For the average long distance runner, the prospect of tackling a marathon is a daunting challenge requiring months of preparation and a good night's sleep on the eve of the race. But Rory Coleman is not the average long distance runner.
Tomorrow, Coleman, 38, will begin his quest to establish the world record for the most miles run in a seven-day period, racking up in excess of 250 miles. He estimates he will run between 40 and 50 miles a day over the 168-hour period, establishing a record that no one has been brave (or crazy) enough to attempt before.
Then, on the eighth day, rather than collapsing at the end of his odyssey, Coleman plans to line up for the start of the London Flora Marathon and run the 26-plus mile race through the city's streets.
While the casual observer might question Coleman's sanity for taking on the ordeal of an eight-day marathon, residents of the village of Long Eaton in Derbyshire are used to Coleman's obsession with endurance running, and he says they think he's "a bit eccentric."
Only two months ago, Coleman set the world record for a 48-hour treadmill marathon, and he estimates that he has run more than 260 traditional (outdoor) marathons. Coleman says he has run the New York marathon three times, the Chicago marathon twice, and participated in other events that have taken him across the Sahara Desert and through Jordan.
But running has not been a lifelong hobby for Coleman. Rather, the print worker decided to take up the sport in 1994 when friends and family helped convince him his two-pack a day smoking habit and expanding waistline would lead him to an early death.
All Running, All the Time
Since then, Coleman has become an accomplished outdoor runner, and perhaps the world's undisputed "Treadmill King." He holds world records on the treadmill for 12, 24 and 48-hour runs. Once he sets the seven-day record, he says he plans to travel to Chicago this summer to break it.
Running has been good to Coleman. He met his wife, Sarah Jane, when we was running the length of Britain — a 1,000 mile quest from John O'Groats in the Scotland to Lands End in the south of England. When asked what she thinks of his running obsession, Coleman laughs and says, "If I ever stop, she'll think there's something wrong with me then."
Coleman will spend the first three days of this "race" running on a treadmill in his hometown of Long Eaton before relocating to the London Arena and an exhibition to publicize the London Marathon. He says he's not nervous but that he realizes he has a tough road ahead of him.
To stay on a pace of 40-50 miles a day, he says he'll do nothing but run and sleep the entire week. Coleman said his biggest concern is the beatings his knees and ankles will take. "I'll need to rest them, or they will swell up pretty badly," he said.
But lest anyone think he's a health fanatic, Coleman explains, "I eat absolutely everything. As much fat and carbohydrates as I want. I just eat and eat, and I don't think too much about it."