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Running the world Submitted by Jodi Heckel on Mon, 02/21/2011 – 3:55pm

It was a gray, drizzly Monday morning when Tony Mangan set out on day 100 of running. His trip today would take him from Urbana to Farmer City, just a sliver of his goal of running around the world. The 53-year-old Irishman started his journey at the Dublin Marathon on Oct. 25, and it brought him through Central Illinois this past weekend.

Mangan was in Danville Saturday, and he spent Sunday night in Champaign at the home of Tracy Thomas, a fellow ultrarunner. The hospitality he’s received on his trip has far exceeded his expectations. He’s been able to find a home to stay in for much of his trip. He knew Thomas through ultraraces, and she arranged for places for him to stay through Central Illinois. Other times, he’s stayed with strangers who’ve opened their homes to him. “I can’t remember the last night I’ve had to rough it,” Mangan said. He’s also had other runners join him for portions of his trip. Thomas ran with him on Sunday. After a huge breakfast at Thomas’ house Monday morning that consisted of a saucepan full of oatmeal, four eggs, two yogurts and coffee, Mangan ran through town with Brian Kuhn of Champaign, also an ultrarunner. Meeting people — runners and non-runners — has been the most enjoyable part of the trip for Mangan. He makes it a rule to stop twice a day at a gas station, restaurant or bar to have a cup of coffee or something to eat and talk to people. He nearly always gets free refills on his coffee, and sometimes gets a free meal. The idea of running around the globe had been growing in his mind for 20 years before he set out. “It entered my mind after one of the great runner’s highs, the endorphin highs,” Mangan said. But unlike others who might dream of such an endeavor, then forget it when reality set in, the idea brewed in Mangan’s subconscious for years. He loved travel and has done a lot of long-distance biking. He read travel books and was attracted to stories of long-distance walks and runs. He began running around the time he turned 30, doing 10K races and marathons. Then he moved to Colorado in 1994, and in the eight years he lived there, he became an ultrarunner, racing in mountainous trail runs. Mangan had a successful career as an ultrarunner, setting world records for 48-hour runs on an indoor track (about 265 miles) and treadmill (about 251 miles). Then he decided it was time to pursue his dream of running around the world, so he left his construction job in Ireland and set out. He pushes a modified jog stroller he’s nicknamed “Nirvana,” that holds camping gear, clothes, food, spare inner tubes and tools, and his netbook computer and a few other electronic gadgets. Cart and contents weigh about 70 pounds. After running the Dublin Marathon, Mangan ran across Ireland to the westernmost town of Dunquin. He flew to North America and started running at the easternmost point, Cape Spear in Newfoundland. He’ll continue west to Colorado. Crossing the state will be a “major, major highlight. I love it so much. It’s like a homecoming for me,” he said. Then Mangan will head south for Mexico, Central America, and South America, where he plans to run to the southernmost point, Tierra del Fuego. One of the places Mangan is most anticipating is Peru, where he’ll make time to see Machu Picchu. “I spent a year previously in South America and never went to Peru,” he said. “It’s a sin. One of my biggest travel regrets. This time I’m going to put it right.” Mangan will fly from South America to New Zealand and continue through Australia, Indonesia, southeast Asia, China, Kazakhstan, Russia and back to Europe. He plans to finish his run with the 2013 Dublin Marathon, assuming he has no major injuries or illness that slow down his progress. By the end, Mangan will have covered between 26,000 and 27,000 miles — the equivalent of 1,000 marathons. He’s been averaging almost 200 miles a week, and he’s about to discard his eighth pair of running shoes. He takes a rest day when the opportunity arises or he feels he needs one. He recently ran 25 consecutive days before taking a rest day this past Saturday. He expects logistics to be more difficult in areas of the world that are more sparsely populated, and where he doesn’t know anyone or speak the language. He’ll need to carry more of his own water in some places, and get visas for China, Kazakhstan and Russia. For right now, though, it’s about running the next 25 or 30 miles. “It’s a great lesson for living in the moment, taking one day at a time,” Mangan said. But he has imagined what it will be like running those last 26.2 miles, remembering all the places he’s been. “When I’m running the last marathon in Dublin, I want to go through (my memories) like snapshots, all the way around my route.” Tony Mangan is documenting his run around the world on his website, www.theworldjog.com, where he regularly posts updates on his blog. The website also charts Mangan’s progress. Through his run, Mangan is raising money for Aware, an Irish charity devoted to treatment of mental health issues and eliminating the stigma of depression. Readers can link to information about the charity through Mangan’s website

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  1. Ann Says:

    Great article Tony, enjoyed the blog as usual


  2. Katheryn Cochrane Says:

    Great article Tony!! Keep up the great work! I think of you and Nirvana every time I’m out for a run!

    See you in Dublin 2013!

  3. brian linehan Says:

    That is one long straight road you are on. Infact all the roads on the sat map look very straight in that area.

  4. theworldjog Says:

    Thanks Brian. Yes they sure are. And limited services too. Today I went 20 miles before a place to have a nosh :)
    Prairies not too far away where one can see a tree 10 miles away! Tony.

  5. Tracy Thomas Says:

    Tony, You seem to be making great progress. Hope you have fun with Steve and Carol when you get there. Steve’s Buffalo Nick Name is LARD ASS, so don’t forget to call him that! Hope you enjoyed your stay with Matt and had fun discussing his upcoming 2,500 mile Pacific Crest Trail adventure! Wishing you well and hoping for good weather! Love you, Tracy

  6. Bob & Vera Betzelberger Says:

    Bob & Vera Betzelberger
    Hi Tony,
    You are always welcome at our house. I promise to restock the Ben and Jerry’s Caramel ice cream for your next visit:)May you always be blessed with a hot meal, a comfortable bed, and happy feet.
    Bob and Vera

  7. John Holland Says:

    Hi Tony, I’m really enjoying your blog….great reading…like the others , I think of your dedication when I’m getting a bit tired at the end of my run !!!! Keep it going ….we are voting here at home in Ireland to-day…. Best of Luck
    John H.

  8. Sarah Danner! Says:

    Hey Tony :) Big snow storm here in NY today, no school. I went out for a snowshoe run for a couple of hours and thought of you! Have a nice day! :D

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About Tony

I have always considered myself to be an average runner. In school, I was even bullied for I was a sports wimp. Through hard work, dedication, perseverance, self-belief and a strong mind I succeeded in not only running around the world but breaking four ultra running world records during my competitive career. Having previously cycled around the world I didn't start running until I was almost 30. Then I had a dream of running around the world. For many reasons, I waited for over 20 years. One reason was to establish my pedigree as an endurance athlete. I started and finished my world run as the current World Record-Holder for 48 Hours Indoor Track 426 kilometres (265 miles), a record I have held since 2007. I also broke and still hold the World Record for 48 hours on a Treadmill 405 kilometres (251 miles) in 2008. When I retired from competition, more pleasing than any of my world, European or Irish records I had the respect of my fellow athletes from all over the world - in my opinion, sports greatest reward - an achievement I am most proud of. Then I finally put myself out to pasture, to live my ultimate dream to run around the world! This blog was written on the road while I struggled to find places to sleep and to recover from running an average of 43.3 kilometres or 27 miles per day for 1,165 road days. There were many nights I typed this blog on a smart phone, so fatigued my eyes closed. Many journalists and endurance athletes have referred to my world run as the most difficult endurance challenge ever attempted. During my expedition I rarely had any support vehicles, running mostly with a backpack. In the more desolate areas I pushed my gear, food and water in a cart which I called Nirvana, then I sent her on ahead to run with my backpack once again over altitudes of almost 5,000 metres in the Andes. I stayed in remote villages where many people had never seen a white person before. I literally met the most wonderful people of this world in their own backyard and share many of those amazing experiences in this blog. My run around the world took 4 years. There were no short cuts, I ran every single metre on the road while seeking out the most comprehensive route across 41 countries, 5 continents, I used 50 pair of running shoes and my final footstep of the run was exactly 50,000 kilometres, (almost 31,000 miles) I eventually finished this tongue in cheek named world jog where I started, at the finish line of my city marathon. I started my global run with the Dublin Marathon on October 25th 2010 and finished with the Dublin Marathon on October 27th 2014 at 3 05pm! Thank you for your support, I hope you can share my unique way of seeing the world, the ultimate endurance challenge! Read more...


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