It’s often said, about the marathon, that you can train and prepare perfectly, but ultimately there are many things that are completely out of a runner’s control come race day. One of those things is the weather. How many marathoners do you know whose hopes were dashed by high winds on race day, or an unexpected heat wave in April?

This may be why the indoor marathon was invented. Of course, that means running the marathon around a track. Which for many runners is a headscratcher–so much so, that there are very few such events internationally. (Ahotu Marathons lists only eight.)

 

As you might imagine, for individuals running a marathon on a track is somewhat different than on a road. (It rarely rains, for one thing.) And in this case the track in question, at the historic Fort Washington Avenue Armory in New York City, is only 200m. This means runners have to circle it 211 times to complete the marathon.

Five men, two women and 86 relay teams of 2-8 runners completed the third annual Armory NYC Indoor Marathon over a three-day period March 16, 17 and 18. The race is organized by the New York Road Runners, the same organization that puts on the annual New York City marathon. The individuals were vying for the World Record Challenge, which has been broken in each of the three years of the event.

Some deny it, but it could be the frequent turns and monotony of running more than 200 laps around a track are why times are usually slower than in road marathons. But times are hotly contested. In each of the three years the race has existed, the record has been broken in both male and female categories.

When asked about his secret weapon, this year’s winner responded, “I am good at embracing repetition and boredom.” Malcolm Richards is a 35-year-old schoolteacher from San Francisco, and completed the race in 2:19:01, besting last year’s winner, Chris Zablocki, by almost three minutes, to reclaim the title he won in 2016.

Lindsay Scherf, 31, took the women’s title in 2:40:55, almost two minutes faster than the record set last year by Laura Manninen of Finland, ahead of the only other individual woman in this year’s race, Caitriona Jennings of Ireland. Scherf, who lives in Scarsdale, N.Y., has been competing and breaking records since age 11. She has held the American Junior Record (under-20) in the 10K since 2005, and represented the United States at two IAAF World Cross-Country Championships.

The two winners received US$3,000 each in prize money, plus a US$4,000 bonus for breaking the world record. This represents a more-than-threefold increase over last year’s purse, an effort to attract more runners capable of contesting the world record.

Canadians interested in checking out the indoor marathon phenomenon have their choice of two, both in Ontario: the Run4RKids Indoor Marathon in Toronto, and the Thunderwolves Indoor Marathon in Thunder Bay, Ont.

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