It smells like warm farts in the Hynes Convention Center on Sunday, the last day of the Boston Marathon Expo. Jenna Wrieden, a 29-year-old collegiate cross country coach from High Point University, has been hammering for more than an hour at just over six-minute-per-mile pace on a 'roided-up treadmill in an attempt at a treadmill half marathon world record.
"I felt bad for the people in front of me," Wrieden said after she smashed the old record by fourteen minutes, running 1 hour, 20 minutes, 39 seconds. She started feeling nauseous around mile 11 of the 13.1-mile race, and she would have had no problem yawning over her shoulder to throw up without breaking stride. As a not-so-professional runner, seldom do you get the chance to set a world record.
Yeah, sure, the treadmill half marathon world record is gimmicky as hell, and the hundred-odd spectators probably stumbled onto the scene between energy bar samples and trips to the bathroom. But the hype men from Pro-Form Fitness, the treadmill-maker, whip them up into sporadic cheering, an accomplishment for an event that takes over an hour and appears static.
Wrieden does not like treadmills. They're monotonous, she says. "I just love the feel of nature." But the self-described "average" runner never thought she'd be a world record-holder at anything, and now that she's got it, she'll probably hold it for years to come.
It's not that professional runners can't run that fast—the world record for women on the roads is just over an hour and five minutes—but professional runners don't contest the treadmill record, largely because there's no prize money in it. Wrieden's record is safe mostly because it's a vanity mark that no one will want to attempt again.
So as she closed in on the last .1 miles, knowing the record was hers, she waved for the crowd to cheer one final time.
"I think I'm going to stick outdoors for awhile," she says, "so I was milking it."