How Tim Peake ran the London Marathon in space

As good excuses for not running the London Marathon go, being 250 miles above Earth on the International Space Station is a positively golden one. Yet for some reason, British astronaut Tim Peake has chosen not to take it, and competed the London Marathon on a treadmill.

It’s not an ideal version of the race: a treadmill in a small cramped room, far from the cheering crowds and party atmosphere that’s synonymous with the London Marathon. Indeed, in a Q&A with journalists on Earth, Peake pointed out that the treadmill isn’t even located near a window, so he won’t be able to see his home planet as he puts in the miles.

Peake ran the marathon 17 years ago with an impressive time of 3hrs 18mins, but doing the same thing in space something different altogether, which is probably why he didn’t beat his own personal best. Instead, Peake ran the London Marathon in space in a time of three hours, 35 minutes, and 21 seconds – still not a bad time.

He’s been on the ISS for four months now, so will likely have lost muscle mass, and due to the differing gravity on the space station, treadmill runners have to be held down with bungee cords. “The toughest part has been getting used to a harness system. It’s like running with a clumsy rucksack on. You can get chafing around your hips and shoulders,” explained Peake.

But at least there’ll be no queues for the toilets, he pointed out.

It does have one possible advantage, though: injury recovery. Responding to a question from Channel 5 news, Peake explained: “In terms of recovery from race or running training, I think weightlessness is one of the perfect environments, because the moment you stop running and the moment you get off that bungee system your muscles are in a completely relaxed state, and I do think that we recover faster up here from any kind of aches or sprains or any muscular problems.”

Running a marathon in space may sound like something completely without precedent, but it actually isn’t. Back in 2007, Sunita Williams did the same thing with the Boston Marathon, managing to complete the 26.2 miles in 4hrs 24mins. 

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