Porsche world record attempt - Click above for high-res image gallery
What's the most common Pavlovian response to the word "Porsche"? Thinking of people running on treadmills, right? If you had a different though, consider that treadmills were front and center at the Goodwood Festival of Speed this past weekend, where 12 runners set a new world record for the longest distance covered in 48 hours: 539.86 miles. The previous world record of 495.76 miles was set in April 2008. This weekend's event was organized by sports scientists at the Porsche Human Performance Centre, a name that prompted us to make sure it wasn't April 1. This is a real thing, though, and their "careful preparation" and special Adidas shoes helped each runner complete their 45-mile shifts - at an average speed of 11.3 mph - over the weekend. We appreciate what Porsche is trying to do here, but we'll take an electric 911 when it's ready. Thanks.
Porsche Sets New Guinness World Record at Goodwood
A remarkable demonstration of grit and determination at the Goodwood Festival of Speed ended in success on Sunday July 5 when a team of athletes supported by Porsche set a new Guinness World Record for the longest distance covered in 48 hours by 12 runners using a single treadmill – smashing the previous record by over 40 miles.
Organised by the sports scientists from the Porsche Human Performance Centre at the Porsche Experience Centre, Silverstone, this gruelling athletic exercise took place live at the Porsche dynamic exhibition area over the Festival weekend. Starting at 12 noon on Friday July 3, the runners aimed to break the former distance record of 495.76 miles set in April 2008 – which they did in fine style, setting a new record of 539.86 miles (868.64km).
The previous record was in fact broken at 0820 on July 5, with over three and a half hours remaining, and such was the pace that by the time the clocks officially stopped at noon a distance approaching that of two London Marathons was added to the total.
In all, some 480,000 footsteps pounded the belt, each one cushioned by specialist Adidas training shoes. Each runner was continually monitored during their stints for their safety in the heat, and a consequence of this was insight to the physical commitment behind such a record attempt. En route to their incredible record of 539.86 miles, the average heart rate of the team was 170 beats per minute and the energy expended was equivalent to approximately 61,000 calories; or around 250 chocolate bars.
"Thanks to a thorough assessment of the challenge that lay ahead and careful preparation by the team, we were confident of success," said team manager, Andy Blow, Head of the Porsche Human Performance Centre. "We recognised that maintaining a high average speed with minimal 'pit-stops' would be the key to beating the record, and the guys put in some terrific performances to boost the effort, with peak speeds of 13.6mph (22km/h ) really pushing us forwards."
"Each runner has covered 45 miles each during the challenge, which would be an impressive feat on its own!" he added. "I am really proud of what we have achieved together, and reckon it will take another very special effort to even match the standard we have set this weekend."
Due to the soaring temperatures over the weekend, the challenge faced by the athletes was the very epitome of the theme of this year's Festival; True Grit – Epic Feats of Endurance. The team of 12 runners, who drew on every ounce of their experience gained in contests such as marathon, duathlon, adventure racing and Ironman competitions, set a remarkable pace from the outset. A strategy of each runner doing stints of 20 minutes ensured a critical balance of high average speed and minimal interruption during the handovers; the regulations of the Record challenge demanding that the treadmill come to a complete stop between runners. Overall, the team attained an average speed of over 11.3mph (18.1 km/h) through the 48 hours.
"This achievement is a great endorsement of the work carried out by the Human Performance Centre at the new Porsche Experience Centre Silverstone," said Andy Goss, Managing Director of Porsche Cars GB. "At Porsche, we believe very much in the philosophy that the most important component of the car is the driver, and the Human Performance laboratory advises drivers on optimising their own endurance levels whether on the road or race circuit."
The record attempt was sponsored by Technogym and Adidas, both peak performers in their respective fields of exercise equipment and sports apparel. Technogym provided a specially-developed treadmill for the event, able to rev up sufficiently to support running speeds of 25km/h, higher than the typical treadmill installed in gyms.
Andy Blow was assisted by his fellow Porsche Human Performance sports scientists Eliot Challifour and Pippa Alford; Eliot in fact was part of the running team, demonstrating the physiological knowledge and practical experience visitors to the Porsche Experience Centre at Silverstone can benefit from.
The Porsche Experience Centre offers a variety of track configurations and surface conditions on which the potential of road cars – both Porsche and non-Porsche - can be studied, together with, uniquely, the human performance level of drivers themselves. This world-class facility enables Porsche to communicate its core principles of driving safety and driving enjoyment by providing a formal, yet fun, environment for all drivers to get more out of their car.
With a total length of 3.1km, the track has been designed to allow it to be split into four separate areas that can be used independently of each other or connected together to form a longer handling circuit. This environment allows visitors to be instructed through a variety of different road situations in wet and dry conditions, as well as simulating ice and snow driving with the use of specially constructed surfaces.
The Porsche Experience Centre houses reception and display areas, a restaurant, cinema and the innovative Human Performance department. This leading edge sports laboratory is run by proven specialists and is accessible to both road and racing drivers. Ordinarily, this type of facility would only be accessible to elite athletes. One-to-one instruction spans fitness assessments and guidance in techniques aimed at improving stamina, co-ordination and reaction times for drivers of all levels.