Like most athletes, Michael Miraglia has a competition mantra: “In the future, let yourself worry.” However, unlike most athletes, Michael’s path is paved with pain on that freezing morning in February: a 250-pound tire change, a 300 -Pound yoke walk and a 70-pound farmer’s carry for a full mile each. That’s because the 29-year-old fitness trainer is running the world’s first strongman marathon, a race of his own sadistic design.
During the grueling nine hours and 18 minutes at Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah, the former rugby-turned-climber grunted the elite obstacle-course racer-turned-CrossFitter, wearing a 20-pound weight vest, alternating every mile through 14 miles Running with a different strongman movement. In addition to changing tires, yoke strolls, and carrying the farmer, there were burpee long jumps, a “dummy” fire brigade stretcher, handstand stroll, 200 pound sled push, 200 pound sled drag, 200 pound sandbag stretcher, and a kettlebell – Throw and walking lunges.
And while the endeavor would result in almost every muscle being overused, it would also present a tremendous mental challenge. If the landscape was endless miles of frozen salt with no screaming onlookers, and the reward for freeing a muscle group from its flood of lactic acid was the chance to pound on another set, how did he find the mental rigor to endure?
It was pitch black and well below freezing by 6:00 a.m. when Miraglia stood at the start line and watched his breath hang in the air. Next to him were his girlfriend, his father and a camera team from his sponsor, the clothing company Ten Thousand. Moving back and forth between three eight hundred yards markings, Miraglia ticked off every mile, living mostly on warm chicken broth and 80-cent packets of ramen to get electrolytes and loads of banana bread to keep glycogen stores up fill it up (and “because I like a lot of bananas,” admits Miraglia.