Man Runs 370 Marathons in One Year, Proves Nothing Is Impossible

For most people, running one or two full marathons a year is quite the feat,  but for 33-year-old Rob Young it’s merely a short warm-up. This British superhuman did the unthinkable last year, completing a whopping 370 marathons, which basically means he ran more than one marathon per day!

It all started as a silly bet with his partner Joanna Hanasz on a Sunday morning, in April 2014, as they watched the TV coverage of the London Marathon. It was, in fact, Young who had insisted that he’d rather stay in and watch TV than go for a walk in the park with their son. He obviously wasn’t very interested in running at the time, and actually considered it ‘boring’.

But something changed that morning, when Hanasz teased him that he couldn’t run marathons, even if he tried. Young jokingly replied that he would bet her ‘twenty pence’ that he could run 50, a challenge that he later took seriously. The very next morning he woke up at 3.30 am, printed out the route of the Richmond Marathon, and completed it before work. And he felt so good that he returned to it every day, running the equivalent of 10 marathons by the end of the week.


Before long, Young was addicted to running. He spent all of last year’s 365 days running a combination of marathons and ultra-runs, eventually completing the equivalent distance of 422 marathons, in 370 separate runs. “On one day I realised that all of my dreams and passions that I’ve always wanted, pretty much all my life, could all just happen,” he said, speaking to Business Insider.

The story of Young’s entry into the world of running might seem a tad frivolous, but his real story is rather dark, with a history of physical and psychological abuse by his violent, drunk father. In his book, Marathon Man, Young describes how his father would lock him in a suitcase and throw him down the stairs on multiple occasions. He was routinely beaten, and one time, nearly hung to death. The ordeal ended at age six, when Young, his mother and sister, finally managed to escape the man.


An abusive childhood is difficult to recover from, but Young fortunately did come across a kinder father figure at age 12, a man named Peter Wells. A deputy headmaster at Young’s school, Wells later became his foster parent, providing him with the normal, quiet lifestyle that he needed for healing. He went on to join the British Army after school, as a member of the Royal Corps of Signals, and excelled at all physical activities.

Although he claims to have ‘almost forgotten’ the horrific experiences he went through at a tender age, he does agree that the physical and mental scars remain, and that the pain he went through has actually helped him with running. “I think the pain is the only thing that I take from my past which I can utilize in the running,” he said. “I’m just able to shut off the pain. If you do something to me now I’ll feel it, but if I know it’s coming I can just switch it off.”


Interestingly, this isn’t something Young just imagines he can do – experts have also confirmed that his ability to withstand pain is extraordinarily high. “I don’t like saying this stuff about myself,” he said, speaking to The Telegraph. “But the scientists say it’s because I have a very high pain threshold. I’m mentally very strong. That’s the difference between me and most people – they have a point where they’ll give up, but I don’t have that.”

“Sometimes he’d hang me over the bannister by one leg,” he recalled about his father. “He said he’d drop me if I cried, so I learned not to.”


Since January 2015, Young has completed several impressive challenges. He won the Trans-American Footrace, a six-month long competition, with a total time of 482 hours and 10 minutes, leaving him 30 minutes to spare. He broke the world record for the world’s longest run without sleep, previously held by runner Dean Karnazes, by running 373.75 miles in 88 hours and 17 minutes without shut-eye. But according to Young, his most important was that through running, he learned more about himself.

“I’m more at peace with the world; I’ve made peace with my past,” he said. “I’ve cleared my mind, so I can see the world a bit clearer. It’s not just the running that’s important to me. I’ve also tried to be raising awareness. So many people who’ve been abused feel ashamed of what’s happened to them – but I’m saying it’s OK to tell your story. It’s your father, your mother, whoever did this to you. You had no control.”


Having achieved so much already, Young now hopes to use his running to test the limits of human endurance. “I’d like to find something that’s so challenging, it’s beyond comprehension,” he said. “I’d like to run across the Arctic Circle and to the North Pole. There’s a certain time of the year when people say it’s impossible to do so, so I’d like to do it then.”

“I don’t see things as impossible to do,” he added. “I see things as possible to do and I just need the financial backing and the resources to go and do it. For me, it’s testing the limits of human endurance, whatever it may be, whether it’s running or not.”


Young’s second goal is to make the world a better place for children. He has already raised nearly $300,000 for children’s charities like Dreams Come True, Great Ormond Street Hospital, and the NSPCC. His efforts earned him the title of ‘International Champion of the Year’ at the Peace and Sports awards in Monaco last year.

Photos: Marathon Man/Facebook