When we first met the hero of our story, Jussi, he was trekking through the cold in his native Finland on a promise he made for winning an Endomondo challenge. But his story goes way back. All the way to 2009 and to a resolution he set for himself, which marked a turning point in his life.
At the time, Jussi, who weighed over 150 kgs, was not at the top of his game. He was dealing with a slew of health issues, including metabolic syndrome and early signs of diabetes.
Now, with over 3,600 workouts tracked on Endomondo, and multiple race bibs on his wall that stand as a testament to his journey, he’s made a dramatic shift towards becoming a super-athlete. Thanks to that, he’s now ready to take on the ultimate challenge.
This Saturday, October 8th 2016, Jussi will attempt to break a World Record: the fastest marathon while wearing a 27,22 kg backpack. He’ll be going for the record at the 2016 Vantaa Marathon in Vantaa, Finland.
Training to break the World Record
The current World Record holder of the “fastest marathon carrying a 60 lb (27,22 kg) pack” is Toru Sakurai, an army instructor from Japan. Toru’s current record is 4 hours, 39 minutes, and 9 seconds, and he set it at the Tokyo Marathon back in February 2013. Now, Jussi, the Finnish self-proclaimed “formerly obese computer geek” will contend for the title and run up against the current record holder’s incredible marathon time.
We asked Jussi what exactly motivated him to take on this challenge, and he shared these inspirational words.
“Ever since I started running, pure survival has been the biggest motivator for me. First, I wanted to survive a half marathon, then a marathon, an Ironman and so on. Now, with the backpack on, the feeling of fighting for survival is really back. Also, I just find the idea really motivating — that heavy/obese people are actually really strong. You just don’t realize that beforehand.”
— Jussi, on motivation
When asked about why he is contending for the World Record, he summed up the origin story behind the goal.
“When I ran my first marathon in 2011, I weighed about 127 kg. I was looking for a new goal and something new to get motivated about, and I realized that it would be cool to kind of relive that experience. This time, I’m carrying 27 kg of weight in my backpack instead of on myself. And when I found out that there is an existing Guinness World Record for running a marathon with a 60 lb pack (27.22kg), I was out of excuses”.
— Jussi, on contending for the World Record
We have high hopes for Jussi, since he’s been preparing for this event in true superhero style. He first started running with a weighted vest a year ago, and worked up his strength with plenty of indoor rowing workouts.
In April 2016, he created his marathon training plan on Endomondo, so he would be ready to take on the marathon in October. Since he was training for a unique marathon goal, Jussi told us that he made an adjustment to his training. According to him, “I followed the marathon program as usual, but replaced about half of the runs with a backpack where I gradually added weights”.
He’s even run 4 half marathons since September to get a feel for what’s to come on Saturday. In between runs, Jussi recovers by walking his dog, spending time with his family, and, in true Finnish form, relaxing at the sauna.
He’s also been keeping up with his nutrition to fuel properly for the event.
“Beetroot juice is my secret race fuel. It was actually during the Amsterdam Marathon in 2011 when I first read an article about its benefits for endurance sports…and it’s been part of my race ritual ever since. I also eat a lot of tomato soup spiced up with an insane amount of chili. This seems to be the perfect recipe for hunger control, which helps curb my binge eating 🙂 On energy gels, I usually pick those with high caffeine content. Otherwise, nothing special.”
— Jussi, on training nutrition
Safe to say, this is one serious contender, and we are thrilled to be part of his fitness journey. To share Jussi’s journey too and watch history in the making, follow his workout on Endomondo live, October 8th at 11:00 AM CET on this site.
Bring on the pep talks…
The Endomondo Team