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Marathon Man: Belgian finishes 365th straight race

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) _ Belgian runner Stefaan Engels set a Guinness World Record after crossing the finish line of his 365th consecutive marathon on Saturday.

Belgian athlete Stefaan Engels, known as 'marathonman', reacts as he finishes his last marathon in Barcelona, Spain, Feb. 5, 2011. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
Belgian athlete Stefaan Engels, known as 'marathonman', reacts as he finishes his last marathon in Barcelona, Spain, Feb. 5, 2011. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Engels, dubbed the ``Marathon Man,'' began the extreme physical challenge a year ago in Barcelona. He competed a race a day in seven countries: Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Canada, Mexico, the U.K. and the U.S.

Engels told The Associated Press that he did it as a personal challenge and to be an example for others.

``After running 20 triathlons in one year, I was not ready to go back to normal life,'' he said. ``I also wanted to inspire people by showing that if I could run a marathon a day for an entire year, that anyone could run or bike a little each day or do something about their weight problem.''

The 49-year-old Engels ran a total of 15,401 kilometers (9,569 miles). He said the key was a slow pace over the 42 kilometers (26.2-miles).

``I recovery quickly. I don't run fast and my heartbeat is slow, below 100 if I run 10 kilometers, but it is more a mental story,'' he said. ``The problem was thinking about running a marathon everyday. I just told myself to run that day and did not think about the next day or next week.''

Engels averaged around 4 hours to complete a marathon. He said his best time was 2 hours and 56 minutes.

``He ran every race, he never walked. He ran at a rate of 10 kph,'' said Angels Garriga, the spokeswoman of Engels sponsor, the diet-control company Pronokal.

Engels had asthma as a youngster and doctors told him he should not participate in sports. But he decided to overcome his ailment and ran his first marathon at 25. He said his latest feat is the result of 35 years of exercise.

``There were a lot of moments when I thought 'Today, I won't finish,''' he said. ``One of the hardest moments was in Mexico City after a long flight, the altitude and I had gotten sick from eating something, and I thought 'What am I doing here?'''

This was Engels' second attempt at the feat. He injured his leg 18 days into the first try about a year ago and had to wait until he recovered to start over.

The previous record was held by Japanese runner Akinori Kusuda, who ran 52 consecutive marathons at age 65 in 2009.

Engels adds another entry into the Guinness Book of World Records. His 20 Iron Man triathlons in a single year earned the record in 2008.

As for what is next, Engels said he will focus on writing a book, coaching and giving lectures.

``It is time for other things,'' he said. ``It is time to give my body a rest.''

<관련 기사>

'365일 완주' 벨기에 마라토너 기네스북 등재

(바르셀로나 AFP.AP=연합뉴스) 마라톤을 정말 '1년 365일' 뛴 사람이 등장,  기네스북에 오르게 됐다.

49세의 벨기에 남성인 스테판 엥겔스는 5일(현지시간) 스페인 바르셀로나에서 진행된 마라톤을 완주, 최근 365일 동안 매일 1회씩 마라톤 풀코스를 소화하는 대기록을 세웠다.

엥겔스가 1년 동안 뛴 거리만도 1만5천401km에 달한다. 엥겔스는 지난해에 미국과 캐나다, 멕시코, 영국, 벨기에 등에서도 마라톤 경기에 참가하기도 했다.

1년 동안 매일 마라톤 코스를 완주한 엥겔스의 대기록은 기존 기네스북 기록 보유자인 일본인 구스다 아키노리를 제친 것이다. 아키노리는 2009년에 52일 연속  마라톤 완주 기록을 세운 바 있다.

20년간 마라톤을 해온 엥겔스는 2007년과 2008년에 철인 3종 경기를 20회 완주, 이 분야의 기네스북 기록 보유자이기도 하다.

엥겔스는 시간당 10km 안팎의 느린 속도로 달리는 방식으로 이 같은 대기록을 세웠다. 한 경기를 완주하는데 평균 4시간이 소요되며 최고 기록이 2시간56분이다.

엥겔스는 자신의 홈페이지에 올린 글에서 "나는 마라톤을 고문과 같은  고통스러운 일이 아니라 매일 하는 일처럼 생각한다"고 말했다.

그는 "마라톤을 마치면 샤워하고 물리치료를 한 후 하루를 종료하는 식"이라고 설명했다.