By Michael-Lucien Bergeron
A few weeks ago I decided to make the trip to Toronto in order to attempt the Guinness World Records title for fastest half marathon joggling with three objects. I engaged with them and the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon organizers and this quickly became official.
Over social media, I challenged the then current world record holder, Michal Kapral, and my good friend in Montreal, Graydon Snider, to come race against me. Due to injury, Michal had to decline, but Graydon accepted. Graydon used to live in Halifax, and has run a sub 1:10 half-marathon in the past. I knew this was going to be a difficult challenge.
With one week to go before the race, Graydon and I talked, and we planned to race together until 18 kilometres in order to ensure that one of us was going to break the record. My coach, Lee McCarron of the Halifax Road Hammers, agreed to join the fun as our pacer.
So there we were on the start line of one of the biggest fields in the country, toe to toe with some of the fastest Canadian Olympians. Graydon started out quick, and he took the lead. At around 8K, we joined a pack with a 2:36 marathon pacer. Our intended pace was 3:45/km but Graydon had fire in his legs, and pushed us to nearly 10 seconds per kilometre faster. Knowing that Graydon was faster than me when not joggling, I also pushed the pace to keep him in my sight. Coach Lee, who was beside me kept telling me to hold on, and not get excited. It was quite difficult to see Graydon go, but I stayed patient.
At 12K, I saw him struggle a little so I pushed the pace, caught up to him and took the lead. From that moment until 18K I had a good 50m lead. But tired legs and mental fatigue started to catch up to me. The cold weather (it was near freezing during the race) made it difficult for me to move my fingers nicely to control the toss of the balls. Graydon caught up, and now we were toe-to-toe again.
With one kilometre left, we went under an overpass, which created some shade from the light. Graydon, who was wearing sunglasses to deflect the wind, was blinded and dropped back-to-back sets of balls (in order to run a valid world record, you must collect drop balls and restart where the drop occurred). I then took a small lead. But Graydon used his speed and quickly caught back up to me. We were now side-by-side with just 50m to go. I heard a small “tock” sound just behind me—Graydon had dropped a ball. I crossed the finish line in excitement but, I was also sad to see my friend finishing two seconds behind.
With this finishing time, I was now the new Guinness World Record title holder for fastest half marathon joggling with three objects in 1:17:10 (3:30 faster than the previous time). Excited, yet in tears, I tried to control my emotion while I saw my friend passing two seconds from also achieving that goal.
Final approximate stats:
Five drops for me while Graydon had about 12 drops.