Arlington's Michael Wardian sets indoor 200-meter track marathon record

By Amy Shipley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, July 3, 2010

For Michael Wardian, the tedium of racing around a 200-meter indoor track 221 times Thursday night was offset by a few positives:

Wardian, 36, a U.S. champion at 50 kilometers, got to see his mother about once every 41 seconds, repeatedly passing the aid station she oversaw adjacent to the running oval at Arlington's Thomas Jefferson Community Center. His wife and two sons, accustomed to seeing Wardian blow past once or twice during outdoor marathons, watched him compete in the entire unusual 26.2-mile race from a set of bleachers that overlooks the track.

And there was this, too: Wardian broke a world record set in 1928.

Wardian finished the dizzying endeavor in 2 hours 27 minutes 21 seconds, crushing the previous best on an indoor 200-meter track of 2:34:54, set by 1924 Olympic bronze medal winner Joie Ray in Boston.

"I was worried about what I would be thinking about, that it would be boring, but after a couple of miles, it was great," Wardian said. "I realized I don't have to worry about anything. Just focus on racing and run."

There was the occasional volleyball that rolled across the track from courts set up inside the oval, but Wardian found the course otherwise obstacle-free. Seven others began running with him, and four finished. Hagerstown's Andy Mason, 38, was second in 2:50:47.

Three official timers were on hand to record the event and ensure that Wardian's record would be ratified by the world track and field governing body (IAAF). A handful of curious onlookers -- some of whom happened to venture into the community center for their daily workouts -- served as enthusiastic fans.

"It was fantastic," Wardian said. "They want us to come back and do it again."

Wardian, who has competed in more than a dozen races of marathon-length or beyond this year, plans to run a trio of 5-kilometer races this weekend.

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