Las Vegas race.
It’s a rare feat simply to finish two road marathons in a single day, mostly because the logistics—actually getting to the starting line of two different marathons in two different cities on the same day—can be a bit challenging. California resident Sean Murphy tried to run the California International Marathon and Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon in the same day in 2011, but dropped out of the latter race after running 3:08:36 in the first race.
About 200 runners will be running the half or full marathons in San Antonio and Las Vegas, including basketball-dribbling runner Darren Weissman (aka, “Dr. Dribble”). Runners completing two races will receive a special double-sided Rock ‘n’ Roll medal.
Wardian, who works full-time as an international ship broker, is no stranger to amazing running feats, including back-to-back efforts. He’s run 50K, 50-mile, 100K and 100-mile ultrarunning races, but he’s never run two marathons in the same day. He set the record for running Boston 2 Big Sur in 2010 with a combined 4:53:24 after running 2:25:45 at the Boston Marathon and 2:27:39 six days later at the Big Sur International Marathon. In 2011, he placed third in Connecticut’s Hartford Marathon in 2:22:18 and the following day won the Mount Desert Island Marathon in Maine in 2:32:36.
His most impressive back-to-back marathon effort might be the combination of his 2:21:50 effort (62nd place) at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon in Houston and the 2:31:17 he posted the following day en route to a 16th-place finish at the Houston Marathon.
“The key will be continually hydrating and then refueling after the first race,” Wardian says of the San Antonio-Las Vegas double.
Wardian says he’ll be wearing several pieces of 110% Compression + Ice apparel and keeping his legs loose with The Stick on the 1,073-mile Southwest Airlines flight between San Antonio and Las Vegas. The flight departs at 12:15 PM CT from San Antonio and arrives in Vegas at 1:10 PM PT.
As for hydration and refueling, Wardian says he’ll consume PowerGels and Succeed products to maintain his carbohydrates and electrolytes before, during and after each race. He probably won’t eat a large meal between races—instead he’ll rely on a combination of almond butter, honey, bananas and PowerBars. His younger brother, Matthew Wardian, 37, will be accompanying him to make sure his gear and nutritional products are in order all day.
“I’m just going to treat it as a really long effort and kind of refuel between the races,” he says. “But you can’t have a huge meal or anything like that because you have to run again in a short amount of time.”
Wardian has set several quirky running records, including the since-broken record for the fastest marathon pushing a jogging stroller (2:42:21). That mark was broken during a duel at the 2009 Route 66 Marathon by Zac Freudenburg, whose 2:32:10 clocking beat Wardian’s 2:34:37 effort.
Wardian holds the record for the world’s fastest indoor marathon—having run a 2:27:21 by running 210 laps on a 200-meter indoor track in 2010—and owns the record for the fastest marathon in a super hero costume (2:34:56 wearing a Spider Man garb at the 2011 Lower Potomac Marathon). He formerly held the records for the fastest half marathon (1:08:50) and marathon (2:23:58) on a treadmill.
But despite his penchant for racing under unique circumstances, Wardian is a legit marathoner and ultramarathoner. He’s a three-time U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon qualifier, owns a 2:17:49 PR and was the silver medalist at the 2011 IAU 100K World Championships in the Netherlands. He won the JFK 50 Mile in 2007, placed third in the 2010 Marathon des Sables in Morocco and is a six-time winner of the Rock ’n’ Roll USA Marathon in Washington D.C.
Most recently, Wardian ran a 2:27:05 at the Oct. 27 Marine Corps Marathon and clocked a 1:10:19 at the Nov. 10 Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon. He plans to run the JFK 50 Mile on Nov. 23 and The North Face 50-Mile Championships on Dec. 7 near San Francisco.
Wardian was sidelined much of the last year with stress fractures in his pelvis and a nagging groin injury, but he says he’s finally getting his form back.
“I feel like my legs are trying to come back,” he says. “I haven’t been doing any real speed work, but I have some good miles under my belt. And that’s what is going to help me in the San Antonio-Vegas double.”