On Patriots' Day, Mitt Romney heads to Massachusetts where 27,000 runners and walkers will compete in the 2012 Boston Marathon. Thomas Gounley will be the only one joggling the race.
Gounley, a senior at the University of New Hampshire, plans to run and juggle, simultaneously, over the 26-mile course.
In a hilarious video from UNH, Gounley joggles while eating, sprinting and even passing another juggler – this one on a unicycle. His fluid motions make the sport look easy, but things will be tougher come this Monday.
"The hardest part is going to be the first couple miles: trying to run well, while still being in a moving crowd," Gounley said. He expects to drop the beanbags he'll be juggling several times during the race. If that happens, according to official joggling rules, he will be expected to stop, return to the spot where he dropped the bags and continue on from there. Normally he uses stage juggling balls, but he decided to trade them for beanbags to avoid chasing fallen balls down Heartbreak Hill.
Gounley's run is sponsored by his employer, New Hampshire butcher Meat House. On Monday, he will joggle from start to finish with the hashtag, #MeatHouseJoggler, temporarily tattooed across his chest, so spectators can tweet about his performance. With Boston ranked by Men's Health as the No. 9 socially networked city in the U.S., Gounley hopes to garner support ahead of his main goal: trying to break the Guinness World Record for fastest time to joggle 50 miles.
The current record, held by 18-year joggling veteran Perry Romanowski, is eight hours, 23 minutes and 52 seconds. Gounley hopes to top that with a time closer to 7.5 hours at the Three Days at the Fair race in New Jersey on May 12, one week before he graduates from UNH.
Around the college's hilly campus, classmates yell out their support as Gounley joggles by.
"Some people break out balls-related puns," Gounley said. "Just like, 'Oh, that's so baller,' and 'ballin'." Inspired by this phenomenon, Gounley and a friend made a video about the sport called "Ball So Hard."
Gounley started joggling less than a year ago and sent in his application to Guinness to try to break the record just nine days later. At the time Gounley was no stranger to long-distance running. He ran cross-country and track in high school and built up to marathons and ultra-marathons in college. He learned juggling as a hobby in middle school, but he had never before combined the two.
He described the process as being like riding a bike or swinging his arms while running. Gounley said it "only took a couple of days to get the rhythm down."
"For the most part, you're just sort of looking ahead like you're normally running," Gounley said. "The hands just sort of take care of the juggling themselves."
As far as he knows, Gounley is the only participant who will joggle the Boston Marathon on Monday, but he is not the first to do so. In 2006, dueling jogglers Zach Warren and Michal Kapral went head-to-head in a match that attracted media attention and ended with Warren's setting a new world record for joggling a marathon. His time was just two hours, 58 minutes and 23 seconds.
Gounley's goal is more modest; he hopes to finish in less than four hours. "I'm pretty much going out there to have fun [and] get in a good long run."