Michael Wardian is pretty much a road racing legend at this point. He doesn’t put up the all world times that gets the fan boys on the LetsRun message boards all worked up, but there’s nothing wrong with that. All he’s done is qualify for the Olympic Trials in the marathon a couple of times, set a couple of world records on the treadmill, and also win an astounding amount of races. In fact, it would seem that the only rest he gets is when he’s on a plane flying to the next race. I’m sort of convinced he sleeps while walking on a treadmill. We could probably put together a whole Chuck Norris-type list of things that Wardian has fictionally been responsible for.
Now Michael will once again be running the Vermont City Marathon, a race that he’s won before. Check out his list of accomplishments (which must be an abridged version):
- Hoka One One
- Nathan Performance Gear
- Elevation Tat
Recent Race Highlights:
- 2:27:20-Boston Marathon-2015, 4th Master
- 9:24-The North Face 50 miler Peru-2015
- 3:03-50k world record on treadmill
Marathon PR: 2:17:49 in 2011 at Grandma’s Marathon
Half Marathon PR: 1:06:30 in 2006 at Philadelphia 1/2
Other Racing Highlights:
- Olympic trials-2004, 2008, 2012
- 50k World Record holder, Treadmill and track
- UVU North Pole Marathon winner.
I believe he was running some children’s letters up to Santa from Virginia when he noticed a marathon going on in the North Pole, so he hopped into that and won it while carrying a hundred pounds worth of mail. See? There’s an entry right there for that Chuck Norris-type book. Okay, that one might be weak, but you get the idea. The guy is a machine.
His list of accomplishments up there is lacking. Sure, he ran a 2:27:20 at Boston. But what he neglected to mention was that he turned around and ran a 2:33:04 at the Big Sur Marathon the next week and came in second overall. That also made him the winner of their Boston to Big Sur category, which takes your total time from each race. His 5:00:24 aggregated time made him the winner by over 12 minutes. Like I said, he’s a machine. John Connor must’ve sent him back from the future to somehow save us from Skynet by running an incredible amount of fast marathons on very short rest.
Well, here’s our pre-race interview with Michael as he gets ready for Vermont:
Let’s start off with the topic at hand. Why do you keep coming back to VCM?
I keep coming back to VCM for the people, course, and race organization. It is such a well run, efficient and thoughtful event and for me a start to the summer. It has become a tradition. I am also hoping to win it someday and definitely would like defend my Master’s Win from 2014.
What’s most challenging about VCM?
I think the most challenging aspect of the VCM is to stay within yourself. There are some parts of the course that allow you to really fly and it is easy to get caught up in the buzz and run someone else’s race. I always find I wish I had a bit more in the tank at the end and if you do have anything left you are in a great spot against the competition.
Just how exactly can you race at the level you do as frequently as you?
I think ability to race at a high level week after week coming from my desire to push the limits of my body and mind and to see just what is possible. I love the challenge of it but also just being out there is such a joy for me.
Why is it that we don’t see more people doing that?
I think that other athletes have other goals and those goals might not align with competing on a more frequent basis. I don’t think there is one right way to do things and everyone should experiment with what works for them. That journey is what I think it is all about.
Have you seen others in the last couple of years that reminds you of…well, you?
I have definitely seen others that are doing what I do and I think that is great and love watching them and I support what they are doing. It makes it so fun and with social media being what it is you can cheer for people even more easily than in the past.
So what made you go after the 50k treadmill WR?
I was approached by Hoka One One one of my sponsors to see if I would want to give break 3 hours ago and I was like heck yeah but I already have The North Face 100k in Australia scheduled but we were able to defer my entry till 2016 so it worked out.
What do you like more about going for a big goal on treadmill than going for it on the roads?
I think going for a record on a treadmill allows everyone watching to see how much work is involved in running the times needed. Most people only see runners at a few points during the race but for a track race or treadmill there is not any downtime. It is full on the entire time.
What do you like more about going after it on the roads?
I think running a fast time on the roads is so authentic and real. It reminds me of the athletes in the seventies and eighties throwing down.
Olde School. We love that. You’re still rockin’ it on the road scene, crushing the treadmill circuit…ever consider giving competitive Eliptigo racing a shot?
I had the Eliptigo conversation with a few people over the last few weeks and of course I would love to hope into an Eliptigo race. I am up for whatever.
How did the Red Bull Wings For Life World Race get on your radar?
The Wings for Life World run got on my radar from Karl Meltzer, Sage Canaday and Ryan Sandes to name a few but also because I had a similar idea a few years ago but Red Bull came up with a better concept and I think the chance to cure Spinal Cord injuries is profound and that it really could be possible and that is super exciting.
Did you have any idea of your standing throughout the race?
I did not know my position in the world but I did know position in Melbourne
What did it mean to you to be the top American?
I actually did not think of myself as the top American because I was trying to win the whole event but it is darn cool to be the top USA athlete for sure.
— RunnersAndWiners (@pseudocajun) May 3, 2015
When you tell people about it, do you refer to yourself as the 3rd overall masters runner or the top non-Italian masters runner?
When I mention Wings for Life to people. I have been saying that I won Melboune and was top 10 in the world but will need to tweak that to include the Masters, that is really awesome.
What did you think of the experience overall?
I thought that the Wings for Life World run was incredible. Super well organized, conducted, great top level competition but also an incredible way for regular runners to push themselves in a new and unique way and think will do a ton of good for people.
What is the most embarrassing song that’s ever been stuck in your head during a race? The more embarrassing, the better.
Yikes, really run only a bit with music but am starting to race longer stuff with an iPod but have had some pretty bubble gym poppy songs stuck in head such as California Girls by Katie Perry and Snoop, Taylor Swift, she is my not so guilty pleasure lately. Going to have to get TS on my iPod. Wink.
Just over a week to go before a marathon, one that’s sure to be even more competitive than it usually is due to it’s USATF-NE championship status this year. What’s your training going to be like between now and then?
I have a little over 10 days till the race so want to focus on getting my legs turning over and also recovering from the 50k World record on May 12, 2015
You’ve done VCM a few times now. Is there a post-race tradition? Something that’s Burlington-specific?
Usually the post race tradition for VCM is to go back to the hotel after the awards and grab my stuff and head to the airport. But in the past my tradition was always to get a Ben and Jerry ice cream. Nice treat after a hard effort.
Best of luck to Mike as he undertakes the simple task of running only one marathon on one day. Sounds like a walk in the park for him. As usual, expect to see him in the mix near the front of the field. He’ll be extremely tough to take down in the masters race.