Nova Marathon ChallengeYou may have read about the Nova Marathon Challenge at this year’s Boston Marathon. Tufts University coach Donald Megerle and 3-time Boston winner Uta Pippig took a dozen people off of the street and trained them for the marathon over a span of 9 months.

Throughout the entire process, one person who was diabetic sustained multiple stress fractures and had to quit. She was replaced with a former NFL lineman, Steve DeOssie. Of the 13 people who were involved in the program, 12 of them made it to the starting line, and all 12 of them finished the race. All of the participants were sedentary and (technically) overweight before starting the program, and other than DeOssie none had spent much time exercising since college, if ever.

This just goes to show, anybody can run a marathon. I do not necessarily think that anybody should run a marathon, especially on only 9 months of training, but it is certainly a realistic and attainable goal. I ran for over 7 years before running my first marathon, and did not start running them regularly until 3 years after the first one. If it takes a goal like a marathon to force yourself to be active, though, then at least you are getting out the door.

The show aired on PBS on October 30th, but you can watch it online for at least the time being. I am unfamiliar with the PBS website, so I do not know how long they make their programs available. There are 5 chapters of about 12 minutes each that you can view. Click here if you want to watch the entire program in one sitting; it is about 1 hour long.

I found it very interesting to see how well they took care of the runners. Each member of the team (click here for team bios) went through a body composition test and VO2 Max test multiple times throughout their training. They had the Tufts University exercise nutritionist available to answer their questions and provide suggestions, and all of them came out of the experience healthier than they went in. Amazingly, 10 of the 13 team members are still running, although a few wish that they were running more than they have been.

I recommend watching the program and then browsing around on the website. The site includes the diaries of 4 of the runners, tips for new runners, and various interviews and suggestions from the experts that were involved in the project.