Sunday, November 12, 2017

VIDEO: 5-Ball Joggling GoPro Footage from Toronto Waterfront Marathon

Zach Warren captured some pretty cool GoPro footage during my 5-ball joggling Guinness World Record attempt at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Joggler Out: Spinning My 5-Ball Joggling Marathon Fail as a Success

I'm just going to throw this out there: Sometimes when you set ridiculously challenging goals for yourself, you will fail. That's exactly what happened to me at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon last Sunday. My goal was to set a new Guinness World Record for the fastest marathon while joggling five objects.

There was no current record, but the Guinness records-keepers decided through some calculus that 4 hours 40 minutes was the time to beat. This doesn't sounds very quick, but here's the thing: running while simultaneously juggling five balls is exceedingly difficult. To a non-joggler, I might put it like this: joggling a marathon with three balls is like running a regular marathon, while joggling a marathon with five balls is like running a marathon hopping on your left foot only for the entire 42.2km. It's exponentially harder the further the distance.

422 drops to glory?

Leading up the race, my training had gone quite well. I practiced running 100m, 200m intervals joggling five balls, and worked my way up to being able to do some 400m joggles around the U of T Varsity track without dropping. But my average drop rate was still around every 100m, which is 422 drops for the marathon. I still thought it might be manageable, but knew based on timing my 100m joggles that a 4:40 marathon would be almost impossible.

Lucky for me, I had a chance do some training with five-ball joggling record-holder Matt Feldman, who is incredibly quick at the 400m, mile and 5K.



I also had lunch with five-ball joggling legend Barry Goldmeier, who regularly runs large portions of marathons while juggling five beanbags.

The week before the race, CTV News and CP24 ran stories about the record attempt.



I still can't stop laughing at the fact that I secured a sponsorship from the best cinnamon bun shop in Toronto. Thank you, Rosen's Cinnamon Buns for supporting my joggling dreams. A huge thank-you as well to Cheryl Sayers from Sport Juggling Company for the amazing Sportball beanbags.

Joggling jitters

Zach arrived from D.C. on Friday and we toured Toronto riding BikeShare bikes on Saturday, which was probably not the best thing to do the day before trying to set a world record. I hadn't seen Zach in 10 years, since we raced each other at the 2007 Salt Lake City Marathon. I discovered that he's still one of the greatest people you could ever meet.



Zach has worked as a circus performer, and is an expert juggler. The night before the marathon, we went out to practice some joggling to see how close he should follow during the race. Zach tried five-ball joggling and actually had some trouble with it. I realized that all my training had actually worked. I had developed a new still (perhaps not the most useful skill in the world, but still...).

Race day. My nerves were joggling through the roof, since I still didn't know if this record was even possible. It was very difficult to tell during my training how the race would play out, since I trained on a track, or on an empty stretch of road in my neighbourhood. Zach and I lined up in the slowest corral for marathon finish times of 4:30 and slower. I decided to start near the front of this group, thinking if I got a good clean start, I could stay up front in the clear and avoid the crowds. But just before the horn sounded for our corral's start, a bunch of runners shimmied in front of me and Zach, and I suddenly found myself squished in a large crowd.




I was immediately in a panic, trying to maintain the high tosses of the five-ball juggling pattern. I dropped several times right near the beginning, and scrambled to regroup right away so I didn't interfere with the runners behind me. This caused me to drop even more. I was exhausted almost right from the gun, and it just got worse from there. On the bright side, the spectators were loving it, and Zach shouted encouraging words to pull me out of my panicked state. It was still crowded up until about 3km, but by the time I had slowed enough to have some space to juggle, my energy was sapped. I felt like I had already run a marathon. I should have started at the very back and not worried about trying to run 4:40, but it was too late.

Give me a hand

My hand injury turned out to be a muscle tear.
In my frenzy, I somehow managed to injure my left hand, which began to hurt more and more with each toss. I hit 5K in 46 minutes, already 13 minutes behind schedule. Zach told me, based on my stride length and toss rate, that I would be making 130,000 tosses and catches for the marathon. It's going to be a long day, I thought. The next 5K took me 56 minutes. My hand was now in serious trouble, shooting pain up my forearm with each toss and catch. By the 13K turnaround on Lake Shore, I had entered survival mode. "We're going to finish this," Zach said. "My flight doesn't leave until tomorrow."

Close to my break point at about 15K, the race film crew showed up. Wonderful, I thought. Everyone can watch me fall apart. And they did. As I inched forward a few steps at a time, the camera crew remained. I thought about all the people who had donated to SickKids Foundation, I thought about the sick kids, and I thought about how lucky I was to be out there doing this.



The commentary on the race video is priceless. Canadian Running editor-in-chief Michael Doyle says it looks like a slow form of torture, and he was right!



Things were not going well at all.


I thought I could just will myself through the rest of the race, even if it took 15 or 20 hours. But just before the 17K marker, I knew my hand was too damaged to go on. I got the five-ball pattern going, joggled to the 17K sign, caught the balls, turned to Zach behind me, and declared, "Joggler out." At this point, we were in last place in the entire race of 18,000 people, followed by a line of police cars.

Zach said we should continue to run the rest of the marathon without juggling, and I agreed, though I secretly planned to bail at the half. A couple of kilometres later, we ran past three mounted police officers. Zach ran over to them and, employing his deft social skills from a decade of living and working in Afghanistan, he convinced them to gallop behind me on a final joggle. It was quite the scene. I ended up joggling at a good clip, as the clack of the hooves sounded altogether too close behind me.



Regular running

We continued on. Near the halfway point, we ran into my parents, my sister, Moira, and my niece, Kate. My mom reminded us that the course had a time limit of 6 hours. "A sub-2 half? We can do that!" Zach said, cheerfully. I put on my best smiley face, and off we went for another half marathon. We shared some good laughs with the walkers, and were ever grateful for the volunteers who remained at the scene to offer Gatorade and water to last runners and walkers. My entire body felt like it was falling apart, but somehow I found the strength to keep running. Zach hadn't run a marathon since our 2007 joggling duel in Salt Lake, and recently had back surgery, so he wasn't doing so well himself. But we chatted and laughed and joked our way through the rest of it.

I juggled for the last few metres across the finish line. Two of my beanbags hit the timing clock above the finish and thumped to the ground on the finish line. Seemed appropriate that these extra two balls fell at the end.

Post-joggle

Joggling five balls every step of the way over long distances is very hard. Ludicrous, really. I knew this challenge had a good chance of failure. But I emerged from the experience with an odd sense of excitement. I tried. I gave it everything. I juggled to the last catch possible.

I had the privilege of running with Zach Warren for 5 hours and 40 minutes, a great way to catch up with a friend after 10 years. I got to see my wife Dianne and kids, Annika and Lauryn at the end. Lots of people donated to SickKids, raising nearly $2,000. Zach and I posted a negative split of 1 hour 56 minutes and 31 seconds, possibly the largest negative split ever in a marathon. I joggled five balls of the race for 17K, which is likely the furthest anyone has gone for every step, returning behind the drop point after each drop. Zach and I had a chance to experience what it's like to be in last place in an IAAF Gold Label marathon. We met so many amazing people along the route. I got to joggle with a mounted police escort.

There was some pretty entertaining media coverage after the race, from Canadian Running, Men's Journal, Sky Sports, and the Toronto Star. The Twitter Moment for it was even shared around the world by Twitter Moments and Twitter Sports.


As joggler Bob Evans said to me on Facebook after the race, "There is no story without conflict. Your 5-ball marathon quest just got a lot more compelling. Keep going!" In this case, I battled the record, and the record won. This was captured perfectly in this screenshot of race video of me looking like a dejected gorilla.


Joggler out, but not down.


















Monday, September 25, 2017

NEWS RELEASE: High Five! Juggling Runner Michal Kapral to Attempt 5-Ball Joggling Marathon Guinness World Record in Toronto

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

High Five! Champion Juggling Runner Michal Kapral to Attempt 5-Ball ‘Joggling’ Marathon Guinness World Record in Toronto

Kapral to race Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon juggling 5 beanbags – and chewing gum – to raise funds for SickKids Foundation

TORONTO – Ten years after smashing the current Guinness World Record for fastest marathon while juggling three objects in 2 hours 50 minutes, Toronto’s Michal “The Joggler” Kapral plans to run and juggle his way to a new record, this time keeping five beanbags in the air every step of the 2017 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on October 22.

Kapral, 45, a writer at Health Quality Ontario in Toronto, has completed eight three-ball marathons while “joggling” – the sport that combines running (or jogging) and juggling – including the 2016 Chicago Marathon, which he finished without dropping a ball once in 2 hours 55 minutes.

Michal Kapral works on his five-ball joggling at the Toronto Beach
This will be Kapral’s first attempt at a five-ball joggling marathon, and the first time anyone has officially tried to set the Guinness World Record for running an entire 42.2km race while juggling five balls. The only other reported complete five-ball joggling marathon was by the late Billy Gillen of Brooklyn, N.Y., who was rumoured to have joggled the entire 1988 New York City Marathon in 7 hours 7 minutes. Barry Goldmeier of Rockville, Maryland has also joggled five beanbags during marathons, but doesn't juggle the entire way.

Guinness World Records has set a time of 4 hours 40 minutes to establish an official record. An adjudicator will be at the race to verify the record attempt on the spot. Kapral will aim for the 4:40 mark, but has a secondary goal of surpassing Gillen's reported time of 7:07.

“This is by far the most difficult world record I’ve ever attempted,” says Kapral, who also holds Guinness World Records for the fastest half-marathon (1:20:40) and 10K (36:27) while juggling three objects, and previously held the record for fastest marathon pushing a stroller. “Juggling five balls standing still is about 10 times harder than three. Keeping that five-ball pattern flying in the air while running a marathon is just completely nuts. It feels like you’re running two marathons at once – one with your arms and one with your legs.”

Kapral expects to stop or drop several hundred times during the marathon, and has enlisted American joggling rival and friend Zach Warren to run behind him (without juggling) to act as a spotter, and to ensure the safety of the other runners. Despite having to look up at an angle, Kapral is able to see ahead of him while running and juggling with five beanbags. Guinness World Records rules stipulate that if Kapral drops a ball, he must return behind the drop point before restarting. He can stop at aid stations to drink or eat, but must be juggling every step of the way forward.

As he did while setting the 2007 world record while joggling three balls, Kapral will chew gum during the entire five-ball joggling marathon. “People always ask me, ‘Can you also chew gum while you do that?’” Kapral says. “The answer is yes! I’ll be chewing Stride gum the whole way!”

Kapral is raising donations for SickKids Foundation as part of the record attempt, to support patient care, research and equipment at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, where Kapral received treatment for severe asthma as a child, and where he and his wife Dianne's daughter Annika received care for a heart condition when she was born. Secure donations can be made through this link: https://www.sickkidsdonations.com/registrant/FundraisingPage.aspx?registrationID=3952455&langPref=en-CA.

In another world first, Kapral has likely become the first runner to secure an official cinnamon bun sponsor. Rosen’s Cinnamon Buns, founded by cookbook author Amy Rosen, has endorsed the marathon record attempt.  

“These delectable treats fuelled some of my long training runs,” says Kapral, “so having Rosen’s support for this record attempt is just the icing on the bun.”

Kapral chronicles his joggling experiences on his blog, The Bloggling Joggler, at http://www.thejoggler.blogspot.com.

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For high-resolution images, or for more information, please contact Michal Kapral at joggler1@gmail.com, or @mkapral on Twitter.


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

A Non-Joggling Challenge: GoodLife Fitness City Chase Toronto

Running while juggling tests your fitness and your mind. The GoodLife Fitness City Chase does the same, and that's why I've had my eye on the urban adventure series for years. The events, which take place throughout the summer across Canada in Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa. Halifax and Toronto (two events), culminate in a national final with the best three teams from each of the city finals.

Dianne and I are teaming up to compete in the second Toronto event on August 19. It will feature a series of 10 challenges, and clues to find each of the challenge points. Participants are only allowed to navigate on foot or by public transit. Hopefully, we'll get a chance to do lots of running. They estimate 10k-20k of running and walking, depending on how much you take public transit. I don't plan to do any joggling during the race, unless of course there happens to be a challenge that involves running and juggling. The race has a 6-hour cutoff and the winners typically finish in just over 2 hours. Dianne and I recently returned from a week of back-country camping in Algonquin Park, so we're already in team adventure mode. Let's do this!

Teams that raise certain amounts of money for the event's charity partner, GoodLife Kids Foundation, which provides physical activity opportunities for children with autism, get special advantages, such as early access to clues.

Thanks to the good people at City Chase, you can get a $20 discount to the event through this blog. Just go to the registration page, and plug in the promo code: JOGGLER20.

The as-yet-unnamed but super-awesome team!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Blogiversary: 10 Years of Blogging About Joggling

Most people can't believe that joggling is a real thing that people do. Well, can you believe that I have been writing this blog about joggling for 10 years? Ten years! Exactly a decade ago, I launched The Bloggling Joggler with this post, saying:
"Welcome to the drama, the pain, the heartaches, the headaches, the insanity and the joy that is joggling. This blog will track my journey as I attempt to reclaim the Guinness World Record for 'fastest marathon (26.2 miles) while juggling three objects,' and any future joggling feats."
I never imagined the joggling hilarity that would ensue for the next 10 years.

Some highlights:

2007: Zach Warren and I faced off in a joggling duel at the Salt Lake City Marathon. We were featured in a CBC News documentary and the feature documentary, Breaking and Entering, by the amazing Benjamin Fingerhut.



2008: I chased after the joggling 5000m world record, falling just a few seconds short. I joggled the Cayman Islands Half-Marathon. I became, I think, the first person to joggle in the Northwest Territories, joggling the first few hundred metres of the Rock and Ice Ultra 135km race near Yellowknife.

2009: I appeared on MTV Canada, joggling onto the stage to the Rocky theme song. I joggled the World's Best 10K in Puerto Rico. I set the half-marathon joggling record of 1:24 in Montreal.

2010: The film Breaking and Entering released to rave reviews from Variety and New York Times.



2011: Tried to break the 5000m joggling Guinness World Record of 16:55 again, and missed out again by about 10 seconds. This is a tough one.

2012: Joggled the Chilly Half-Marathon in Burlington with a GoPro on my head. In October, I became the first person to win a marathon while juggling, joggling a 2:59 at the Trapline Marathon in Labrador. Beautiful race course.

joggling michal kapral
Joggling the Chilly Half-Marathon in Burlington, Ont.

2013: I made two attempts at the world record for the joggling 800m (2:12:45) and missed out the first time after a drop and the second time finishing in 2:15.




2014: I set a new Guinness World Record for the joggling half-marathon at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront race, finishing in 1:20:40. I set the unofficial joggling beer mile world record. Late in 2014, I flew to Los Angeles for a three-day TV commercial shoot for Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott.

Michal Kapral joggling half-marathon Toronto running juggling
On my way to the Guinness World Record of 1:20:40 for fastest joggling half-marathon at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront race. Photo: John Chou




2015: I planned to run the New York City Marathon while juggling but my beanbags were deemed a security risk. The joggling marathon that wasn't made the New York Times, Runner's World and Canadian Running.



2016: Sponsored by Fairfield Inn and Suites, I ran the Chicago Marathon while juggling in 2:55:25, without dropping a ball. The story went massively viral and I spent the next few weeks doing interviews every day. Unreal. The video below, shot by Chicago photographer Wendy Alas, was viewed millions of times, on Good Morning America, ESPN, BBC and elsewhere. Earlier in the year, I joggled another beer mile in 8:48, making ESPN and TMZ.


2017: To be continued. Thanks for coming along for the ride. Has anyone out there been reading this thing for the full 10 years?

Michal Kapral joggling Chicago Marathon running juggling
Joggling the 2016 Chicago Marathon in 2:55:25 without dropping a ball. Photo: Colin B Photography