Marathon-a-day-man clocks up 19,500 miles to set record

Belgian runner Stefaan Engels set a Guinness World Record at the weekend after crossing the finish line on Saturday of his 365th consecutive marathon.

Engels, dubbed the "Marathon Man," began the extreme physical challenge a year ago in Barcelona. He competed a race a day in seven countries: Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Canada, Mexico, the UK and the US.

Engels said that he did it as a personal challenge and to be an example for others.

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"After running 20 triathlons in one year, I was not ready to go back to normal life," he said. "I also wanted to inspire people by showing that if I could run a marathon a day for an entire year, that anyone could run or bike a little each day or do something about their weight problem."

The 49-year-old Engels ran a total of 19,569 miles. He said the key was a slow pace over the 26.2-mile marathon distance.

"I recovery quickly. I don't run fast and my heartbeat is slow, below 100 if I run 10 kilometres, but it is more a mental story," he said. "The problem was thinking about running a marathon every day. I just told myself to run that day and did not think about the next day or next week."

Engels averaged around 4 hours to complete a marathon. He said his best time was 2 hours and 56 minutes.

"He ran every race, he never walked. He ran at a rate of 10 kph," said Angels Garriga, the spokeswoman of Engels' sponsor, the diet-control company Pronokal.

Engels had asthma as a youngster and doctors told him he should not participate in sport. But he decided to overcome his ailment and ran his first marathon at 25. He said his latest feat is the result of 35 years of exercise.

"There were a lot of moments when I thought 'Today, I won't finish,"' he said. "One of the hardest moments was in Mexico City after a long flight, the altitude and I had got sick from eating something, and I thought 'What am I doing here?"'

This was Engels' second attempt at the feat. He injured his leg 18 days into the first try about a year ago. .