Who: Michal Kapral is a Guinness Book of World Record holder in the unique sport of Joggling. The sport is a combination of juggling and running, and Kapral holds the joggling marathon record at 2:50:9 as well as the 10K and Half Marathon records. The Toronto-based editor and writer has also been featured in a Fairfield Inn and Suites commercial. Kapral is known for his years-long duel with fellow marathoner Zack Warren over the joggling world record.
What: Joggling is a combination of juggling and running. It began in the late 70s and early 80s and now has many fans and participants. The rules state that a runner must juggle a ball for every step of the race, so if one is dropped the runner must go back to the step where they dropped the ball and start again from there.
Why: Well, that’s why we talked to Kapral about how he got into the unique sport, his duel with Warren, and how easy it must be to run without juggling balls now.
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SB: How did you start your joggling career?
MK: I never expected it to turn into a long-term obsession of mine. Sometimes life is like that. It was something I did as a fun goal. I was going to set the Guinness Book of World Records mark for the fastest marathon juggling three objects. I was raising money for a charity here in Toronto. I ended up breaking the record by about 13 or 14 minutes. It was going to be the end of my joggling days. I figured I would have the record in the books for a while. But another guy named Zack Warren ended up breaking my record by less than a minute a couple of months later. I challenged him to the first ever joggling marathon duel. He chose the Boston Marathon. We had this epic showdown in the Boston Marathon and Zack ended up winning that race. He set a new record. After Zack beat me I knew I had to get the record back again. I started training harder than ever. We exchanged the record back and forth a few times and I finally set the new record at 2:50.
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SB: Did you know that joggling was a thing before you did it?
MK: I knew that the record existed because I had read about it in the Guinness Book as a kid. I thought I would try that out. I got in touch with Guinness World Records to find out the current record, but I didn’t know until after I set the current record how many people were doing it. I’ve heard from hundreds of people over the years who have either taken it up or were already doing it.
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SB: What was first, juggling or running?
MK: Technically I learned to juggle first because I learned when I was about ten. I started marathon running in my 20s. I ran several marathons before I started joggling. I was pretty competitive. I won the Toronto Marathon in 2002. I knew that I was never going to the Olympics, but I was pretty serious. That’s why it was funny that I took up this not very serious sport of combining juggling and running. It turned out that it wasn’t just a stupid thing, and it is funny and entertaining to people. But there is something really beautiful about the sport, you are combining two things that combine perfectly. There’s really no other sport like it. You are joining hand-eye coordination and endurance. I might be the first person ever to finish a marathon and immediately grab my biceps and scream in pain.
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SB: When joggling, what do you concentrate on the most: juggling or running?
MK: It’s really a combination. Moving forward as fast as you can. You’ve got to be moving, even though it’s called joggling. It should be called ruggling. It’s about getting the perfect flow. When I’m doing it properly it’s a Zen-like feel where the balls are floating in front of your face in this perfect juggling pattern. The toss of the balls should perfectly match the swing of your arms as you run. When I start concentrating on the throws that’s when I end up dropping them. There is nothing like that feeling of trying to catch these balls while you are completely zonked at the end of a marathon.
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SB: Is running easy without juggling now? What was the reaction from other runners when you were running with Zack?
MK: Sometimes I kind of miss it when I go on a regular run, like there’s something lacking. It’s not necessarily easy, but it’s not quite as fun. If you think about running a race while juggling, it’s weird enough as it is. But when you see two guys doing it, it’s pretty entertaining. A couple of times we passed another runner and he looks to his left and sees a guy pass him while juggling and then he looks right and sees another guy pass him while juggling. It’s a good incentive for other runners to go faster because no one likes to get beaten by a joggler.