Bjørn Tore Tavanger set the Guinness World Record last year for the longest distance run on a treadmill in 24 hours by a man. But what made him take on the challenge? What went through his mind during the run? And who was his favourite celebrity guest runner? Read on to discover more about the Norwegian distance-runner.
What inspired you to take on the 24-hour treadmill challenge?
I organised the attempt together with my family at Aktiv365 and my local newspaper, Bergens Avisen (BA). BA streamed the event for the whole 24 hours. We had the best treadmill in the world and I had a new celebrity on the treadmill next to mine every hour. The greatest celebrity was Kygo.
I wanted to give it a shot above all because of two things. Firstly, to break the Guinness World Record, of course. And secondly, I wanted to raise money for all the children at Bergen city’s local hospital, Haukeland Sykehus. We raised $12,350 USD in the end. The organisation, Haukelands Venner, distribute the money to the children who need it most, and, knowing that all the money we raised is helping a lot of people who really need it, really inspired me.
How did you prepare for the record attempt?
I train a lot. I run somewhere between 245 and 260 kilometres every week throughout the year. I’m the strongest person mentally, probably the strongest in the world, even if I say so myself. I always run my second running session on my own treadmill at home, which helped for the record attempt. I used the HOKA Napali for training and the record itself. And, of course, I hung yellow post-it notes for two months all over my house telling me that I was going to break the Guinness World Record!
What went through your mind while you were running?
Everything and nothing. I was focused on not falling off the treadmill. I just tried to keep one foot in front of the other. I set my treadmill to 11.1 km per hour from the start, and kept that speed for the first 23 hours. I managed to increase the speed for the final hour and ran the last 15 minutes at 13.2 km/hour! It was just awesome having all the celebrities on my side cheering for me too. This offered a welcome distraction.
Can you briefly describe the story of the 24 hours?
Just before the race started, we had the Superman theme blasting out on the loud speakers. When I started to run, we played the song Run by the Swedish band Nomy. After 6 hours and 7 minutes, I fell off the treadmill! I was talking too much to my friend and the Norwegian rower, Ulrik Wie, while eating Mr Lee, a hot boiled soup with pasta and chicken. Apart from that, it when really well. That’s rock ‘n’ roll. I didn’t hurt myself at all! I stopped eating the pasta and went over to pizzas!
The most difficult part was between hours 15 and 16 – because I really needed to take a pee! Right after I finished my 16th hour of running, I quickly nipped to the toilet for the first time since I started running. I only had to go to the loo once during the day, and from hours 16 to 18, I knew I was going to crush the Guinness World Record! That was an awesome feeling.
What was the atmosphere like?
The crowd and atmosphere was amazing. It really couldn’t have been any better. People were crazy! I had a blast for 24 hours. There was so much support from all the celebrities, me being a circus by myself, family, and all my musician friends – William Hut, Molly Go Go, Subshine – who played pop and rock on the sidelines. Awesomeness!
What does your family think?
All of them still think that this is by far the most amazing thing they have ever witnessed. The atmosphere during the last hour was totally electric. My family and friends were helping out throughout the event and everybody did an amazing job. To have my wife and little girl on the sideline as I finished the job was amazing. There were a lot of happy tears.
And where do you go from here?
I’m going for the gold medal in the World Championships of 24 hours Running in Albi, France from 26-27 October. It’s going to be like 420 people form 75-80 different nations competing. The gold medal is coming home to Norway!
Photo credit: Rune Johansen, Bergens Avisen