Annual race returns to the nation's capital this Saturday, March 11; Local record setter, Michael Wardian, will lead the pack as a 6-time winner of the race
When you are a husband, a father with two young sons, an international ship broker and a world-class marathoner/ultramarathoner with some zany accomplishments, you multitask.
So for an interview covering a range of subjects leading up to Saturday’s United Airlines Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon and Half Marathon Washington D.C., 42-year-old Michael Wardian stepped on the treadmill in his D.C. office garage during lunch hour, set it on a 12-percent incline and chatted away.
The Arlington, Va., resident, began the day with a 10K jog to the office. His commute would include a return run home. He’s a six-time winner of the United Airlines Rock ‘n’ Roll Washington DC Marathon and will lace up the kicks again Saturday.
“What I like about running is I don’t care who you are, where you come from, what you’ve done in the past, it’s very finite,” said Wardian. “You do the work, you get the results. There’s no hiding. Running is really pure.”
The list of that-can’t-be-possible feats Wardian has pulled off stretch longer than any ultra-course. The Cliff’s Notes highlights: former world record for fastest marathon pushing a stroller; former world record for fastest marathon on a treadmill; former world record for fastest marathon on a 200-meter track; pending Guinness world record for fastest marathon wearing an Elvis costume; three-time U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier; ran the 2012 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in 2:21, got up the next morning and finished the Houston Marathon in 2:31.
In January, Wardian achieved arguably his most impressive accomplishment. He won the World Marathon Challenge, completing seven marathons in seven days on seven continents. Running, in order, Antarctica, Chile, Miami, Madrid, Morocco, Dubai and Sydney, Wardian averaged 2:45:57 per marathon.
He’ll be running closer to home Saturday, where he won the event’s marathon in 2006-07-08-10-11-12 and ran last year in a Spiderman costume.
About running in his hometown, Wardian said, “It’s terrific, one of my favorites. It’s a beautiful race, a great way to reconnect with the local culture, the running people in D.C. and a chance to see all the sites.”
With the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority metro system undergoing accelerated maintenance, there are a few changes to this year’s races.
Previously, the marathon and half-marathon both started together at 7:30 a.m. On Saturday, the marathon kicks off at 7 a.m. and the half marathon at 8:30 a.m. Several blocks on 14th Street between Madison and Jefferson have been set aside for shuttle service.
The half marathon and marathon courses feature a slight change from about 1½ miles through Mile 4. That route used to be off Memorial Bridge. Now it’s on portions of Rock Creek Parkway and Potomac River Freeway.
Course director Keith Dowling, a former 2:13 marathoner who was the first American-born finisher at the 2002 Boston Marathon, feels the United Airlines Rock ‘n’ Roll D.C. Half Marathon is an excellent prep for the Boston Marathon.
The D.C. course feature some early hills, and like Boston, allows runners to make up for any lost time with late descents.
“The mantra for runners is they have to keep the word ‘steady’ in their head,” said Dowling. “Keep that mantra, ‘steady effort.’ At 7½ miles, you’re at the top. By Mile 8, you get a release to the downhill portion. You’re going to get all that time back if you’re patient.”
Between the 5K, half marathon and marathon, nearly 24,000 runners from all 50 states and 52 different countries have entered Saturday’s races. The Family Stone will serve as the finish line headliner of the Toyota Rock ‘n’ Roll Concert Series.
Back to Wardian, running’s Energizer Bunny.
Told he must feel blessed to do what he does, he didn’t miss a beat while walking up the 12-percent treadmill incline.
“Especially after getting hurt,” he said. “Every day is something I cherish, and I do not take any day for granted that I’m able to do these things.”
About United Airlines Rock ‘n’ Roll Washington DC Marathon & ½ Marathon
The 6th annual United Airlines Rock ‘n’ Roll Washington DC Marathon & ½ Marathon will return March 11, 2017. Live bands and musicians will entertain participants as they run through our nation’s capital. The race concludes with a finish line festival and Toyota Rock ‘n’ Roll Concert Series featuring The Family Stone. A two-day Health & Fitness Expo kicks off the weekend on Thursday, March 9 and Friday, March 10. The Expo is free and open to the public and will feature the latest in running apparel, nutrition products, and all runner needs. For more information, please visit RunRocknRoll.com/dc or follow us on Twitter @RunRocknRoll.