Road running

Mayank Vaid gets into Guinness Book of World Records for 10-day marathon

Growing up in an Army family in Himachal Pradesh, running has always been a way of life for Mayank Vaid. Now a corporate lawyer based in Hong Kong, the 45-year-old is known for running where others do not tread. In his latest achievement, the ultra-athlete has broken into the Guinness Book of World Records for recording the fastest time for running 10 marathons in 10 days on a treadmill.

Vaid completed the 422-km distance in 31 hours, 21 minutes and 58 seconds over a period of 10 days – slashing more than seven hours off the previous best time.

“I grew up reading the Guinness Book of World Records. The athletic side of it didn’t attract me much then, I was fascinated by those with the longest nails, longest hair. Now I feel like I’ve become a comic-book character,” Vaid said about getting into the book of world records for human achievements.

For the Himachali native who went to 13 schools in the space of 12 years during his early years in India, testing the limits of human endurance has always been second nature.

“My childhood was like a permanent state of transit. But, it was all a part of the larger package that felt more like fun than hardship. For a number of years, my mother lived in fear of losing my father to a bullet or a landmine. She seemed to accept this fate,” Vaid told The Bridge.

“From horse-riding to golf, skiing, fishing and gymnastics, any excuse to stay outdoors was accepted. Whether it was the low-wire entanglement, Tarzan assault course, traverse ropes, frame cargoes, ramps, rigs, it was all about having fun. My father very boldly called this the University of Life,” he added.

Vaid has fond memories of the Himachali dham – the traditional multi-course meal which is served on a pattal and is enjoyed as a communal feast while squatting on the floor. But in Hong Kong, where he scripts most of his superhuman achievements these days, he is mostly surrounded by well-wishers from the running community who rally behind his feats.

Mayank Vaid runs at the Hong Kong Football Club

When Vaid was completing the last of his 10th marathon on the final day of his feat, he had a bunch of his friends cheering him on. One person kept ringing a cowbell to egg him on.

“On the final run I wanted to go sub-3. I was holding on with my finger nails because I was going to break 3 hours by seconds. My body was already feeling the last 9 days of running. But I knew it that I had to hit it big in the end. Few good friends encouraged me a lot. The cowbell was a huge boost to me. It’s rung by Andre Blumberg who is the founder of Hong Kong Four Trails Ultra Challenge. That gave he a huge boost to push harder,” he said.

The previous world record for running 10 marathons in 10 days had the average time for the marathons at 3 hours and 50 minutes. Vaid’s slowest marathon was his first, 2 hours and 18 minutes. His fastest was the final marathon, at 2:59:43.

On how running for so long on a treadmill is different from running a similar distance on the open road, Vaid said, “Treadmill running is mundane and repetitive. Plus it’s hard for the quads and hamstrings. I enjoy running without music or watching any media. I like to zone out into my own world and create loops for 5 or 7km. On a treadmill one doesn’t have to deal with the elements and tarmac or rocks. Mentally road running is more engaging but harder for the body especially if it’s a hot or humid day.”

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