The Marathon Man: 365 Marathons in 365 Days For Asthma Sufferer

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Stefaan Engels crosses the finish line in Barcelona

JOSEP LAGO/AFP/Getty Images

The marathon runner Stefaan Engels has set a new world record by completing his 365th marathon of 365 days.

The 49 year old from Belgium finished his final race in Barcelona, Spain on Saturday after running 15,000km (9,569 miles) across seven countries in a year. His ‘marathon of marathons’ started in Belgium last year and means that he sets a new record for the number of marathons run in a row. The previous record holder was 65 year old Akinori Kusuda of Japan, who ran 52 consecutive marathons in 2009.

(More on TIME.com: See photos of Extreme Marathons here)

Mr Engels was diagnosed with asthma as a boy and advised to avoid sports but this clearly hasn’t stopped him: As well as completing this record-breaking feat he also holds the record for the most ‘Ironman’ Triathlons completed in a year, after finishing 20 in 2007/8.

In this, his second attempt at the 365 challenge – his first try was cut short when he injured his leg 18 days in – he took it steady, saying that the key to his success was a ‘slow pace’ over each 26.2 mile marathon. Mind you, he did average four hours per marathon, with his best time at just under three hours … Hardly slow!

(More on TIME.com: See the Top 10 Endurance Competitions here)

“I don’t regard my marathon year as torture. It is more like a regular job,” he said “The problem was thinking about running a marathon every day. I just told myself to run that day and did not think about the next day or next week. There were a lot of moments when I thought “today, I won’t finish”.”

Now, Engels says, “It is time for other things. It is time to give my body a rest.”

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