Photo courtesy of Crystal Cruises
Dane Rauschenberg says monotony won't be a problem.
Dodging other passengers, however, will require added focus. The ultra-runner plans to finish the first official marathon on a cruise ship when he gets an early start Dec. 11 on a 97-lap jaunt around the Promenade Deck on Crystal Cruises' Crystal Serenity during a 14-day cruise in the Caribbean from New Orleans to Miami.
Crystal Cruises claims that Rauschenberg's run will be the first marathon at sea. The line has asked USA Track and Field to have the promenade deck measured and plans to have an official onboard to track the run, including with a timing system, as a means to ensuring the run is certified.
To be fair, at least two other runners also have completed a marathon distance while sailing on a cruise ship in front of plenty of witnesses. Steve Eaton, a British runner, ran a marathon on Grand Princess in 2011 in 5 hours, 16 minutes, as part of a charity effort called Help for Heroes for wounded military members. Sean Tolkin of the United States also ran a marathon for charity onboard Norwegian Breakaway in 2013, raising almost $50,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, while finishing the run in 3 hours, 43 minutes.
Rauschenberg is well-known for his feats of endurance (is that feets of endurance?). He ran 52 marathons on 52 consecutive weekends in 2006. The Titusville, Pa., native also ran a 202-mile relay race without any relay partners and completed a little 350-mile jog covering the entire Oregon coastline.
I caught up with Rauschenberg by phone at his home in Texas, and he told me what he expects from his latest running challenge.
TravelPulse: You actually have run a marathon before, in 2014, on the same cruise ship. But this is being touted as the first marathon at sea. What gives?
Dane Rauschenberg: When (Crystal Cruises) asked me to do this again, they asked whether they could say that it's going to be a Guinness World Record. They're apparently making this one much more official.
The thing is . . . when I sit down and I count the (number) of marathons I've done in my life, I don't count the previous one that we did on the cruise ship because I ran it by myself. There was no one else there, and there was no official counter. (Note: Crystal Cruises has reached out to Guinness World Records to ask them to recognize and authenticate the marathon.)
TP: Will others be able to run with you, or will they clear the deck for this?
DR: Absolutely. It's going to be open to anybody who wants to run. They definitely do not clear the deck. When I am on this cruise ship, I am part of the crew. I am not a guest. So everything I do is in deference to the paying client.
TP: What did you learn from the previous time you ran on a cruise ship that will help you prepare for this marathon?
DR: I am going to wise up. The last time we did this, I started at 7 a.m. because they wanted to make sure I could see the deck with the sunlight. But I realized that the deck is lit at all times, so I should have started earlier because it ended up being very warm (in the South Pacific Ocean off Easter Island). So, if it's up to me, we're probably going to start around 6 a.m. this time to have more time running when it's cooler. And because it's the exact same ship, I'm going to know exactly how to run it.
It's interesting, because of the motion of the cruise ship. In the Pacific, when I started out, it had a side-to-side motion and later it was pitching and yawing forward and backward. So, I can't just zone out like you should be able to do in a marathon. I was mentally wiped out.
TP: What about that monotony of endless turns around the .27-mile track as you tick off about 100 laps?
DR: The monotony never bothers me. I like loops. It definitely wasn't a boring thing at all. It's a challenge to pay attention to your footing and to be constantly paying attention to the other passengers. You can never really zone out. That's why I think starting it an hour earlier will afford me another hour before more people come out onto the deck.
TP: This will be your second cruise. How do you like the cruise ship foods, and which ones are especially good for fueling up for this kind of distance running?
DR: I'm not a big foodie, but when people talk about cruises, they are like "Oh, the food!"
I'll tell you what. I might not be a foodie, but I can appreciate when the food is really amazing, and this cruise ship is mind-bogglingly good.
I'm a big beef eater, and I like lean beef to fuel me up for my events. I think the 12 or 13 nights we were on this ship (in 2014), I think I ate steak on 10 of them.
TP: You get to go to a lot of places because of your running. In general, why do you think travel is important for people?
DR: Travel is paramount to breaking down stereotypes, to breaking down racism, to breaking down everything with regards to small-mindedness. To get out there and experience different things, it breaks down all the prejudices. It's really hard to be prejudiced when you go out and see so much that the world has to offer, regardless of race, religion, creed, gender and everything else. You realize how similar we are.
To see the world and travel is 100 percent integral to becoming a better person.
UPDATE: 2:53 p.m. Oct. 31, 2016. This article was updated to clarify the cruise line's claims to holding the first marathon at sea.