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Michael Wardian: Racing Around the World in Record Time

Michael Wardian is trying to become the fastest runner to complete all six Abbott World Marathon Majors races in the same calendar year, and the 2016 TCS New York City Marathon on Sunday, November 6, will be his final race on the docket.

Already this year, Wardian ran the Tokyo Marathon on February 28 in 2:28:14, the Boston Marathon on April 18 in 2:31:39, the Virgin Money London Marathon on April 24 in 2:27:37, the BMW Berlin Marathon on September 25 in 2:28:19, and the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on October 9 in 2:32:02. That makes for an average of 2:29:34, well on pace to break the record. He is also on pace to set a new mark for the fastest runner in six consecutive races, spanning multiple years.

While the record marks are unofficial to date, according to media, it is believed that Japan’s Yutaka Fukuda holds the current mark for six consecutive races with a 2:46 average, which he set in late 2013 and early 2014. Great Britain’s Andrew Bass is believed to hold the best average time across all six Abbott World Marathon Majors races in the same calendar year, with a 3:06 average set in 2013.

Wardian, a three-time U.S. 50K champion who has run nearly 200 marathons all over the world, is likely to break both of those marks.

Fresh off an 11th-place, 2:34:29 finish at the Marine Corps Marathon in Virginia last weekend, the 42-year-old will be racing in New York City for just the second time. In 1997, he clocked a 2:45:44 over the five boroughs in the third marathon of his career.

“It’s one of those races that’s got a place in that realm of great races—people think of it like a World Championship marathon,” Wardian said of the TCS New York City Marathon.

“Every year, I geek out watching it on the broadcast. So this year, I’m so excited to go back and run over all the bridges and get the full experience with all the fans.” He added, “I’ll hopefully finish off the Abbott World Marathon Majors with another solid run and put that record in a place that’s hard for other people to get.”

Wardian actually began his athletic career in lacrosse, a sport he started playing in fourth grade. His “lifelong dream” was to play Division I lacrosse, and he fulfilled that with a four-year career at Michigan State.

After graduating, he turned to road racing and immediately got hooked.

Today, according to some reporters, his passport is beginning to look like a worn-out phone book; he even had to have it expanded by 24 pages last year. He’s traveled the globe, doing ultramarathons and marathons on back-to-back days, and he has run 100 miles in a day with a half-marathon the following day. On top of that, this year he’s run a 185K in Spain, 100K races in China and New Zealand, an 80K in France, and a 55K in Iceland.

In January, he plans to take on the World Marathon Challenge, running seven marathons in seven days on seven continents. That’s 183.4 miles in one week, and includes races in: Union Glacier (Antarctica); Punta Arenas, Chile (South America); Miami, Florida (North America); Madrid, Spain (Europe); Marrakech, Morocco (Africa); Dubai, United Arab Emirates (Asia), and Sydney (Australia).

But first, in addition to potentially breaking a record in New York City, Wardian has the chance to earn a Six Star Finisher Medal, which is given to runners who complete all six Abbott World Marathon Majors.

At the 2016 TCS New York City Marathon, approximately 70 runners are expected to become Six Star Finishers, receiving their medals following the race in a special ceremony at Cherry Hill in Central Park.

By Stuart Lieberman

GET YOUR STORIES ON. Read more inspiring stories from runners chronicling their journeys to the TCS New York City Marathon starting line.

TUNE IN. The 2016 TCS New York City Marathon will be televised live on Sunday, November 6, on WABC-TV, Channel 7 in the New York tri-state area from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. ET, and for the rest of the nation on ESPN2 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. ET.