Written by Jon Waldron
We've assembled a field of world class athletes who will be racing each other and chasing seven world records on Saturday. Read below to meet the challengers and see who's got the best chance of walking away victorious.
How to follow the races - All race details including how to follow live on Saturday, June 6 will be at chaski.run/challenge. In addition to video feeds from the competitors and live commentary, the site will have a visualization showing each runner’s progress vs. each other and the listed world record, and a live blog.
Women’s Half Marathon (7:15 pm EDT)
Current Treadmill World Record: 1:20:43 - Jenna Wrieden (USA), 2014
Sara Hall - PB 1:08:58
Renee Metivier - PB 1:11:52
One of the most exciting races on Saturday will be the women’s half marathon, where Sara Hall is a heavy favorite to win and, in the process, to obliterate the current world record of 1:20:43.
At 37 years old, the 10x U.S. champion is running as well as she ever has. In September 2019 she ran her Marathon PB of 2:22:16 at Berlin, and in January 2020 she ran her Half Marathon PR of 1:08:58 at Houston. One of the favorites for the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in February, Hall ran with the lead pack through 19 miles before losing contact with the leaders, describing later how the relentlessly rolling course in Atlanta had beaten her up. On Saturday, Hall won’t have hills to contend with, but she will have the disadvantage of running in Flagstaff, AZ (Elev. ~7000’). Nevertheless, for a runner who is capable of splitting 1:11 in the first half of a full marathon, even the altitude should not keep her from running far under the old record.
Hall’s competition in the race will be 4x U.S. champion and 6x member of the U.S. National team at the IAAF XC Championships, Renee Metivier. Although Metivier’s personal bests for the marathon (2:27:12) and Half Marathon (1:11:52) date back to 2012 and 2010, respectively, she is still a national class road runner (like Hall, Metivier competed in the 2020 Olympic Trials Marathon), who has made a successful transition to trail running. In 2016 she won the USATF Trail Half Marathon Championship, and in 2017 won the USATF Trail Marathon Championship. About her chances against Hall, Metivier knows that she’s an underdog, but is focused on beating the old record and putting pressure on her rival.
Men’s Half Marathon (6:00 pm EDT)
Current Treadmill World Record: 1:03:37 - Tyler Andrews (USA), 2015
John Raneri - PB 1:01:51
Adam Holland - PB 1:03:36 (Treadmill - not ratified)
One of the most intriguing races of the evening will be the men’s half marathon where the U.S.’s John Raneri will take on U.K. ultra-marathon legend Adam Holland, and both will try to topple Tyler Andrews’ five-year-old world record. On paper, Raneri has the edge with faster PRs at both the half (1:01:51) and the full marathon (2:14:13), but, like Sara Hall, Raneri will be running in the altitude of Flagstaff (7,000 ft, 2,100m), which makes his task considerably harder.
Holland, on the other hand is best known for his insatiable appetite for miles, generally, and marathons, specifically. In 2016 he participated in the charity Run4Peace, running across the U.K. and covering 1900 miles in 25 days. (76 miles per day). In 2015, Holland completed 24 marathons in 17 days (winning all but one). He is also no stranger to running on treadmills, as he once logged 183.86 miles in 48 hours, raising £34,000 for charity.
If Raneri or Holland or both manage to dispossess Andrews of the record, it will happen shortly after 7:00 pm, and might provide some additional incentive for Andrews, who will at that moment be approximately 20K into his attempt to set the marathon and 50K records (see below).
Men’s Marathon / Men’s 50K (6:00 pm EDT)
Current World Treadmill Records:
- Marathon: 2:20:45 - Paul Zwama (NED), 2018 - 50 Kilometers: 2:56:35 - Matthias Kyburz (SUI), 2020
Tyler Andrews - Marathon PB 2:15:51; 50K PB 2:46:06 (Track)
Max King - Marathon PB 2:14:36; 50K PB 3:08:50 (Trail)
Michael Wardian - Marathon PB 2:17:49; 50K PB 2:55:05 (Road)
For some inexplicable reason, 2020 has been the year of the 50K for treadmill running. Already this year, the record has been broken three times, and there is an excellent chance that Saturday will see it broken a fourth time.
The three competitors -- Tyer Andrews, Max King, and Michael Wardian -- bring a wealth of relevant experience to the event, although they each have different strengths.
At 46, Wardian is an ultra-marathon legend whose resume includes a long list of records and accolades. He has run and won races all over the world, has four-times been named USATF ultra runner of the year, and in 2011 was named the International Association of Ultrarunners Athlete of the Year. At age 43, he recorded the fastest ever average time for running seven marathons in seven days on seven continents, averaging 2:45. He has also held the world treadmill records for the marathon and for 50K. In April, 2020, Wardian outlasted his competition to win the Quarantine Backyard Ultra, covering 262.52 miles in 63 hours. Wardian has said he is aiming to run in the 3:00-3:10 range on Saturday.
Among the three, Max King has the speediest marathon PR, dating back to 2012, and is still running at a high level at age 40. The former 8:30 steeplechaser-turned-ultra-runner has won numerous national titles at various distances, and in 2014 won the IAU World 100K championships with an American Record time of 6:27:43. While he has not run a road (or treadmill) 50K, King has run and won numerous trail 50Ks, including the Way Too Cool 50K in California in 3:08:50. It seems evident that King is quite capable of going under the current record.
Although Andrews -- at 30, the youngster of the group -- is a relative newcomer to the ultra world, he has already notched some impressive achievements. In 2016, he finished second in the World 50K championships in Doha, and in 2018 ran 50K in 2:46:06, the fastest-ever 50K run on a track, and the second-fastest-ever time for the distance by an American. He also has a successful history with treadmill efforts, having twice set treadmill records for the half marathon, including the listed world record of 1:03:37. Andrews has made no secret that he would like to get the marathon record AND the 50K record, and even challenge his outdoor personal best.
“I think I’m as fit as I was when I ran 2h46 and the treadmill will always run faster (i.e., it’s easier to run the same pace vs. outside due to the lack of wind resistance), so I’m going to go out fast and see how far down we can bring this mark. I think an A+ day would be running close to the overall world record [2:43:38] and splitting under 2h18 for the marathon.”
Andrews has a history of swinging for the fences on big stages, which has resulted in some great performances and some spectacular flame-outs (such as his DNF at the HOKA ONE ONE Project Carbon X 100km last year where he passed the halfway mark more than a mile under WR pace in his debut at the distance).
All this is to say: Andrews might be hanging on for dear life by the end of this one and King's and Wardian’s experience may prove the victor in the end.
The Lone Wolves
Two athletes will run solo attempts where they'll be racing the history books. Will their own internal will be enough to get the to the finish line? We'll be streaming these live and you'll be able to track their live progress through our live-tracker and they'll be staggered to finishing during the race broadcast.
Women’s Marathon / 50K (4:15 pm EDT)
Current Treadmill World Records:
- Marathon: No claimed record
- 50 Kilometers: 3:51:25 - Ariella Fitzgerald (CAN), 2016
Regina Lopez - Marathon PB 2:42:07; 50K (debut)
Although it might appear that Regina Lopez -- running unopposed in the women’s marathon/women’s 50K -- has the least challenging race among the elites, her assignment might be harder than it looks. With no opponent and no existing marathon record to aim for, Lopez will have to set and try to meet her own purely internal goals without the motivation of external competition. Another mental obstacle will be continuing past the marathon distance to complete the 50K, a distance she has never raced before.
Like Hall and Metivier, Lopez competed in the 2020 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials along with her twin sister Sabrina, and finished in 2:56:15. And like Metivier, she has had success at Trail Racing, winning the 2019 Spartan Trail 21K U.S. Championship.
Asked about her motivations and goals, Lopez said, “I love going outside my comfort zone and trying new things. If I kept doing the same thing, I would still be the same person I was a year or even 5 years ago. The warrior queen in me never backs down in a challenge. This will be my first treadmill and 50k race. I am excited to go out there and give my best. My goal is to break the World Record for the [treadmill] 50k. I am confident that I can do it. I have the support of my community, and people who love me. That is a win right there!”
Men’s 100K (12:00 pm EDT)
Current Treadmill World Record:
6:40:35 - Phil Anthony (GBR), 2014
Mario Mendoza - 100K debut (off-trail)
It might seem like ancient history now, but it was only January when world-class ultra trail runner Mario Mendoza took a break from the mountains and off-road races that are his speciality to take a shot at Mike Wardian’s 50K treadmill record. It was a successful break, as Mendoza’s 2:59:03 was a 46-second improvement over the old standard. The new mark didn’t last long, however. In February, Germany’s Florian Neuschwander ran 2:57:25 to take the record away, and then in April, Swiss orienteer Matthias Kyburz improved the record by another 50 seconds to 2:56:35.
While Andrews, King, and Wardian will be trying to break the 50K record for the fourth time this year, Mendoza will be tackling twice the distance, aiming at Phil Anthony’s six-year-old treadmill record for 100K (62.2 miles), which stands at 6:40:35. Mendoza has never run a road 100K, but he has ample experience with ultra trail races. He is a six-time member of Team USA, a five-time national champion, and in 2018 won the U.S. 100K Trail Championship. He has also been successful on the world stage, finishing 9th in the IAU Trail World Championships in 2017, leading the U.S. men to the bronze medal.