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French athlete runs 3:25 marathon, backward

Guillaume de Lustrac was bet by his friend that he couldn't run a marathon backward–he proved him wrong by setting the world record

Photo by: Saint-Paul-lès-Romans/Facebook

On Sunday at the 2023 Drôme Marathon in Saint-Paul-lès-Romans, France, Guillaume de Lustrac came through on a bet he made with a friend: to finish a marathon, running backward. De Lustrac did not only run Drôme Marathon backward, but he did it in a ridiculously fast time of 3:25:24, placing 19th overall among 103 participants and breaking the Guinness World Record.

The 29-year-old marathoner averaged a wild pace of four minutes and 52 seconds per kilometre, running backward. 

De Lustrac’s goal was to break the backward marathon Guinness World Record of 3:38 held by Markus Jurgens of Germany, but he told local French news that he did not expect to shatter the record by this much.

“We started much faster than expected,” de Lustrac tells actuDrôme. “I made a rookie mistake and I was 10 seconds faster per kilometre […] I was afraid of the 30-kilometre (marathon) wall. The wall came at kilometre 40 but I knew I was on pace to break it.”

He made the bet with his friend four months ago, then began training backward on every training run. De Lustrac holds a (forward) marathon personal best of 2:33:32 from the 2022 Valencia Marathon.

Photo: Guillaume de Lustrac/Strava

Reverse running, or backward running, has gained popularity recently and was named the fitness trend of the year, according to a 2021 study

The known benefits of reverse running are that it burns more calories than traditional running, and it improves your posture. This backward activity also reduces imbalances between your anterior and posterior muscles, decreasing the impact on your knees.

Dr. Robert Stevenson, the author of Backwards Running, believes that reverse running should be practised by all athletes, claiming that the activity itself is simple if you have the right technique. It’s best to practise reverse running form by keeping your shoulders over your feet while holding your arms in close. And obviously, it’s important to frequently look around, to prevent yourself from running into anything or getting injured.

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