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Running’s newest extreme challenge: 500 lbs squat, sub-5 mile and marathon in one day

Fergus Crawley completed a 501 lbs squat, 4:58 mile and a 4:47 marathon in 24 hours

With limited opportunities for conventional competition, runners have taken up some extreme challenges in 2020. Some took to running marathons in their apartments, others are smashing decades-old FKTs, a few elites are running the slowest mile possible and one person completed a 500 lb squat, sub-five-minute mile and a marathon all in one day.

Fergus Crawley of Edinburgh, UK, is the first runner to complete all three tasks in one go, running a 4:48 mile and a 4:47 marathon (according to his Strava profile) following his squat effort. That’s taxing three dramatically different systems in one day – and by the halfway mark of his marathon, he said he was feeling it. This strange tri-event isn’t for the faint of heart. Crawley is undeniably athletic. He has completed Ironman triathlons and many other ultra-endurance events. Despite his extensive endurance training, this challenge took him to the limit. 

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The squat 

The squat was the first physical task of the day and certainly would be the most challenging for the majority of runners. However, for Crawley, this was his strongest event of the day. He successfully squatted 501 lbs and moved from the gym to the track to begin his mile warm up. For context, squatting 501 lbs is like lifting three of your most average-sized friends at one time.

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INTENSITY⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ 3×1 at 212kg/466lbs today as part of my taper…⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Endurance training has taught me to approach things much more deliberatively, calmly, and with (almost) a sense of ‘zen’. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ In honesty, for the past couple of weeks of training my squats have felt terrible, and I’ve had almost no faith in myself when I get to my top sets. Heavy weight requires heavy intensity, save the zen for later, Fergus. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Today, I went into it with a lot more belief, a lot more stoicism, a whole load of intensity, and I banged out 3 singles (this was the last) that felt solid and smooth. The result was exactly what I had hoped for: confidence. ⁣⁣ ⁣ Time for the (large amounts of) fatigue to dissipate, and my top end strength to reveal itself 👀⁣ ⁣⁣ I might no longer be shooting for first place, but second place is there for the taking, and hopefully, soon, I will take it 🤙🏼

A post shared by Fergus Crawley (@ferguscrawley) on

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The mile

Crawley’s 4:58 mile is impressive. He did a good warm up and ran an evenly-paced race, hitting roughly 72-second laps. For most recreational runners, clicking off four consecutive 72-second laps is no joke. Crawley looked extremely smooth until about five metres to go when he tripped over his spikes and hit the ground – a true mark of someone who’s totally exhausted (and certainly something that’s happened to anyone wearing spikes when they’re really tired). He said after, “I’ve never had to empty the tank as much as I did there.”

The marathon

The marathon was when Crawley truly hit the wall. He ran consistent five-minute kilometres for about half of the 42.2K, but then the wheels fell off. He was initially looking to run a sub-five-hour 50K, but he ended up only running a 4:47 marathon. He said in his recap video, “My legs feel like lead. It’s hot, I’ve got a salty forehead. I’m cramping like mad in both of my quads, and I don’t have any salt tablets.” He got to the marathon finish, but says he was seriously low on salt. The next day he described feeling like he’d been hit by a bus. 

If runners are considering taking on this challenge, this is something you’ll want to seriously train for (and be sure to perfect your squat form). It’s not easy to tax three different systems in one day, but if you can, you’re joining a very exclusive club.

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