REHEBOTH BEACH, Del. (AP) - Michael Wardian has tackled world records and distances of 100 miles and more, but the ultramarathoner still enjoys running local 5Ks at the Delaware beaches.
Wardian, 43, lives in Arlington, Virginia, with his family, and his in-laws live in Rehoboth Beach. He’s been coming to the area and running 5Ks there since the late 1990s, he said.
The running community is great, both in Delaware and other places, he said.
“I think it’s really inclusive,” Wardian said.
Wardian’s weekly mileage ranges from about 70-110 miles, he said. He usually runs about a 10K, or 6.2 miles, to and from his job as an international shipbroker at Potomac Maritime LLC, and he exercises at lunch sometimes, too.
Some weeks, he logs even more miles than that. Earlier this year, he ran seven marathons on seven continents in seven days in the World Marathon Challenge, a total of 183.4 miles. And he ran them in world record time - his average time for the seven marathons was 2:45:57, according to the World Marathon Challenge website.
But despite excelling at longer distances, he is also fast in the 5K, which is 3.1 miles.
This summer at the Delaware beaches, he ran Races2Run’s Outlet Liquors 5k at the Ivy and the Christmas in July 5k and Seashore Striders’ Beach Paper Firecracker 5k and the Run for JJ 5k.
His times, respectively, were 16:17, 16:20, 16:28 and 16:30, according to the race companies’ websites. He won this year’s Beach Paper Firecracker 5k and the Christmas in July 5k.
“I think it’s a great way to really kind of see where your speed is,” he said of the 5K distance.
Wardian is still fast enough to go up against much younger competitors, said Wayne Kursh, chairman/CEO of Races2Run.
And at the races, he’s friendly and talks with fellow runners, Kursh said. Plenty of them want to get their photo with Wardian, he said.
“He doesn’t say no to anybody,” Kursh said.
It’s clear from a post on the Certified Running Nuts Facebook group soliciting runners for this article that local runners see him the same way Kursh does. Several runners shared comments and photos of themselves with Wardian.
Jules Woodall is a local runner who said he met Wardian at the Beach Paper Firecracker 5k.
“What impressed me is at the next day Ten Sisters 5K, he remembered me on the way back from the turn around and shouted out my name,” Woodall wrote. “I am sure he had met plenty of people, but remembered me on the race course. Amazing!”
Carla Phillips Yngve shared a photo of Wardian with her daughter, Maya Yngve, at last year’s Red White & Blue 5k.
“Couldn’t ask for a nicer guy,” she wrote. “Gave my daughter, Maya, her birthday cake after a 5K!”
Sandra Waldee-Warden got the chance to run with him at 2016’s Outlet Liquors 5k. After finishing the race, Wardian came back to join Waldee-Warden, who had a broken kneecap, she wrote.
“(H)e said I was HIS hero for being out there like this!!!!” Waldee-Warden wrote. “He stayed with me the whole way in!!! Class act!”
Wardian emails Kursh when he’s planning to come to the beach races, Kursh said, and Kursh is happy to comp entries for him.
“I enjoy watching him interact with other runners,” he said.
Local runner Martin Rodriguez has run in races with Wardian this year and last year, and Rodriguez said they follow each other on Strava, a running social media app. Rodriguez volunteers with Seashore Striders and signed Wardian up for the Run for JJ 5k.
Rodriguez described him as a nice person and friend to everyone. He’s motivating for those finishing their races, too, he said.
“He’s a real gentle individual,” Rodriguez said.
Rick Poppleton, a runner who lives in Alexandria, Virginia, but is often at the beach, met Wardian on a track about 20 years ago. He spoke of Wardian’s running in a way that showed he’s impressed.
“He’s so fit it’s ridiculous,” Poppleton said.
And distance doesn’t seem to matter for Wardian, he said.
“He’ll do any kind of race,” Poppleton said.
Wardian always has a race on the horizon. On Aug. 1, he was looking toward his first beer mile over the weekend - a race that involves drinking four beers over the course of a mile - even though he doesn’t normally drink beer. The beer mile is at night, and that morning, he’s running a 50K.
The weekend after that, he’s running a 10K and a 100-miler - the Leadville Trail 100, he said.
Among the events on his race schedule for the rest of the year, which can be found on his website, www.mikewardian.com, are the Fenway Park Marathon, a charity event held inside Fenway Park, and the Ultra Gobi 400K in China.
Wardian, who has pending world records for the fastest marathon run in an Elvis costume and the fastest 50K run on a treadmill, likes to challenge himself. He plans to serve as a guide for a visually impaired runner later this year, he said, and in the past he’s run blindfolded.
“I’m always trying to evolve as an athlete and a person,” Wardian said.
Information from: The Daily Times of Salisbury, Md., https://www.delmarvanow.com/
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