Michael Wardian, 42, just had maybe the most epic year of running any runner ever has. In addition to running all six World Marathon Majors in 2016—Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York—in a new record average time of 2:31:09, he also competed in a 5K while blindfolded for charity in Boston, ran 42 miles across the Grand Canyon and back in the middle of the night, turned in strong results in 100-mile runs in San Diego, New York City and Chamonix, France, spent a week running pristine trails in Cuba, and ran additional races in New Zealand, Hong Kong, France, Japan, Iceland and on the Spanish island of Menorca. Oh, and Wardian, who works full-time as an international shipping broker, won the GEICO Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon in 2:38:04, setting a new world record for the fastest marathon ever run while dressed as Elvis.
Why do you run?
Running is my passion and I think my purpose in that I love kinetically moving through the world under my own power, and seeing the world under my own terms. I run for so many reasons, some of which are freedom, power, health, exploration, sanity, obsession, accomplishment and, of course, pure joy.
What inspires you to run so many races in so many places?
I am inspired to explore the world, meet new people, experience unique cultures, places and styles of competition and see just how far I can push my limits and what I am comfortable with. Racing to me is raw and true and allows me to access places I didn’t think possible. I am fascinated by moving through foreign places under my own power to see what is around the next bend, over the next mountain, down a narrow alley or singletrack trail.
How are you able to recover so quickly between events?
I am asked about recovery a lot, and I think a fair amount of my ability to recover is due to my mindset. I am super motivated to take advantage of every opportunity, and fulfill each obligation, and that means I don’t have the luxury of extended recovery. For me, the act of moving—even light movement—is really helpful for speeding up the recovery process. I also use compression clothes, drink copious amounts of liquids, consume the highest quality food I can find, use Addaday recovery products, get massages and try to stretch and do strength training.
What was the hardest thing about running so fast in an Elvis costume?
The sunglasses bounced the entire race and by the end, after pushing them up the 200th time, I noticed a bit of pain on the bridge of my nose. I was thinking the Elvis wig would be a problem, but it was great during the race. The Elvis suit was dialed in and didn’t bother me too much. It was hot but not crazy hot, and the crowd’s cheers more than made up for it.
What’s your favorite post-run meal?
If I can get some incredible fresh fruit or a smoothie, that is pretty much heaven for me. If I have access to it, I would love to chase my fruit with an almond butter and honey sandwich on fresh bread. I am addicted to Big Spoon Roasters Almond Ginger almond butter and raw honey.
What’s on tap for 2017?
It’s going to be unbelievable! It will start with the World Marathon Challenge, which entails running marathons on seven continents in just seven days in January. In February, our family will travel to New Zealand, where I will run the Tarawera 100K. I’m definitely planning to run the Boston Marathon and Big Sur Marathon back-to-back again, and then I’ll head to Australia for the Ultra Trail Australia 100K in May. From June to August, there’s a chance I’ll run the Comrades 90K race in South Africa, the Western States 100 in California, Hardrock 100 in Colorado and the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc.