This Ultrarunner Broke The 50K Treadmill Record In Under 3 Hours
It may not have been the most glamorous or conventional of stages for a world record attempt to take place on, but the anticipation surrounding the event eclipsed all aesthetic trimmings. There, in the centre of Madras High School’s gymnasium, Mario Mendoza Jr. prepared to mount the treadmill and run at breakneck speed. And in the bleecher seats that lined the gym, crowds of people – young, old, former students and those merely visiting – all gathered to cheer him on.
Mendoza certainly gave them all something to cheer about. In the high school gym, after running exactly 31 miles (approx. 50km), the ultrarunner stopped the machine and stepped on the side rails for his first break in under three hours. It didn’t matter that the machine had been stopped or that Mendoza was seeking a rest period for his legs. He’d already set the record: he had finally achieved the world record for the fastest 50km on a treadmill.
At 33-years-old, the record was a big accomplishment for Mendoza. But it was made all the more special thanks to his involvement in a local youth organisation in Madras, Oregon, where Mendoza runs a youth club with almost 20 participants, providing meals to students in need and providing games, activities and social interactions.
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ALL IN! Those were the words written on the blue t-shirts that the Madras High staff were wearing. They want these kids to know we are ALL IN for them. We believe in them, we are here for them, but we do expect them to do their part. Not giving up is a talent of the human spirit. It’s a talent that I value more than any physical talent. Don’t give up! . . [ESP] TODO DENTRO! Esas fueron las palabras cual el personal de la escuela escogió para las playeras. Quieren que estos chicos sepan que están comprometidos a darles lo mejor que tienen. Creemos en ellos, estamos aquí por ellos, pero esperamos que ellos también hagan su parte. No darte por vencido es un talento en el espíritu humano. Es un talento a cual le doy mas importancia que cualquier talento físico. No te des por vencido! . . @steelehaugen
The previous record was set in 2015 by Michael Wardian, who recorded 50km on a treadmill with 2:59:49. Mendoza set out to break this record as a fundraiser for his youth programs, and he managed to raise more than $US4,000. Mendoza managed to snag the record with 2:59:03, beating the previous record by 46 seconds.
To train for the event, Mendoza mixed outdoor runs with treadmill runs. When indoors, he apparently tried a variety of methods like covering the screen so as not to see his distance and pace, before deciding to keep it visible.
Speaking to Runner’s World, Mendoza said about the achievement: “What made me nervous was the gym didn’t have air conditioning, so I knew it would get hot. I could do this in a room with cold air and make it comfortable, but the record itself is kind of silly. It was more about what we can do for the kids and show them what it takes to do something big.”
If Mendoza’s name sounds familiar, it should. Since 2013, the runner has made a name for himself on the circuit, boasting five US trail national championships in the 10K (2013), marathon (2015, 2017), 50K (2015), and 100K (2018). He’s represented Team USA on trails around the world and has even had a number of podium finishes at races like the Lake Sonoma 50 Miler and Flagstaff Skyrace.