42.2 kilometres is no joke. Covering this distance – roughly 33,000 steps on foot – is physically exhausting. Any runner can attest to the months of dedicated training that is required to successfully complete such a task. This past Sunday, Canadian runner Kat Clewley topped this challenge by completing a marathon backwards – and in world record time I might add. Clewley ran the Road2Hope Hamilton Marathon with the official time of 4:48:42, qualifying her to hold the Guinness World Record for a woman.
While backwards running (also known as “retro running”) has yet to penetrate the mainstream North American running culture, the sport well-known in Europe – specifically, Germany and Italy. In light of Clewley’s impressive performance, she has been invited to compete at the Retro Running World Championship’s in Germany next July.
Clewley is no stranger to the world of sport, as a former Pan Am goalkeeper for team Canada’s soccer team and having competed in numerous endurance races, including the Boston Marathon, several 100-mile runs and an Ironman Triathlon. Despite these impressive athletic feats, Clewley claims that the task of running 42.2 kilometres backwards was the hardest thing she has ever done. As a Burlington YMCA manager, Clewley was driven to complete the marathon as a means to raise money for the YMCA after-school and summer program: Beyond the Bell.
Clewley credits her dog, Vanilla, for introducing her to the sport of retro running. Originally, it was simply a matter of keeping an eye on her during long runs while staying in motion. Evidently, this sparked a new challenge for Clewley and earlier this year she competed in her first backwards half-marathon – at which, she broke the standing record time for that as well.
Stay tuned for more information regarding Clewley’s progress on Canadian soil and on the world stage!
Tell us, have you ever ran a race backwards? Are you interested in taking on this unique challenge in the future?