Robert Garside “The Runningman” begins around-the-world run from India Gate, New Delhi, India.
|Full name||Robert Garside|
6 January 1967 |
Robert Garside, calling himself The Runningman, is a British runner who is credited by Guinness World Records as the first person to run around the world. Garside began his record-setting run following several aborted attempts from Cape Town, South Africa and London, England. Garside set off from New Delhi, India on 20 October 1997, completing his run back at the same point on 13 June 2003. While his run was challenged by some ultra distance runners and some members of the press, Guinness World Records, who spent several years evaluating evidence, declared it authentic and the record was officially bestowed on Garside on 27 March 2007 at a ceremony in Piccadilly Circus, London, England.
Born in Cheshire, England, Robert Garside had pursued several academic courses and worked a number of jobs, including in the Merchant Navy when he began running. But it was later, while studying psychology at London's Royal Holloway University, that he decided to attempt to set a record as the first person to run around the world. Garside had become obsessed with running in the late 1980s, and when he noticed that there was a record on file for walking the world, but not for running it, decided that this was his record to set.
His first effort from Cape Town, South Africa, in early 1996 was abandoned in Namibia. In a second, begun on 7 December 1996, the 29-year-old Garside started from London's Piccadilly Circus on a planned 42,000-mile run. This attempt was abandoned in Russia due to the civil war in Afghanistan, and a third effort was initiated on 20 October 1997 from the monument of India Gate in New Delhi.
Garside later indicated that it was his habit to jog seven to eight hours a day, covering an average of forty miles a day when running on flat ground, outfitted with a video camera to record his journey and a fifteen-pound backpack.
During his run, he updated his website with a portable computer, describing an arduous journey complicated by human and natural hurdles that included physical attacks and imprisonment as well as grueling climate extremes. He met with considerable assistance, as he was offered lodgings around the globe in such diverse settings as five-star hotels and private homes to prison cells and police stations. In addition to corporate sponsorship of £50,000, he indicated he received £120,000 in donations from individuals. One donor in Hong Kong agreed to back Garside in return for a share in future profits. Along the way, Garside also found love, meeting girlfriend Endrina Perez in Venezuela.
Garside completed his world-traversing journey on 13 June 2003 at the monument of India Gate, at which time The Independent reported the total miles run over five and a half years at 35,000 (approximately 56,000 kilometers), covering territory in 30 countries. Near the end of his run, Garside indicated that the worst experiences he'd encountered were three days spent running without any food and five days spent in jail in China because he lacked proper documentation. He described running over the Himalayas as "fantastic" in spite of freezing temperatures, "the most spiritual of mind journeys."
Even before Garside completed his run, some ultra distance runners and some members of the press began challenging his achievement. David Blaikie, editor of now-defunct Canadian website Ultramarathon World and former president of the Association of Canadian Ultramarathoners expressed disbelief stating "I do not believe ... that he has fully run any of the major sections of the world he has claimed, or even a substantial portion of any section." Blaikie also cited the lack of any helpers to help him carry food and water and his lack of experience with ultramarathons as reasons to doubt Garside's claims.
Steven Seaton, then editor of Runner's World, also pointed out Garside's lack of previous experience with ultramarathons, saying, "Some of the things he has claimed to have achieved would constitute world records for ultrarunning, which is nonsense for somebody who is claiming to have run almost every day. He went into this with no outstanding ultra-credentials, which makes it difficult to believe what he claims to have done." The Daily Telegraph claimed that Garside had admitted to skipping five countries and 2000 miles, before flying back to India to relaunch his attempt.
When Guinness began considering evidence of Garside's record, they evaluated the journey that began in Delhi on 20 October 1997, after his detour to spend time in the UK with his girlfriend, including China, Japan, Australia, South America, North America, Africa, southern Europe, the Middle East. Garside used his video camera every 20 minutes while running to take a four-minute clip of his location, and routinely requested signed, dated documents from local officials. Before authenticating the record, Guinness World Records spent over three years evaluating Garside's evidence, which included those time-coded tapes, credit-card receipts, and independent witnesses.
In 2007, Guinness recognized Garside's run, formally listing him as the first person to run around the world. In its press announcement, Guinness World Records declared itself quite satisfied with the evidence evaluated, stating that "We are very cautious to accept records like this because they are difficult to certify, however Robert has provided us with full evidence which enabled us to authenticate his amazing achievement." According to Guinness' endorsement, Garside ran through 29 countries on six different continents over a period of 2,062 days.
The record was officially observed on 27 March 2007 at a ceremony in Piccadilly Circus, where representatives of Guinness endorsed the record. Garside said, "I'm really happy about this, this run cost me everything." 
After the authentication, The Guardian quoted Ian Champion of the UK Road Runners Club, who had been called upon to judge the uncompleted supervised 24 hour road test, as indicating he was "stunned". The Guardian was more critical in its commentary, stating that Garside "did not complete the challenge" to "run 130 miles on a track for 24 hours, under observation".
Garside had also apparently admitted to shortening his route by 1300 km by taking an airplane. According to 2009's Getting Into Guinness, Guinness permits rest days and ship or plane travel across bodies of water in epic journeys.
In 2003, Garside indicated his intention to follow up his record-setting run by running across the Antarctic and swimming around the globe, with intentions to embark on the latter in June 2004. Garside married his girlfriend in London in 2004, having met her in Venezuela in 2000.
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