Some might call serial record-breaking marathoner and ultrarunner Mike Wardian an overachiever. We call him relentlessly dedicated. In addition to a lengthy list of podium finishes at marathons, half-marathons, 50k /100k and 100 Mile races, Michael has set world records for the fastest marathon and also 50K on an indoor 200-meter track. In March 2015, he also set the World Record for the fastest 50K on a treadmill (on his second attempt in two days).
Michael has also completed some of the most difficult races in the world like:
The Badwater Ultra marathon-135 Miles in Death Valley, CA in July
The Marathon des Sables-approximately 150 miles in the Sahara desert in Morocco
The Ultra Trail du Mount Blanc-appx. 100 miles with 28,000 feet of vertical assent travelling through 3 countries, France, Italy and Switzerland
The UVU North Pole Marathon with temperatures dipping below negative 40 Celsius.
In between feats like running two marathons in one day, and setting a world record for the fastest time running a marathon dressed as superhero (SpiderMan, 2011 Lower Potomac Marathon-since broken), Wardian has participated in the 2004, 2008, and 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials Men’s Marathon, recording a personal best of 2:17:49.
Wardian was the IAU Ultra Runner of the Year in 2010, and is a four-time USATF Ultra Runner of the Year from 2008-2011. He also won the 2014 USATF Master’s Athlete of the Year for both Roads and Trails.
He is a graduate of Michigan State University, where surprisingly, he played Division 1 lacrosse, only beginning to run competitively after graduating.
Michael resides in Arlington, Va with his wife and two sons, Pierce and Grant.
When I’m not training or competing, I love to: take adventures, hike, read, do activities with the family, build Legos, play games, and generally goof off with my wife Jennifer, our two sons Pierce (10 years) and Grant (8 years) and our Vizsla, Rosie.
A good title for my autobiography would be: Relentless
What first inspired you to push your potential? My parents, Vivienne & Dick Wardian. They always made me work for everything, and to this day, help and support me. They never allowed me or my brother and sister to settle. We were fully engaged in working hard, and I think that has stuck with me and allowed me to focus and push beyond what most people are willing to do.
My pre-race superstition is: I like to lay out all my kit and make sure I am not missing anything. Right before the start, I like to do a little shake out run/jog to test my body and make sure all is in order.
One thing I hope to achieve this year is: inspire someone, somewhere, to do more than they think they can. I hope they look at me – a normal guy, with a job and family living in an urban environment – and say, “If that dude can do it, why can’t I?” It doesn’t have to be running 100 miles, 50 miles, a marathon – it doesn’t have to be running at all – but whatever their passion is, I hope they embrace it and push the limits of what they can do.
The worst moment I’ve ever experienced in a race is: I have dropped out of three races during my time as an athlete, and those incidents still are etched into my mind. Nothing is harder to do than to have to stop short of your goal. I know that sometimes things happen, and conditions or circumstances force you to take actions you normally wouldn’t take, but if I start a race, then I want to finish it.
My favorite athletic moment or achievement to date is: qualifying for my first Olympic Trials in the Men’s Marathon way back in 2003. I thought when I set the goal of making the Olympic Trials that it was audacious, probably un-achievable, but I stuck with it. I made it, felt on top of the world, and still get tingles thinking about it. I am blessed and so very fortunate to have had a lot of incredible moments, and I look forward to having more in the future.
Nathan helps me run stronger and run longer by: giving me tools that allow me to focus on pushing my body to the limit. I don’t have to worry about my Nathan pack or bottles working – I know they work and will do what I demand of them. That gives me piece of mind to focus my attention elsewhere, like on the pace, the big rock coming up, or a massive climb!