Ryan Chukuske never imagined eight years ago that he would run a marathon, let alone one twice in one day. But the Minnesota runner proved otherwise Sunday, running 52.4 consecutive miles in the Mankato Marathon. The run is 26.2 miles long.
"The slogan is, 'Go Bold for Mankato,’" he said. "So, my friend said why don't you do something bold this year. I don't usually say no to any running challenges."
Chukuske, 33, began the day at three in the morning, running the entire course backward in four hours and 10 minutes before taking his spot at the starting line at 8 a.m. when the official race began. He finished with a rank of 272nd out of 444 in 4 hours and 30 minutes.
"I'm number one in 52 [miles]," he said laughing, adding that he finished in eight hours and 40 minutes all together.
Chukuske started running in 2006 in an attempt to lose weight. He weighed 270 pounds, about 80 to 90 pounds overweight at the time.
Now, the 180-pound runner has turned his guide for a healthier lifestyle into a passion, having written two books on the subject and run in over 30 races and marathons, including the New York City Marathon, the Chicago Marathon and the Walt Disney World Marathon.
“I’m trained to run like this all the time,” he said. “I put into 80 to 100 miles a week consecutively.”
He ran his best time of three hours and twenty-seven minutes last year in the 2013 Mankato Marathon, compared to Dennis Kipruto Kimetto, the male with the fastest marathon record of 2 hours, two minutes and 57 seconds, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Kimetto achieved the record in September 2014 at the Berlin Marathon, which is the same length as Mankato.
Guinness could not confirm whether there is a record for running a marathon backward and forward, though it does have a record for running a marathon backward, held by Xu Zhenjun, who achieved it in the 2004 Beijing International Marathon in three hours, 43 minutes and 39 seconds.
Chukuske dedicated his performance this year to those who are unable to run because of physical impairments, saying that he runs “for everyone. I put in miles for people who want to but can’t.”
When asked whether he would consider running the 52.4 miles again, he replied, “In a heartbeat."