Elite Runners Gear-up For Chaski Challenge “Festival of Records” World Record Attempts

Tayte Pollmann’s articles are supported by American Trail Running Association corporate member Nike Trail Running. You can follow Tayte’s adventures on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. If you liked this article, read even more of Tayte’s articles on our website.

The Chaski Challenge virtual & treadmill races are set for this upcoming weekend, June 5-6, and several elite trail runners will be challenging world records on the treadmill in the live, professionally broadcast “Festival of Records. This challenge will raise money for the Feeding America’s COVID-19 relief program.

For this article, I spoke with race director, participant and Hoka One One sponsored athlete, Tyler Andrews, as well as Renee Metivier, Mario Mendoza, Michael Wardian and Regina Lopez and Max King who about their challenge goals and why they are taking part in this event. To learn more about the races and how to follow the broadcast on the Chaski Challenge website.

The free LIVE broadcast begins 6:00 pm Eastern Time, Saturday, June 6, 2020.

Tyler Andrews running Peru’s Salkantay Trail. Photo Melanie Ng.

[TAYTE] How did you come up with the idea for the “Festival of Records” and what’s unique about putting on a virtual race like this?
[TYLER ANDREWS] We came up with this idea because we wanted to build something for the running world where people could participate both as runners and fans. It was built off an idea I had after setting the treadmill half marathon world record at the Boston Marathon expo back in 2015. I thought, “This would be way more exciting if it weren’t just me running up here”. I had the idea of having a real race where multiple people would be running next to each other on treadmills and you could have a display above showing their progress, etc. It was hard to find interest but that event popped back into my mind this spring and I realized now was the perfect time to do it. There are few other races happening and many athletes want something to do to test their fitness (and so many fans don’t have anything exciting to watch and talk about).

It’s definitely been logistically complex. We’ve got nine athletes across the country and one in the U.K. and we’re trying to coordinate live streaming and tracking of all of them. As the race director (and participant), it’s definitely been crazy, but I’ve loved seeing the excitement build from the athletes, fans, media, and sponsors – it’s a dream come true.

[TAYTE] You are racing the marathon en-route to 50-kilometers. What are your goals?
[TYLER] My goal is to absolutely destroy the current treadmill world record for 50-kilometers (2 hours and 56 minutes). I’ve run 2 hours and 46 minutes outdoors and I think I’m as fit as I was when I ran that and the treadmill will always run a bit easier at the same pace due to lack of air resistance. So, I’m going to go out fast and try to be as close to the overall world record (2 hours and 43 minutes and 38 seconds) as possible. That likely means coming through the marathon right around 2 hours and 18 minutes (the current treadmill world record is 2 hours and 20 minutes).

2017 USATF Trail Marathon Champions Renee Metivier and Mario Mendoza.

[TAYTE] How did you learn about this challenge?
[RENEE METIVIER] I heard about it from my friends Mario Mendoza and Tyler Andrews. It seemed like a fun and unique way to stay motivated right now. I recently did an interview recently on how the running community has been changed by the COVID-19 pandemic. We are seeing more participation in virtual events. I was excited when Mario and Tyler approached me to join because of the unique format of live streaming treadmill world record attempts. I’m not one to back down from a challenge – on the track, road, trail, and now the treadmill! My surgeries and comebacks have taught me not to take one step for granted, so hopefully I can inspire people to keep striving and having fun doing epic things.

[TAYTE] What are your goals for the challenge?
[RENEE] To set a record in the 50-kilometers while making it a fun competition along the way. I’ve shifted to speed development training this past month, so I know I have the wheels. I have never run a race on a treadmill, so that will be interesting. I hope to inspire people to keep finding ways to stay motivated and be ready for when racing together happens again. We are lucky as runners to be able to train responsibly alone, but also the virtual world of racing can bring us together. Run a 50-kilometer race, grab a beer, and enjoy the festivities while raising money for charity. Sounds perfect to me!

[TAYTE] How did you learn about this challenge?
[MICHAEL WARDIAN] I was lucky enough to have been approached by my friend Tyler Andrews regarding the Chaski Challenge Virtual Race. Tyler knows I enjoy testing myself and I don’t mind running on treadmills. In addition, I am always down to race on any surface and in any conditions. I’ve had success running on treadmills in the past and set a number of former world records that are being chased this weekend. It is incredible to see how many people have set treadmill records during the COVID-19 quarantine and I am hopeful that we can set new records.

[TAYTE] What are your goals for the challenge?
[MICHAEL] I am racing the 50-kilometers, which is an event I have raced on a treadmill many times and set numerous world records in. I don’t know if I have the leg speed right now to run the times I have in the past, especially as I have been training for longer events. I recently finished a huge dream project of running the Washington D.C. “Boundary Stones,” which was 59.9 miles with 4,568 feet of climbing. I am still going to push for a sub 3:00 hour 50-kilometers and see what happens.

[TAYTE] How did you learn about this challenge?
[MARIO MENDOZA] I received an invite from my friend Tyler Andrews to be part of this event. I had recently mentioned to a friend that since treadmill records have become a trend, it would be fun to have a treadmill challenge that was more of a race atmosphere with different athletes running at the same time. That’s exactly what Tyler has created! I personally think it’s a fun way to keep runners of all abilities motivated during these times.

[TAYTE] What are your goals for the challenge?
[MARIO] My goals are the same as the treadmill record event I ran back in January to inspire people to keep running. I’m grateful to do this sport that we can practice individually, without large crowds. Being able to fundraise for a great cause adds extra motivation. My running goal is to chase down the record of 6:40:35 for 100-kilometers. Anything past 31 miles will be a treadmill PR (personal record) for me and I’m hoping to be able to finish even if the effort doesn’t go well.

[TAYTE] How did you learn about this challenge?
[REGINA LOPEZ] I love going outside my comfort zone and trying new things, which strengthens my mind and makes me a better person. If I kept doing the same thing, I would still be the same person I was a year or even five years ago. I am grateful to be invited to participate with a group of elite athletes who believe in empowering our community during this tough time. To be a source of inspiration for other runners brings me joy.

[TAYTE] What are your goals for the challenge?
[REGINA] I am racing the 50-kilometers and was asked two weeks ago to race. The “warrior queen” in me never backs down from a challenge. This will be my first treadmill and 50-kilometer race. I am excited to go out there and give it my best. My goal is to break the world record for the 50-kilometer distance. I am confident that I can do it. I have the support of my community and people who love me. That is a win right there! I’m also running to bring awareness to Black Lives Matter movement.

ATRA executive director Nancy Hobbs with Max King at the 2019 Broken Arrow Skyrace.

[TAYTE] How did you learn about this challenge?
[MAX KING] I was running with my friend Mario Mendoza last week and he mentioned this race that Tyler Andrews was organizing. I guess I didn’t say no, so Mario gave Tyler my name and it’s really hard for me to say no to a challenge when someone asks.

[TAYTE] What are your goals for the challenge?
[MAX] My goal is to give Tyler a run for his money and to make it an exciting race. With a week’s notice, I don’t know that I’m in quite the shape I need to be to hold out for a whole 50 kilometers and to win in a head-to-head challenge against Tyler right now, but I’ll sure give it my best shot. I’ll at least hold out for getting under the old world record in the 50-Kilometers and setting a new masters record.