Kelly Hayes, a spotter on NBC’s Sunday Night Football, is attempting to to complete “The Running Decathlon” which consists of the ten most widely-run track events. His goal is to run each race “half as fast,” or in twice the time, of the current world record in each event. And he will attempt to run these races in the footsteps of those who set the records on the very tracks, and in the very stadiums where the records were set.
His “quest” serves as a platform to raise funds to purchase a $90,000 exoskeleton Bionic Suit, which allows those with critical spinal injuries to rise from their wheelchairs and actually take assisted walks. Think Tony Stark from Ironman. He is relying on donations to the Bridging Bionics Foundation to make this a reality.
Follow Kelly on his journey, which begins in Rome on July 7, 2016, here, on Facebook, Twitter and at race2walk2016.com where you can make a 100 percent tax-deductible contribution towards the purchase of an exoskeleton Bionic Suit for the Bridging Bionics Foundation. One hundred percent of your donations will go towards the purchase of these suits.
Please turn Kelly’s steps into dollars. And we will turn dollars into steps for those who want to walk again.
Eighteen years ago, Hicham El Guerrouj set a record that is currently the longest-standing world record in the 10 events that make up The Running Decathlon.
On July 14, 1998, at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome in the Golden Gala meet, El Guerrouj, inspired by both immortality and a $50,000 bonus for a world record, ran the 1,500m in 3:26.00. He averaged an incredible 54.93 per lap in breaking the standing mark of Algeria’s Noureddine Morceli by more than a full second.
There was justice in the victory. Just two years before, at the Olympic Games in Atlanta, El Guerrouj suffered a devastating defeat to Morceli in the same 1,500 meters. As the pair jockeyed for position at the start of the fourth and final lap of that Olympic final, El Guerrouj clipped Morceli’s right foot and tumbled to the track. Displaying incredible fortitude, he rose to finish the race, but his dream of a gold medal ended with a 12th-place finish.
The legend is that El Guerrouj, distraught and seemingly inconsolable, took tearful refuge in the bowels of the Olympic Stadium in Atlanta. There, he received a telephone call from Morocco’s King Hassan, who not only consoled him in his defeat, but also urged him to run his best in the future.
El Guerrouj went on to victory in a number of races over his rival over the next two years and today, still, he holds world marks in the 1,500m, the Mile and the 2,000m. He also still holds indoors records in the 1,500m and the Mile that date back to February of 1997.
And gold would eventually be his as well. In the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, his final as a competitor, El Guerrouj won the 1500 meters that had eluded him in his two previous Games (he finished second in 2000 in Sydney to Kenyan Noah Ngeny who had paced the 1,500-meter record run in Rome two years before) and doubled up with a gold medal in the 5,000 meters.
Current NBC commentator, and former miler, Craig Masback, told Sports Illustrated back in 2001 that El Guerrouj “has the cardiovascular system of a man 6-foot-6, the legs of a man 6-foot-2 and the upper body of a man 5-foot-2. In his prime he stood 5-foot-9 and weighed in at a sleek 126 pounds.
But, as a middle-distance runner, he towered above all who came before. Or since.
Other Standards in the 1500m
Olympic Record: 3:32.07 Noah Ngeny (KEN)
Women’s Record: 3:50.07 Genzebe Dibaba (ETH)
American Record: 3:29.30 Bernard Lagat (USA)
** Lagat ran the third-fastest 1,500m ever in 2001 in a race where he finished second to El Guerrouj in Brussels. At the time, he was a Kenyan citizen. He became a citizen of the United States in 2004 and set the American standard in 2005.
Men’s 60-year-old Record: 4:24 Nolan Shaheed (USA)