Success Story & World Record: 7 Days & More Than 850 KM On A Treadmill
by Rainer Predl:
This project took more than three years of planning from the first training session to the actual event. During this time, it wasn’t unusual for me to run between 200 and 300 km per week. Twice, I even ran 400 km in one week.
And then, on February 7th, 2015, the starting pistol was fired in the Megafit gym in Gänserndorf, Austria. All proceeds from my world record project called “The Monster Project” benefited both the volunteer fire department of Lassee and children’s hospice Sterntalerhof. My gym donated 1 euro for every kilometer I ran, but also my spectators took the chance to donate to the good cause, and ran with me on a second treadmill for a while to show their support. Thanks to an online video live stream, everyone was able to watch me at any time to make sure things were going the way they were supposed to. In addition an arbitrator was also present around the clock.
As for the equipment, I relied on a calibrated competition treadmill plus a second, calibrated emergency treadmill.
When I started my attempt to break the world record on Saturday, I knew it wouldn’t be easy. The stuffy, sweaty surroundings didn’t make it any easier either. Nutrition, but especially hydration were key to keep me fit and prevent me from dehydrating. The record attempt was not only a physical, but also a huge mental challenge since I didn’t intend to leave the treadmill for seven days (except for sleeping breaks).
On day 2, after 140 km, I started feeling really bad and didn’t know why. My doctors told me that my body had to get used to the strain and learn to cope with the lack of sleep. Lots of fellow runners stopped by and accompanied me – that helped. In theory, I was supposed to run from 6:00 a.m. to 2 a.m. every day, with a 3-hour sleeping break plus 1 hour to get back on my feet. Unfortunately, in reality it was impossible for me to sleep most of the time because of cramps and pain.
About halfway through the race, my left leg swelled up pretty badly and they had to cut open the front part of my running shoes. This made it possible for me to keep running, although I had to drag myself to the toilet, limping around during my breaks. However, as soon as I stepped on the treadmill my mental focus returned to the record, and I was able to run again! Between midnight and 2:00 a.m. were the hardest hours for me. I fought my tiredness, started talking nonsense, and kept pouring bottles of water over my head to stay awake. My doctors put on Rammstein and pushed me to continue by showing me motivating Facebook posts on a screen.
On February 12th, the volunteer fire department of Dörfles accompanied me the whole day wearing their respirator masks. I also got financial aid from a team of Austrian wine growers.
As I approached the imaginary finish line, there came a point where we knew I would break the world record – so I just couldn’t give up! I always focused on the next 5 kilometers, running one 5K stretch at a time, never even thinking about the full distance anymore. Thinking step by step was what kept me sane. For my last day on the treadmill, hundreds of spectators showed up to cheer me on. Motivated by waving Austrian flags I eventually broke the world record of 833 km several hours before time was up. Even though I had broke the record, I just had to keep running to collect even more kilometers and make it harder for the next person to beat my record.
And then it was over – I had actually done it! On February 14th, 2015 at 5:00 p.m. my treadmill stopped at 852.46 km (529.69 miles). A world record!!!
I want to take the chance here to send a big thank you to all my supporters and those who believed in this project from the beginning. Before and during my attempt to break the world record, I received lots of criticism… however, in the end I was able to silence my critics.
The Monster Project is now over, but it has connected many people. I myself got to know a lady during this project who I’m not planning to let go ever again. 😉