British astronaut Tim Peake participated in the London Marathon from space earlier on Sunday. The 44-year-old joined 37,000 other athletes to run the 26.2-mile London Marathon strapped to a treadmill on board the International Space Station (ISS) orbiting Earth somewhere above the Pacific Ocean.
He participated in the London Marathon from space dressed in red sports vest and black pants with the British flag behind him. He used elastic straps over his shoulders and waist to counter zero gravity and keep his feet in contact with the treadmill.
To enhance the feeling of actually participating in the London Marathon going on 250 miles below him on Earth, the 44-year-old astronaut had an iPad called RunSocial placed under his feet so he could participate real-time in the race through a digital version of the streets of the London. The simulation was designed to make the streets of London pass faster when he ran faster.
Peake’s race in space on board the ISS was monitored through live footage at the European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut center in Cologne. When he finished the race, staff at the center cheered and applauded.
Marco Frigatti, a representative of Guinness World Records was present at the center to confirm Peake’s time.
After the race, Frigatti said, “It is official. Tim Peake is the proud holder of a Guinness World Record title.”
Speaking on phone with his medical support crew at the ESA astronaut center in Cologne after the race, Peake said, “This morning was fantastic.”
While some sources said he became the first man or astronaut to complete the marathon in space, The Guardian and Gizmodo confirmed he was not the first astronaut to complete the marathon in space. The first astronaut to run and complete the marathon in space was Sunita Williams, who ran alongside the 2007 Boston Marathon in four hours, twenty-four minutes.
But Peake may be considered to have set a new record for the fastest marathon in space, having beat Williams’ record of four hours 24 minutes by running the marathon in three hours and 35 minutes and 21 seconds (3:35:21).
But strictly, it is not possible to compare Peake’s race with Williams’ because both astronauts ran under different harnesses and loads.
And while Peake’s performance is remarkable for a space marathon, he came far behind the time recorded by the winner of the race on Earth. Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge completed the London Marathon in a breathtaking 2:03:05, the second fastest time ever.
“Running a marathon in general seems like an insane proposition to me, but running it in space? That’s just awesome.”
Peake’s best performance running the marathon on Earth was in 1999 when he completed the race in 3:18:50, about one-quarter of an hour faster than his performance in space.
Peake also acted as the official starter of the race from space. He sent the runners a video message from space before the race commenced. He ended the message expressing “hope to see you all at the finish line.”
He also took to social media, tweeting a photo of London with the message, “Hello #London! Fancy a run? :).”
He then proceeded to join the race competing with the runners from space. Two runners on Earth ran the race wearing replica Russian suits.
“Running a marathon in general seems like an insane proposition, but running it in space? That’s just awesome,” Gizmodo commented.
Peake will spend a total of six months in space. He has so far been in space for about four months. Astronauts in space engage in daily exercise routines to keep their muscles, bones and hearts from atrophying due to the effects of weightlessness.
[Photo By Dmitry Lovetsky/AP]