Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Without a Drop: Joggling the Chicago Marathon

At the halfway point of the 2016 Bank of America Chicago Marathon, my joggling world record of 2:50:12 was still within my grasp. I glanced over at the clock to see 1:25:24, making sure to keep the tosses and catches in a perfect three-ball cascade. It would be possible run a slight negative split for a sub-2:50, but I could already feel an ache in my legs that I knew would turn into agony in the final miles.

The night before the race, my wife Dianne and I heard Meb Keflezighi speak at the marathon expo. He had a lot of motivating things to say, but I recalled one thing he said about backing off slightly to avoid a massive bonk in the last three miles. I've run 33 marathons and have a good idea what my limits are and I felt I was on course for a crash. I decided to follow Meb's advice and edge off my pace slightly to focus on not falling apart. Finishing a marathon is hard enough. Trying to maintain a 6:29-per-mile pace while juggling is another.
Even though the pace was a little too hot, I felt ecstatic about the first half of the marathon. Joggling a big marathon is always nerve-racking at the start. You're jammed in a big crowd of anxious runners. There's excitement, nerves and usually lots of jostling. And jostling is a joggler's enemy. But I managed to get off to a clean start, running off to the right side of the road. The first mile cruised by with no drops, despite a badly watering left eye that not only caused blurred vision but also double and distorted vision - also a joggler's enemy. I didn't want to stop and wipe my eye since it was still quite crowded so I just pressed on, trying to blink out a tear to clear it up. The blur continued for miles, and was soon compounded by an torturous itch under my nose. The inability to scratch an itch or wipe an eye is one of the overlooked challenges of marathon joggling. My joggling rival Zach Warren said he once ran the final eight miles of a joggling marathon with a bug in his eye.

There were other more welcome distractions. Right from the start, the spectators went absolutely berserk as I joggled past. Because of this, I had a huge grin plastered on my face. Sometimes I laughed out loud. There were cries of "There's the juggler!" and "Go juggling guy!" But by far the most common refrain was: "It's the guy from the commercial!" or "Go Fairfield guy!" I literally heard this every 10 or 20 seconds throughout the marathon. Fairfield Inn and Suites had sponsored me to joggle Chicago and I was keen to prove that the "fastest marathon juggler" - as I'm billed in the ad - was a real person, and that joggling was a real thing.

My main goal was break my 2:50 record, but I had a somewhat secret secondary goal of joggling a marathon without a drop in under 3 hours. I didn't want to put too much pressure on myself to pull off the feat since it's far too easy to let it slip between your fingertips, especially with the crowds and distractions of a major marathon like Chicago. But when I joggled past 30K still without a drop and still on sub-3-hour pace, I knew I had a shot at my decade-long dream of a drop-less sub-3.

Along the way, I stopped maybe six times to refuel at the aid stations. As long as I come to a complete stop, the official joggling rules allow you to stop juggling as you eat or drink - you just need to be juggling every step of the way forward for the entire 26.2 miles. I drank two cups of Gatorade with each stop and once time ate a gel with two cups of water. I also stopped twice to wipe my watery eyes. I have allergies, so my eyes tend to water a lot. Just my luck.

At 23 miles, my arms began to hurt badly. I use lightweight joggling beanbags for racing (extra-small size Sportballs by Sport Juggling Company), but after about 45,000 tosses and catches of a 50,000-toss race, the pain kicks in regardless of beanbag weight. My legs were not functioning very well, either. The cardio felt great but I was entering survival mode, just focusing on every stride, every toss, every catch, and every breath. "In the pocket," I told myself over and over, referring to the perfect landing stop for every throw - just in front of the hip, exactly where the open palm of my hand ends up at the front of the arm swing during my running stride.

A few gusts of wind nearly derailed my no-drop goal. Once I caught an arrant ball between thumb for forefinger, mere millimetres off a sure drop. Another time a wind gust blew my pattern out of whack and I joggled wildly for five or six strides trying to get the juggling cascade re-synced with my running. Somehow, I held it together.

With 400 metres to go, I flew into an absolute panic that I would drop near the finish, as I did when I set the world record in Toronto in 2007. Normally, I look through the balls and just trust my peripheral vision to catch them, but with so much up in the air, I decided to stare at every toss. I told myself repeated, "You cannot drop. There is nothing in the world more important than not dropping a ball right now." It worked. I did manage to smile in the final stretch and crossed the line smiling, elated and drop-less. I yelled a huge "YES!" raising the three beanbags in a triumphal arch above my head. "I can't believe I just did that," I said out loud, to no one.

It was a 2:55:25 and the fastest joggling marathon ever completed without a drop. Against all odds, the dream has come true.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

'Marathon Juggler' Going for Joggling World Record at 2016 Chicago Marathon


Going for the Joggler: Running-While-Juggling Champ Aims for ‘Joggling’ World Record in Chicago Marathon

TORONTO – SEPTEMBER 29, 2016 – Michal “The Joggler” Kapral of Toronto, Canada, will toss and catch his way through all 26.2 miles of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on Sunday, October 9, in a bid to break his own record of 2 hours 50 minutes and 12 seconds for the fastest marathon while juggling three objects.

Kapral, 44, took up the niche sport of “joggling” (jogging while juggling) in 2005, when he first set the Guinness World Record for the joggling marathon in Toronto as a stunt to raise money for charity. He quickly became addicted to the harmony between the cascade juggling pattern and the running stride, and spent the next three years in a back-and-forth battle for marathon joggling title with American rival Zach Warren. Kapral eventually set the current mark at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in 2007.

Kapral’s joggling feats recently earned him a role as himself, billed as the “fastest marathon juggler,” in the currently running national TV commercial for Fairfield Inn and Suites by Marriott. Fairfield is sponsoring Kapral’s Chicago record attempt to support the hotel chain’s #StayAmazing campaign.

“A lot of people who saw the commercial just can’t believe that running a marathon while juggling is a real thing, or that there is any competition,” Kapral says. “I look forward to showcasing this weird and awesome sport in Chicago – and hopefully setting a world record as well.”

To break his 2007 record, Kapral will have to run every step of the 26.2-mile race while simultaneously juggling three beanbags every step of the way at a pace of under 6 minutes and 30 seconds per mile, or more than eight consecutive 20-minute 5Ks. The race will involve more than 50,000 tosses and catches. If Kapral drops a ball, the official rules say he must return to behind the drop point before continuing. He also needs to come to a complete stop to drink water or Gatorade, so that he juggles every step forward.

“I’ve done a bunch of drop-free long training runs, so I’m ready to joggle up a storm in one of the world’s greatest marathons,” Kapral says. “But my main goal is to get people smiling and maybe inspire them to look at the world in a different way and do something out of the ordinary.”

A father of two daughters, and a writer for a government health agency in Toronto, Kapral calls joggling “the perfect metaphor for life.” To push the multitasking up another notch, Kapral also plans to chew gum throughout the joggling marathon in Chicago.

To other marathon runners who might be peeved that he is running while juggling at or faster than their pace, Kapral says: “Don’t worry, I’m probably hurting more than you are. In the last miles of a joggling marathon, I often think to myself, ‘How can something so silly be so painful?’”

Kapral won’t be the only joggler in Chicago. Local joggling veteran Perry Romanowski also plans to take part in the race.

Chicago will be Kapral’s seventh joggling marathon and his 33rd marathon in total. He has a non-juggling marathon best time of 2 hours 30 minutes and 40 seconds, when he won the Toronto Marathon in 2002. He also holds the Guinness World Records for fastest joggling half-marathon in 1 hour 20 minutes and 40 seconds, set in 2014, and the fasting joggling 10K in 36 minutes and 27 seconds, from 2008. In 2004, Kapral set his first Guinness World Record, for fastest marathon pushing a stroller, in 2 hours 49 minutes and 47 seconds, with his then 1.5-year-old daughter Annika in tow.

Kapral chronicles his joggling experiences on his blog, The Bloggling Joggler, at


For more information, high-resolution images, or to book an interview, contact Michal Kapral:

Monday, 26 September 2016

Running and Juggling on Vacation

A lot of us lead busy lives and spend our days running around juggling our demands. Sometimes we need to an escape to get away from it all. But when I'm on vacation, I just keep running and juggling. This past winter, we took a rare getaway to Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. It was -34 C in Toronto when our plane took off and +30 in the DR when we arrived. Perfect weather for beach joggling.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Fairfield Inn and Suites Marathon Juggler Commercial

There's a new version of the Fairfield Inn and Suites commercial airing now for the hotel chain's Fairfield 100% Guarantee campaign.

I'll be staying at a Fairfield in Chicago in a couple of weeks for a certain 26.2-mile running event, hoping to prove the fact that I'm "pretty much guaranteed to never drop the ball," and to demonstrate convincingly that "marathon juggling" is a real thing. More on this soon.

Friday, 12 August 2016

Joggling Beer Mile in 8:48.77

"Choggling" – it's a thing: I smashed my joggling beer mile PB by more than 2 minutes on August 10 at the Toronto Classico Beer Mile, running, juggling and chugging my way to an 8:48.77 finish.

ESPN's Darren Rovell tweeted the story to his 1.47 million followers.

And then – OMG!!! – I made it on with the awesome headline "Beer Mile Racer Busted for JWI (Juggling While Intoxicated."

I wrote up a story HERE about the "choggling" race for Canadian Running's website. Short version: I had a bad bottle opener, I really need to work on my chugging, and it's really hard to run while juggling and burping. 

Next time, I might try juggling three in one hand as I chug the beer.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Joggling on French-Language TV in Amazing TFO Canada Segment

This video shoot I did for TFO Canada's "24/7" show features some of the best joggling footage ever recorded. It took more than eight hours to film in several cool locations around Toronto. The directing, photography and video editing are excellent. My French, not so much. You can also watch it on TFO's website HERE. Enjoy.

Friday, 13 May 2016

Joggling Next to Drake (Again!) in Metro News

I finally got around to submitting the paperwork for my 2014 Guinness World Record for fastest joggling half-marathon, including a couple of awesome photos from Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half-Marathon staff. Here's hoping one of them makes it into the book. A few weeks after I sent through my official claim, the certificate arrived in the mail from London.

My daughter snapped a shot of me holding the certificate, which I posted on Twitter, and a few hours later, Metro News picked up the story.

I usually take the subway to work and joggle home, and the next day, on my subway ride, I opened Metro to find my own ugly mug smiling back at me.

This marks the second time that I have appeared in print next to Drake. Here's the first time, in Toronto Life's Eco Meter.

What does this mean? Maybe it's a sign that I need to run up the CN Tower while juggling and then joggle around on the ledge at the top, as Drake looks on from his perch? #joggling #VIEWS