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Wardian Goes Nowhere in Record Time

Thursday, December 16, 2004; Page D02

When Michael Wardian asked the race officials what time he should begin his marathon on Saturday, they said it was up to him, "and I was like, this is weird, I don't usually start the race," Wardian said. And when, after 2 hours 23 minutes 58 seconds, he had polished off 26.2 miles on a treadmill -- having set a world record for treadmill marathoners -- there was no finishers' tent, no commemorative T-shirt and no awards ceremony.

"I offered him a cheap medal that I had in my storage facility, but he politely declined," said local running store owner Chris Farley, who helped organize Wardian's eccentric effort to mark the opening of a new Pacers store on Clarendon Boulevard in Arlington.

Michael Wardian (Preston Keres -- The Washington Post)

An hour into the event, Wardian learned the drawbacks of treadmill racing when his machine temporarily shut down with a noise "like someone pulled the plug on an electric car," he said.

On the plus side, "you can control your pace really, really well on a treadmill -- you just program it in, and if you can't run it you fall off the back, you know?" explained Wardian, whose certified time, which he hopes will appear in "The Book of Alternative Records," was more than seven minutes better than the previous mark.

The 30-year-old, who ran in the 2004 U.S. Olympic marathon trials, is focused on the 2005 Boston Marathon but has not ruled out future trips to the more colorful fringes of his sport.

"I would like someday to run around the Beltway," he said. "I just don't know if I could get the police to support it."

-- Dan Steinberg

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