A German man finished Prague's international marathon on Sunday running backwards, accomplishing what some running experts, sports reporters and fans deemed an impossible feat given his little training.
Ralf Klug, a 46-year-old technician living in Prague, met his goal of finishing the marathon within its time limit of seven hours. Awaiting official results, he said he clocked the 42.195-kilometre course in some 6 hours 50 minutes.
"I am quite OK. Just my calves are a bit burning," Klug told the German Press Agency dpa. His voice betrayed a mixture of ecstatic joy and fatique.
Running marathons backwards is not a novelty, yet it is not a widespread discipline. The fastest time of 3:43:39 hours was set by Xu Zhenjun, a Chinese runner, in 2004 in Beijing.
By completing the run, Klug made 126,000 koruny (6,218 dollars) for a Czech children's home, as a sponsor promised to donate 3,000 koruny per each completed kilometre.
Idea started at a party
Klug, a life-long amateur athlete who grew up in Kandern, a small town in south-western Germany, began training for the marathon in reverse gear on April 1, or April Fools' Day, a few days after the idea was born at a party.
He told dpa that running experts he consulted and sports reporters who interviewed him before the race found his plan unfeasible given the little time for preparation. "They told me today: honestly, nobody believed that you will manage," he said.
That does not mean that the backward run was easy. Klug said that he was not far from quitting at around the 27th kilometre owing to a lack of isotonic drinks.
But he overcame the low point and reached the finish line, his 11-year-old son accompanying him for the final 200-metre stretch.
Klug does not have any special recovery plans. I will "just stay with my family and rest," he said. - (Sapa, May 2010)