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Human Race

Updated 5 days ago

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Human Race is a podcast from Runner's World. Hosted by Rachel Swaby, Human Race focuses on long-form storytelling. It brings the depth and reporting you’ve come to expect from ambitious features in the magazine—but with the intimate and immersive aspects only audio can provide. Each week, we share a story about runners and the world of running.

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Human Race is a podcast from Runner's World. Hosted by Rachel Swaby, Human Race focuses on long-form storytelling. It brings the depth and reporting you’ve come to expect from ambitious features in the magazine—but with the intimate and immersive aspects only audio can provide. Each week, we share a story about runners and the world of running.

iTunes Ratings

232 Ratings
Average Ratings
210
12
5
3
2

Missed not forgotten

By bored runner Payton - Oct 21 2018
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I truly miss this podcast-there is nothing like it! Great stories-wish it would return

Bring it back!

By Eelsoongs - Sep 30 2017
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SO sad this podcast has been discontinued. My favorite podcast.

iTunes Ratings

232 Ratings
Average Ratings
210
12
5
3
2

Missed not forgotten

By bored runner Payton - Oct 21 2018
Read more
I truly miss this podcast-there is nothing like it! Great stories-wish it would return

Bring it back!

By Eelsoongs - Sep 30 2017
Read more
SO sad this podcast has been discontinued. My favorite podcast.

Listen to:

Cover image of Human Race

Human Race

Updated 5 days ago

Read more

Human Race is a podcast from Runner's World. Hosted by Rachel Swaby, Human Race focuses on long-form storytelling. It brings the depth and reporting you’ve come to expect from ambitious features in the magazine—but with the intimate and immersive aspects only audio can provide. Each week, we share a story about runners and the world of running.

Episode 3: Sylvia

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Sylvia Weiner is a prolific runner. She’s 85 years old, and she estimates that, during the course of her running career, she’s completed nearly 2,000 races—and she’s got an extensive collection of race medals and trophies to prove it. In 1975, Sylvia even claimed a very special spot in Boston Marathon history.

But her most significant legacy has nothing to do with race accolades. When Sylvia runs, she shows others what’s possible. Her long-term dedication to the sport is impressive. “I have to stick to [running] for dear life,” she says. That’s because running is more than a passion; it’s a way of dealing with her traumatic past.

In this week’s episode, Sylvia shares her incredible story. Let’s just say, there’s a reason Sylvia’s longtime running buddy greets her with an enthusiastic, “Sylvia! She’s our hero!”

Episode Credits:

Host: Rachel Swaby

Producers: Rachel Swaby, Audrey Quinn, Christine Fennessy

Editing help: Brian Dalek

Special thanks: Gordon Asmundson from the University of Regina for sharing his research.

Debbie Weiner for her help with this story.

Theme music: Danny Cocke

Human Race editor-in-chief: David Willey

Human Race is a member of Panoply.

Dec 20 2016

44mins

Play

Episode 7: Barkley Marathons

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In the Barkley Marathons' thirty years, only 14 people have ever completed it. But it’s not for lack of trying. Some 1000 runners have attempted to complete Barkley’s five loop course of agony through Frozen Head State Park in Tennessee. The route is supposed to be 100 miles, but Barkley veterans guess that it’s more like a very hilly 130. With no GPS, no course markers, and not an aid station to speak of, sleep deprived runners are challenged more than just physically. For the vast majority of runners, this race isn’t about finishing. It’s about pushing themselves to their absolute limits.

This episode of Human Race is brought to you by Brooks. Sign up for the Brooks Big Endorsement and become a sponsored athlete at www.BrooksAthlete.com/rw.

Further reading:

The 2016 Barkley Marathons: One Person Finishes! by Brian Dalek

Notorious by Charlie Engle

Episode Credits:

Host: Rachel Swaby 

Producers: Brian Dalek, Rachel Swaby 

Editor: Audrey Quinn with help from Christine Fennessy 

Production help: Mervyn Degaños 

Thanks to Pam Bede from Swim, Bike, Run, Eat! and Bryce Mander from UC Berkeley’s Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory for their help on this story 

Theme music: Danny Cocke 

Human Race editor-in-chief: David Willey 

Jul 05 2016

45mins

Play

Episode 2: Wonder

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This week on Human Race, we’re sharing a sprint—or a short story. We’ll be alternating long stories, like the Tin Man story last week, with shorter stories, like the one you’re getting this week.

Our first sprint is a story we’re featuring from the Runner’s World Show, our really wonderful sister podcast. It will be rare that we’ll air the same story on both shows, but this one is really special.

Chris Kraft, site director for RunnersWorld.com, gets text alerts that reveal when the International Space Station (ISS) will be flying over his house. He even schedules his (very, very early) morning runs so that he can catch a glimpse of these flyovers. Chris’s passion is so appealing that we asked him to record himself out on the run.

In the story, we also meet a fellow sky gazer and astronaut Sunita Williams. Suni has been up to the International Space Station twice. On one of those trips, she ran the Boston Marathon virtually, while in orbit.
This is their story of wonder, passion, and running.

Episode Credits:
Host: Rachel Swaby
Producers: Sylvia Ryerson, Christine Fennessy, Brian Dalek, Chris
Kraft, Rachel Swaby
Theme music: Danny Cocke
Human Race editor-in-chief: David Willey

May 16 2016

11mins

Play

Episode 5: Unknown Legend

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For over 20 years, the so-called World’s Longest Urinal was a New York City Marathon institution. At the height of its glory, it was an astonishing 350-feet long.

The story of this urinal is one of DIY problem solving, triumph, and liquid tragedy. And behind this open air trough: An unknown legend named Vic Navarra. Vic was a fixture at the New York City Marathon for over a quarter of a century. He was a New York City firefighter who conducted the race start from the top of a fire truck's 85-foot ladder. When tens of thousands of runners poured onto multiple levels of the Verrazano bridge at the start of the marathon, Vic was the one conducting them. As the race start coordinator, he was the steward of this storied urinal, too. Together, their history gives us a glimpse into how the New York City Marathon scaled up to be the world class race that it is today.

Episode Credits:

Host: Rachel Swaby
Producers: Rachel Swaby, Mervyn Degaños
Editor: Audrey Quinn
Editing help: Christine Fennessy, Sylvia Ryerson
Fact checking: Jan McLeod
Theme music: Danny Cocke
Human Race editor in chief: David Willey

Jun 08 2016

36mins

Play

Episode 11: Bright Eyes

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Anthony Butler, a native of the Bronx in New York City, lost his sight eight years ago. For many people who lose their ability to see in adulthood, the decline is inevitable and gradual. Often a degenerative disease will chip away at someone’s vision to the point that they become legally blind.

That’s not what happened to Anthony. One second, Anthony was hanging out with friends. The next second, his sight was gone.

But even through a series of struggles—learning to navigate a new world, getting kicked out his home—Anthony found ways to turn his life around. One of those ways: running. It was last spring when Anthony met Kate Dixon on a group run in Central Park with Achilles International. Neither was a great runner, but something clicked when they began running together that made them decide to get serious for their own, important reasons.

In this episode, we explore what happens when you lose something so essential. And what, perhaps, you might gain in its place.

Episode Credits:

Host: Rachel Swaby

Producers: Mervyn Degaños, Rachel Swaby

Editor: David Weinberg

Special thanks to Doug Pedersen for research help and Dr. Steve Lomber. Dr. Lomber is the Canada Research Chair in Brain Plasticity and Development at the University of Western Ontario.

Theme music: Danny Cocke

Human Race editor-in-chief: David Willey

Human Race is a proud part of Panoply.

Extra Credit:

Kate and Anthony are raising money for Achilles. If they top the donor list before the New York City Marathon on November 6, they’ll win a free trip to Disney World. If you feel so inclined, you can donate here.

This episode of Human Race is sponsored by Stamps.com. Buy and Print official U.S. Postage using your own computer and printer. Get a 4-week trial plus a $110 dollar bonus offer by going to Stamps.com and using the promo code "HUMAN."

Help Panoply learn more about the podcasts you love, and how much you listen to them, by taking a short survey at Panoply.fm/survey. Thanks!

Follow us on Twitter (@rwaudio) and Facebook (Runner's World Audio).

Oct 11 2016

50mins

Play

Episode 10: The Cut Off Queen

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About half of all runners who enter the Leadville Trail 100 don't finish. What stands between them and a finisher's belt buckle? Sandy Monahan.

In this episode of Human Race, we follow Sandy as she dashes runners' dreams by enforcing the event's very strict cut off schedule. As she breaks countless timing chips in two, there are tears, hugs, and only the occasional death threat. And yet, Sandy keeps coming back. And so do the runners. There's something special about Leadville.

This episode of Human Race is brought to you by Brooks. Sign up for the Brooks Big Endorsement and become a sponsored athlete at www.BrooksAthlete.com/rw.

Episode Credits:

Host: Rachel Swaby

Producers: Willow Belden, Rachel Swaby

Editor: Audrey Quinn, David Weinberg

Thanks to Amanda Jamrogiewicz, Tom Kleinman, Caolan MacMahon, Jon Perz, and Scott Schaunaman

Theme music: Danny Cocke

Human Race editor-in-chief: David Willey

Additional Listening:

Producer Willow Belden has a podcast called Out There. Here are two episodes she thinks Human Race listeners will like:

Episode 11: Failure in Success

Episode 17: High on Failure

Follow us on Twitter (@rwaudio) and Facebook (Runner's World Audio).

Sep 27 2016

45mins

Play

Episode 4: Trapped

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A series of unfortunate (and hilarious) events just minutes before the start of one of the world’s most prestigious races.

This week’s episode is a sprint—a short story. And you might want to hold your nose because it’s a pretty surprising, very unsettling story about a port-o-potty from Boston Marathon race director Dave McGillivray. Or, to up the stakes, a story about that time McGillivray nearly missed the start of the race he directs.

Episode Credits:
Host: Rachel Swaby
Producers: Rachel Swaby, Audrey Quinn, Christine Fennessy
Theme music: Danny Cocke
Human Race editor-in-chief: David Willey

May 31 2016

7mins

Play

Episode 15: Endurance

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We've got two stories this week. The first is about why we run, not just as runners but as human beings. In the 1980s a biologist named Dave Carrier came up with a controversial theory about human evolution. He called it the "Running Hypothesis" and it was based on the idea that humans became elite long distance runners so that we could hunt large game by chasing it on foot until the animal collapsed from exhaustion. So Carrier and his brother, a radio producer named Scott went to Wyoming to prove this theory by trying to run down an antelope until it collapsed.

The second story comes from producer Karen Given and is about a runner who set a surprising marathon goal after volunteering for a major surgery to save his mother-in-law’s life. We also learn how to hide an engagement ring in your running clothes.

Additional Listening:

Producer Scott Carrier has a podcast called Home of the Brave. You can listen to more of his work at homebrave.com.

Producer Karen Given works on a show called Only A Game. You can listen to more of her work for that show at http://www.wbur.org/staff/karen-given.

This episode of Human Race is sponsored by Aaptiv, an on-demand audio fitness app that you can do at home, at the gym, outdoors - anywhere. Get your first month free when you sign up for a monthly subscription at and use the promo code "HUMAN."

Episode Credits:

Host: David Weinberg

Producers: Scott Carrier, Karen Given

Theme music: Danny Cocke

Human Race editor in chief: David Willey

Human Race is a proud part of Panoply.

Follow us on Twitter (@rwaudio) and Facebook (Runner's World Audio).

Jan 03 2017

39mins

Play

Episode 19: Little Mo

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On May 6, 1967 in a suburb of Toronto, Canada, a 13-year-old girl named Maureen Wilton accomplished something extraordinary. In a marathon of 30 people, she set the women's world record, running 26.2 miles in 3:15:23.

Nicknamed “Little Mo” by her track teammates, Wilton’s accomplishment should have gone down as a defining moment in running history. It was, after all, just two weeks after the famous Kathrine Switzer completed the Boston Marathon wearing bib 261—despite the race director attempting to tackle her off the course.

Instead, Wilton’s achievement was treated with controversy and accusations of cheating. Whereas Switzer became a champion for women’s running—sparking an unprecedented growth in female participation in the sport—Wilton receded into the background.

So what happened to Little Mo? Fifty years after her world changing run, we revisit the historic race. And share the story of a forgotten women’s running revolutionary.

Episode Credits:

Host: Rachel Swaby

Producers: Rachel Swaby, Kit Fox

Feedback from: Christine Fennessy, Brian Dalek, Sylvia Ryerson

Theme music: Danny Cocke

Human Race editor in chief: David Willey

Human Race is a proud part of Panoply.

Apr 25 2017

51mins

Play

Episode 9: Close to Home

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Greg O’Brien is 66 years old and open about his struggles with early onset Alzheimer’s. When a story about Greg appeared on NPR detailing how he uses running to combat mental decline, Runner’s World editor Christine Fennessy reluctantly decided to reach out.

Reluctantly because up until this point, Fennessy had done whatever she could to avoid personal stories about Alzheimer’s. They hit too close to home.

This week, Fennessy meets O’Brien in person—and confronts her biggest fears about the disease. 

Additional Resources:

On Pluto by Greg O’Brien

Outrunning the Demons by Greg O’Brien, edited by Christine Fennessy

Inside Alzheimer’s: NPR

Episode Credits:

Host: Rachel Swaby 

Producers: Christine Fennessy, Rachel Swaby 

Editor: Audrey Quinn 

Production help: Mervyn Degaños 

Theme music: Danny Cocke 

Human Race editor-in-chief: David Willey

Jul 19 2016

48mins

Play

Episode 18: Runner Down

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Shortly after mile seven in the 2015 Chicago Marathon, Richard Sikorski had a sudden cardiac arrest. His heart stopped beating and he collapsed in the middle of the road.

He wasn’t supposed to run the marathon. He was feeling under-trained and a little tired. But the energy at the race expo changed his mind. He called his wife. Told her, “It’s pasta for dinner.” He’d rather be around other runners and suffer through 26.2 than stay at home.

The decision to run profoundly altered the trajectory of his life. Sikorski started the race, but he did not finish it.

This is the story of the race to save his life—a race that requires a NASA-like command center, a year's worth of planning, hundreds of volunteers, and a little luck.

Additional reading:* "Last time I saw him he was dead" by Cindy Kuzma

* The Runner's Heart

Episode Credits:

Host: Rachel Swaby

Producers: Cindy Kuzma, Rachel Swaby

Editor: David Weinberg

Theme music: Danny Cocke

Human Race Editor-in-Chief: David Willey

Human Race is a proud part of Panoply.

Follow us on Twitter (@rwaudio) and Facebook (Runner's World Audio).

Apr 11 2017

48mins

Play

Episode 21: Twenty-Four Years

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Run streakers people committed to running at least a mile every day. There are now Facebook groups filled with run streakers and a national organization. But before any of that, Brent Burmaster decided that he would run at least 5k, or 3.1 miles every day for the rest of his life. That was in 1993. More than 8,800 days later, Burmaster is still at it. But in the twenty-four years between then and now, his life took a dramatic turn. Burmaster had always been a heavy drinker, but his big nights out were mostly confined to the weekends. However, when his first marriage fell apart, he plunged into alcoholism, going to bars every night.

Was running holding his life together or enabling his addiction? Keeping him healthy or keeping him trapped in another addiction? That’s our story this week.

Additional Resources:

2017 Runner’s World Summer Running Streak

Soul’s Harbor

Alcoholics Anonymous

Host: Rachel Swaby

Producer: Rachel SwabyFeedback from: Brian Dalek, Sylvia Ryerson

Special thanks to Hollis Karoly, a doctoral student at the University of Colorado Boulder, for help with the science of alcoholism and exercise.

Theme music: Danny Cocke

Human Race editor in chief: David Willey

Human Race is a proud part of Panoply.

May 23 2017

48mins

Play

Episode 12: Villains and Vigilantes

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In April 2015, a viral post on Facebook about the Boston Marathon kicked off a wave of controversy. In this week’s episode, we explore how that controversy turned into a full-blown movement. Today, a league of at-home vigilante race investigators are changing the way we police marathons online for everyone to see. The story takes us from a race in Pennsylvania to the Boston Marathon to a set of spreadsheets (yes, really) to a runner in a suburb in New Jersey. For those outed online, we wonder if the punishment fits the crime.

This episode of Human Race is brought to you by Brooks. Sign up for the Brooks Big Endorsement and become a sponsored athlete at www.BrooksAthlete.com/rw.

Additional Reading:

Dozens Suspected of Cheating to Enter Boston Marathon” by Kit Fox

Marathon Investigation, Derek’s blog

Episode Credits:

Host: Rachel Swaby

Producers: Kit Fox, Rachel Swaby

Editor: David Weinberg

Theme music: Danny Cocke

Human Race editor-in-chief: David Willey

Human Race is a proud part of Panoply.

Follow us on Twitter (@rwaudio) and Facebook (Runner's World Audio).

Oct 25 2016

47mins

Play

Episode 8: Crossing the Country

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The last time someone broke the record for the fastest crossing of America on foot was 1980. Frank Giannino Jr. traveled from San Francisco to the Brooklyn Bridge on foot in 46 days, 8 hours, and 36 minutes. His journey was marked by an almost military-like routine—a routine that has yet to be replicated.

Three people have attempted to break Giannino’s record this year. Human Race goes out on the road with one of them. In the process, we find out what happens to your body when you run more than 50 miles every day, and what it is about this 36 year-old record makes it so tough to beat.

Further Reading:

Ultrarunning Newcomer Will Run Across America Trying to Break 35-Year-Old Record by Kit Fox

Renowned Ultrarunner Attempting Trans-America Record by Kit Fox

Episode Credits: 

Host: Rachel Swaby

Producer: Rachel Swaby

Editor: Audrey Quinn

Production help: Mervyn Degaños

Theme Music: Danny Cocke

Human Race editor-in-chief: David Willey

Jul 12 2016

23mins

Play

Episode 16: Running Clean

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When Keith Giroux decided to run the Boston Marathon he had a number of logistical hurdles to overcome. For starters, he hadn't run a qualifying race. In fact he'd never run any formal race ever. Then there was the issue of gear. He didn't own a pair of running shoes or running shorts. And he only had ten days to solve all these problems. Also he was in jail.

This episode of Human Race is brought to you by Brooks. Sign up for the Brooks Big Endorsement and become a sponsored athlete at www.BrooksAthlete.com/rw.

To support Keith's running goals visit:

http://www.gofundme.com/a-run-for-meaning

Episode Credits:

Host: David Weinberg

Producer: David Weinberg

Editing help: Christine Fennessy, Sylvia Ryerson

Theme music: Danny Cocke

Human Race editor in chief: David Willey

Human Race is a proud part of Panoply.

Follow us on Twitter (@rwaudio) and Facebook (Runner's World Audio).

Jan 17 2017

37mins

Play

Episode 29: See You on the Road

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For Human Race's final episode, we share several of your stories.

This episode of Human Race is brought to you by Brooks. Sign up for the Brooks Big Endorsement and become a sponsored athlete at www.BrooksAthlete.com/rw.

Credits:

Host: Rachel Swaby

Producers: Rachel Swaby, Brian Dalek, Christine Fennessy

Theme music: Danny Cocke

Human Race is a proud part of Panoply

Special thanks to:

David Willey, Christine Fennessy, Brian Dalek, Sylvia Ryerson, Audrey Quinn, Mervyn Deganos, David Weinberg, Danielle Thomsen, Kit Fox, Casey Martin, Willow Belden, Tennessee Watson, Scott Carrier, Karen Given, and Cindy Kuzma. 

Sep 12 2017

53mins

Play

Episode 28: Crash & Return

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In his 20s, after running cross country in high school and college, Tim Manzer swore off running completely. Then, in his early 40s, his doctor told him that running would not be a part of his future. “I wasn’t running anyway!” Tim laughed.

In 2010, Tim was trimming some apple trees in a little orchard right next to his front yard, when he backed up into a wasp’s nest. “They're after me. I'm zigzagging across my yard and over in the neighbor's yard.” After 10 or so stings, Tim finally loses them. As he recovers on his front porch, he thinks to himself, “You can run. You just need the right motivation, but you can run!”

Tim’s is an unbelievable tale: it has a summer camp, a motorcycle club, poop, and wasps, of course. Oh, and love.

This episode of Human Race is brought to you by Brooks. Sign up for the Brooks Big Endorsement and become a sponsored athlete at www.BrooksAthlete.com/rw.

Episode Credits:

Host & producer: Rachel Swaby

Editing help: Brian Dalek

Theme Music: Danny Cocke

Human Race is a proud part of Panoply. 

Aug 29 2017

32mins

Play

Episode 27: From The Rubble

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​When Amy Downs thinks about her life, it splits into two distinct sections: before the bombing and after the bombing.

Before the bombing, Amy’s life had fallen into a predictable pattern. She went to work, came home, ate dinner, watched TV and went to bed. After she moved away from her hometown and gotten married a few years earlier, she’d gained weight quickly—100 pounds in one year. “And I was too embarrassed to come home,” says Downs. “This was before cell phones and email and all of that.” Relationships with her friends and family suffered.

But then, one spring day, when Amy was 28, a tragedy ripped Amy’s life in half. She vowed to change her life completely.

This episode of Human Race is brought to you by Brooks. Sign up for the Brooks Big Endorsement and become a sponsored athlete at www.BrooksAthlete.com/rw.

Credits:

Host and Producer: Rachel Swaby

Editing help: Christine Fennessy, Brian Dalek

Theme Music: Danny Cocke

Human Race is proud part of Panoply

Aug 15 2017

37mins

Play

Episode 26: Pacers

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In 2011, at the Western States 100-mile Endurance Run, Noe Castanon Mendez was a pacer in need of a runner. Thomas Wong was a runner in need of a pacer. They were strangers when they met and decided to pair up with more than 30 miles still to go.

But the meeting got off to a tense start. Thomas was in pain and exhausted, close to the cut off time, and uncertain he could finish on his own. Noe, on the other hand, still had fresh legs. He was cheering on runners with a cowbell and excited about the prospect of hopping onto the course. They weren't on the same page, and it wasn’t clear that they’d get there.

This is the story of a self-professed odd couple. It’s the story of what happens in the dark of night, through pain and doubt, when a runner is at their worst. And the unique relationship formed in extremely challenging circumstances.

Episode credits:

Host & producer: Rachel Swaby

Editing help: Christine Fennessy, Brian Dalek, Kit Fox

Theme music: Danny Cocke

Human Race is a proud part of Panoply

This episode of Human Race is brought to you by Brooks. Sign up for the Brooks Big Endorsement and become a sponsored athlete at www.BrooksAthlete.com/rw.

Aug 08 2017

45mins

Play

New episode coming next week

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I'm taking this week off. But you'll get a new episode of Human Race next Tuesday (8/8). In the mean time, I want to hear from you. Email me stories about why you started running and you could be included in a future episode. You can email me at RWaudio@rodale.com.

Aug 01 2017

Play

Episode 25: Rosco's Runners

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Earlier this year, Human Race asked listeners to send in stories about their run clubs. We got inspiring, motivating, and touching stories from all over the country—exactly what we were hoping for.

But then we got a story so unexpected, so charming, so zany, that we couldn’t possibly pass it up. This week, Human Race goes to Colorado Springs to run with donkeys. That’s right. Donkeys. 

And what we found there wasn’t just a novelty club. When “you teach someone else not only how to [run with donkeys] but why to do it,” says Shaw, “That forms a more unique bond between people.” Rosco’s Runners is a club that’s had a powerful effect on the local community—as well as the people who run it.

Rosco’s Runners Videos:

Rosco's Th@nksgiving

Rosco likes Human Race

Episode Credits:

Host & producer: Rachel Swaby

Editing help: Sylvia Ryerson and Brian Dalek

Special thanks to Kevin Shaw, Suzanne Shaw, and Tony White.

Thanks to Sam White for donkey running recording help.

Theme music: Danny Cocke

Human Race is a proud part of Panoply

This episode of Human Race is brought to you by Brooks. Sign up for the Brooks Big Endorsement and become a sponsored athlete at www.BrooksAthlete.com/rw.

Jul 18 2017

48mins

Play

Episode 24: What would it take?

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On January 1st, 1997, Karen Queally decided that running every day was something she could do for herself. She had recently given birth to twin girls and she had another daughter, just a few years older. She’d run three miles or 45 minutes, whatever came first. And every January, she’d decide whether she’d like to renew the commitment. That was more than 20 years ago. Karen has kept her streak alive every day since. Now, she knew running every day would be difficult. She expected early flights and injury and illness. However, she didn’t expect just how much she would have to go through to keep going. And how maintaining control over her running would hold her together while her health and her home life deteriorated.  During this daily running practice, Queally saw her dreams expand. Karen is 163 marathons deep with 7490 days of running in a row. She has no plans to stop any time soon.

This episode of Human Race is brought to you by Brooks. Sign up for the Brooks Big Endorsement and become a sponsored athlete at www.BrooksAthlete.com/rw.

Episode Credits:

Host & producer: Rachel Swaby

Feedback from: Christine Fennessy and Brian Dalek

Theme music: Danny Cocke

Human Race is a proud part of Panoply

Jul 04 2017

42mins

Play

Episode 23: Don’t Call it a Comeback

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Elite runner Brandon Hudgins had the storybook ending to a remarkable comeback at the 2016 Olympic Track Trials. Over eight years, he fought three relapses of a rare form of the autoimmune disease vasculitis to qualify in the 1,500 meters.

When the disease strikes, it attacks the very organs needed to run fast—the blood vessels that transport oxygen to muscles. In a matter of weeks during a relapse, he can go from being able to run a mile in under four minutes, to barely being able to plod through one in 15. He’s suffered depression and anxiety because of his health, maxed out credit cards, and had to quit his job because he is too sick to work.

But in spite of these biological, mental, and financial obstacles, in front of his parents, friends, coach, and 20,000 spectators on a sopping, rainy Hayward field in Eugene, Oregon, he placed ninth in a semi-final heat—the highlight of his professional career.

This week, we explore what happened after that storybook comeback in 2016. Brandon wants to run faster, to chase his dream of being a top-level elite runner. But he has body that steals his talent just when things are going his way.   

This episode of The Runner's World Show is brought to you by Brooks. Sign up for the Brooks Big Endorsement and become a sponsored athlete at www.BrooksAthlete.com/rw.

Additional Reading:

This Unsponsored Athlete has the Comeback Story of the Trials by Kit Fox

Vasculitis Foundation

Credits:

Host: Rachel Swaby

Producers: Kit Fox, Rachel Swaby

Feedback by: Christine Fennessy, Brian Dalek, Sylvia Ryerson

Theme Music: Danny Cocke

Human Race is a proud part of Panoply

Jun 20 2017

49mins

Play

Episode 22: Skid Row Marathon

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When Judge Craig Mitchell visited the Midnight Mission homeless shelter on Skid Row in Los Angeles in 2012, the organization’s president asked him if he could think of any way to contribute. Judge Mitchell was an avid runner, and he worked nearby. So he offered to start a run club for guys in the shelter. He hoped to get to know the people staying at the Mission better, maybe foster a sense of community.  What he didn’t know was just how profoundly running would change their lives and his.  The run club he started is the subject of a new documentary premiering at the LA Film Festival on Saturday, June 16th. Mark and Gabi Hayes made the film, and they’ve given Human Race exclusive access to the interviews they conducted over the course of the four years they followed the group.  The group started on Skid Row, but its members did not finish there.

Additional Reading:

Skid Row Marathon at the LA Film Festival: Saturday, June 17th at 12pm.

Skid Row Marathon Website

And Skid Row Marathon on Facebook

Credits:Host: Rachel Swaby

Producer: Rachel Swaby

Reporting and documentary by Mark and Gabi Hayes.

Feedback from: Christine Fennessy, Brian Dalek, and Sylvia Ryerson

Founding editor in chief: David Willey

This episode is brought to you by Brooks.

Jun 07 2017

39mins

Play

Episode 21: Twenty-Four Years

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Run streakers people committed to running at least a mile every day. There are now Facebook groups filled with run streakers and a national organization. But before any of that, Brent Burmaster decided that he would run at least 5k, or 3.1 miles every day for the rest of his life. That was in 1993. More than 8,800 days later, Burmaster is still at it. But in the twenty-four years between then and now, his life took a dramatic turn. Burmaster had always been a heavy drinker, but his big nights out were mostly confined to the weekends. However, when his first marriage fell apart, he plunged into alcoholism, going to bars every night.

Was running holding his life together or enabling his addiction? Keeping him healthy or keeping him trapped in another addiction? That’s our story this week.

Additional Resources:

2017 Runner’s World Summer Running Streak

Soul’s Harbor

Alcoholics Anonymous

Host: Rachel Swaby

Producer: Rachel SwabyFeedback from: Brian Dalek, Sylvia Ryerson

Special thanks to Hollis Karoly, a doctoral student at the University of Colorado Boulder, for help with the science of alcoholism and exercise.

Theme music: Danny Cocke

Human Race editor in chief: David Willey

Human Race is a proud part of Panoply.

May 23 2017

48mins

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Episode 20: Rosie

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On Rosie Swale Pope’s 70th birthday, she jumped out of an airplane. But on Rosie’s list of nutty accomplishments, skydiving doesn’t even place. Pope has sailed solo across the Atlantic, run 27 marathons in 27 days, and ridden 3000 miles on horseback in South America. Her story is one of love and loss, a trip around the world and across America. She did both of those things, too. Unsupported and on foot.

Human Race caught up with her on the side of the road (appropriately) in Albany, Texas. She talked about the people she met on her journeys, running in sub-70 degree temperatures, and why “short, sharp adventures” are in her immediate future.

Further reading:

Just a Little Run Around the World by Rosie Swale Pope

40 Million Steps Around the World by Rachel Swaby (about Tom Denniss’s journey)

Episode Credits:

Host: Rachel SwabyProducer: Rachel SwabyFeedback from: Christine Fennessy, Brian Dalek, Sylvia RyersonTheme music: Danny CockeHuman Race editor in chief: David WilleyHuman Race is a proud part of Panoply.

May 09 2017

49mins

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Episode 19: Little Mo

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On May 6, 1967 in a suburb of Toronto, Canada, a 13-year-old girl named Maureen Wilton accomplished something extraordinary. In a marathon of 30 people, she set the women's world record, running 26.2 miles in 3:15:23.

Nicknamed “Little Mo” by her track teammates, Wilton’s accomplishment should have gone down as a defining moment in running history. It was, after all, just two weeks after the famous Kathrine Switzer completed the Boston Marathon wearing bib 261—despite the race director attempting to tackle her off the course.

Instead, Wilton’s achievement was treated with controversy and accusations of cheating. Whereas Switzer became a champion for women’s running—sparking an unprecedented growth in female participation in the sport—Wilton receded into the background.

So what happened to Little Mo? Fifty years after her world changing run, we revisit the historic race. And share the story of a forgotten women’s running revolutionary.

Episode Credits:

Host: Rachel Swaby

Producers: Rachel Swaby, Kit Fox

Feedback from: Christine Fennessy, Brian Dalek, Sylvia Ryerson

Theme music: Danny Cocke

Human Race editor in chief: David Willey

Human Race is a proud part of Panoply.

Apr 25 2017

51mins

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Boston Bonus Episode

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Runner’s World goes to Boston every year for the marathon. We always hear so many great stories while we're there. In this special Marathon Monday bonus episode, our hope is that we can share a few of those stories with you. 

Apr 17 2017

24mins

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Episode 18: Runner Down

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Shortly after mile seven in the 2015 Chicago Marathon, Richard Sikorski had a sudden cardiac arrest. His heart stopped beating and he collapsed in the middle of the road.

He wasn’t supposed to run the marathon. He was feeling under-trained and a little tired. But the energy at the race expo changed his mind. He called his wife. Told her, “It’s pasta for dinner.” He’d rather be around other runners and suffer through 26.2 than stay at home.

The decision to run profoundly altered the trajectory of his life. Sikorski started the race, but he did not finish it.

This is the story of the race to save his life—a race that requires a NASA-like command center, a year's worth of planning, hundreds of volunteers, and a little luck.

Additional reading:* "Last time I saw him he was dead" by Cindy Kuzma

* The Runner's Heart

Episode Credits:

Host: Rachel Swaby

Producers: Cindy Kuzma, Rachel Swaby

Editor: David Weinberg

Theme music: Danny Cocke

Human Race Editor-in-Chief: David Willey

Human Race is a proud part of Panoply.

Follow us on Twitter (@rwaudio) and Facebook (Runner's World Audio).

Apr 11 2017

48mins

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Quick Update

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Rachel is back from maternity leave, and Human Race will be back with season 3 on April 11th.

In the meantime, we want to hear from you!

Tell Human Race about your running club—and what makes it truly unique and special! Why? Because we—Human Race in collaboration with our sibling podcast The Runner’s World Show—want to do a story about you and the group of people you run with. Rachel wants to come to your favorite trail, local track, or Saturday morning meeting place to record your story. And, of course, she wants to run with you, too.

So please reach out! Give us a sentence or two about your club and a member of your group that you admire. And you, your club, or someone in it might be featured on Human Race or The Runner’s World Show. You can email us at RWAudio@rodale.com. Or tweet Rachel at: @rachelswaby.

We can't wait to hear your stories.

Feb 14 2017

1min

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Episode 17: Witold and Urszula

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Two years ago, at the 2015 Fifth Avenue Mile, Witold Bialokur ran a seven minute time. He did it at 80 years-old. The second place finisher in his group came in a minute and twenty seconds later.

Witold is what most of us can only dream of becoming at his age. He’s fit, not frail, and he runs faster that most Americans can run at any age.

But greatness like this comes at a price. 

We’ll visit Witold Bialokur, a Polish immigrant born before the start of WWII. Witold’s run nearly his whole life. When he was young, it was a way to survive as a kid in exile during the war. Later it became a path to notoriety as a promising athlete and national running coach in Poland. And, when he got older, running was a part-time passion—and an obsession—as an amateur in Queens, New York.

Take a journey through the life of one of the most remarkable runners around. You’ll get a glimpse into the methods of a master running coach, see what it takes to achieve greatness, but also the perils of being super competitive and obsessed with being your best.

And there will be dancing.

This episode of Human Race is sponsored by Aaptiv, an on-demand audio fitness app that you can do at home, at the gym, outdoors - anywhere. Get your first month free when you sign up for a monthly subscription at and use the promo code "HUMAN."

To see pictures of Witold and Urzsula and of the master coach in action, head to www.runnersworld.com/audio and check out the show page for this episode.

Visit Witold's Runner's at:

https://www.facebook.com/witoldsrunners/

Episode Credits:

Host: David Weinberg

Producer: Mervyn Degaños

Editing help: Christine Fennessy, Sylvia Ryerson

Theme music: Danny Cocke

Human Race editor in chief: David Willey

Human Race is a proud part of Panoply.

Follow us on Twitter (@rwaudio) and Facebook (Runner's World Audio).

Jan 31 2017

1hr 2mins

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Episode 16: Running Clean

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When Keith Giroux decided to run the Boston Marathon he had a number of logistical hurdles to overcome. For starters, he hadn't run a qualifying race. In fact he'd never run any formal race ever. Then there was the issue of gear. He didn't own a pair of running shoes or running shorts. And he only had ten days to solve all these problems. Also he was in jail.

This episode of Human Race is brought to you by Brooks. Sign up for the Brooks Big Endorsement and become a sponsored athlete at www.BrooksAthlete.com/rw.

To support Keith's running goals visit:

http://www.gofundme.com/a-run-for-meaning

Episode Credits:

Host: David Weinberg

Producer: David Weinberg

Editing help: Christine Fennessy, Sylvia Ryerson

Theme music: Danny Cocke

Human Race editor in chief: David Willey

Human Race is a proud part of Panoply.

Follow us on Twitter (@rwaudio) and Facebook (Runner's World Audio).

Jan 17 2017

37mins

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Episode 15: Endurance

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We've got two stories this week. The first is about why we run, not just as runners but as human beings. In the 1980s a biologist named Dave Carrier came up with a controversial theory about human evolution. He called it the "Running Hypothesis" and it was based on the idea that humans became elite long distance runners so that we could hunt large game by chasing it on foot until the animal collapsed from exhaustion. So Carrier and his brother, a radio producer named Scott went to Wyoming to prove this theory by trying to run down an antelope until it collapsed.

The second story comes from producer Karen Given and is about a runner who set a surprising marathon goal after volunteering for a major surgery to save his mother-in-law’s life. We also learn how to hide an engagement ring in your running clothes.

Additional Listening:

Producer Scott Carrier has a podcast called Home of the Brave. You can listen to more of his work at homebrave.com.

Producer Karen Given works on a show called Only A Game. You can listen to more of her work for that show at http://www.wbur.org/staff/karen-given.

This episode of Human Race is sponsored by Aaptiv, an on-demand audio fitness app that you can do at home, at the gym, outdoors - anywhere. Get your first month free when you sign up for a monthly subscription at and use the promo code "HUMAN."

Episode Credits:

Host: David Weinberg

Producers: Scott Carrier, Karen Given

Theme music: Danny Cocke

Human Race editor in chief: David Willey

Human Race is a proud part of Panoply.

Follow us on Twitter (@rwaudio) and Facebook (Runner's World Audio).

Jan 03 2017

39mins

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Episode 3: Sylvia

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Sylvia Weiner is a prolific runner. She’s 85 years old, and she estimates that, during the course of her running career, she’s completed nearly 2,000 races—and she’s got an extensive collection of race medals and trophies to prove it. In 1975, Sylvia even claimed a very special spot in Boston Marathon history.

But her most significant legacy has nothing to do with race accolades. When Sylvia runs, she shows others what’s possible. Her long-term dedication to the sport is impressive. “I have to stick to [running] for dear life,” she says. That’s because running is more than a passion; it’s a way of dealing with her traumatic past.

In this week’s episode, Sylvia shares her incredible story. Let’s just say, there’s a reason Sylvia’s longtime running buddy greets her with an enthusiastic, “Sylvia! She’s our hero!”

Episode Credits:

Host: Rachel Swaby

Producers: Rachel Swaby, Audrey Quinn, Christine Fennessy

Editing help: Brian Dalek

Special thanks: Gordon Asmundson from the University of Regina for sharing his research.

Debbie Weiner for her help with this story.

Theme music: Danny Cocke

Human Race editor-in-chief: David Willey

Human Race is a member of Panoply.

Dec 20 2016

44mins

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Episode 1: Tinman

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A story about a man who lost his heart. And what he gained in its place. On this episode, we meet Randy Shepherd, one very unlikely runner. Randy is 42 now, and never enjoyed running very much. He was more of a team sports guy. But beyond that, he had a rock-solid excuse for staying on the couch. Back when he was in his 30s, Shepherd’s already compromised heart rapidly began to fail. There was no time to match him with a transplant donor. Certain that Shepherd could die at any moment, surgeons removed his heart and replaced it with a machine called a total artificial heart. Right out of the surgery, he faced difficult questions. What happens when you lose such an essential part of yourself? What can you physically do (and not do) when a machine powers your body? His choice ultimately transformed his life.

Visit the show page here for pictures of Randy in action.

Episode Credits: Host: David Weinberg

Producers: Rachel Swaby, Audrey Quinn, Christine Fennessy

Editing help: Brian Dalek, Chris Kraft, Sylvia Ryerson

Theme music: Danny Cocke

Human Race editor in chief: David Willey

Human Race is a proud part of Panoply.

Dec 06 2016

42mins

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