Tim Peake, a British astronaut, has become only one of two people to have ever completed a marathon in space, the other being American Sunita Williams, who achieved the feat back in 2007. He completed the marathon aboard the space station’s treadmill and started at 1000 hours GMT just as the 33,000 participants started below in his native country below and finished it in an impressive time of 3:18:50. He had previously completed the marathon only once back in 1999, and since he was in space with less gravity, he needed to be much more resilient to finish this one!
The T2 treadmill that he used is specifically designed to create a realistic experience just like on Earth itself. It works in such a way that the shaking of the rest of the station is avoided and while the user has to employ enough downward force simulating the running on Earth. So, if you think he floated his way across the marathon, you are dead wrong!
What made it even more challenging for Peake is that he had already undergone 18 weeks worth of muscle and bone loss while orbiting the Earth. In space, the microgravity affects astronauts more than anything, and recent experiments have showed us how much the human body can suffer while in the orbit. It is also one of the prime reasons why longer space odysseys like the trip to Mars are still a far cry because we don’t know to what extent the body can get damaged over the years of travelling it will require to reach that planet. Probably a lot and certainly a return trip is not possible with this level of deterioration.
To complete the marathon, Peake had adhered to a strict diet and exercise regime onboard the space station. Originally, when he started out he wanted to complete the marathon at a fixed 7.5 mph speed (12 Km/h). But, as his shoulder straps began to weigh in, he had to increase his speed to save his shoulders from fatigue. He also planned to see a live coverage of the event while he was doing his own run using the RunSocial app and sort of formed a connection between him and other runners in London. He eventually finished it in 3:35:21 hours and achieved his objective.