Tim Peake Runs London Marathon from Space

Tim Peake Runs London Marathon from Space

19/04/2016Written by Tamela Maciel

British astronaut in space joins 38,000 other people running the London Marathon.

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2016 London Marathon

2016 London Marathon
Image Credit: Virgin Money London Marathon

Tim is just one of 38,000 people getting ready for the 2016 London Marathon.

By now he has probably completed his last training run and may even be planning out his protein and carb diet for the next few days. But unlike all the other runners, Tim won’t be traveling to London. Tim is on board the International Space Station and will be running the London Marathon from space.

British astronaut Tim Peake is more than halfway through his six-month stay on the ISS, which means that he’s had plenty of time to get used to microgravity and perfect his mid-air somersault . But unfortunately that also means that Tim’s body has been busy getting rid of ‘useless’ things like his skeleton (at the rate of 1.5% every month) and his muscles. Bad news for his marathon plans.

Running in Space

To counteract these losses, Tim and the other astronauts on board the ISS exercise two hours every day. Their gym consists of a treadmill, a stationary bike, and a resistance weight machine.

Image Credit: ESA/NASA

Image Credit: ESA/NASA

Using these in a weightless environment is not as easy as you might think. The astronauts have to be strapped to the equipment to keep from floating away as they exercise, and to make sure that their bodies get the right amount of resistance. The treadmill harness could be the most painful part of Tim’s London marathon. “I have to wear a harness system that’s a bit similar to a rucksack. It has a waistbelt and shoulder straps. That has to provide quite a bit of downforce to get my body onto the treadmill so after about 40 minutes, that gets very uncomfortable,” said Tim before his launch. “I don’t think I’ll be setting any personal bests. I’ve set myself a goal of anywhere between 3:30 to 4 hours.”

Tim will run the London Marathon in real time, setting off at 10am BST on 24 April and using an iPad to track his “progress” through the streets of London.

Image Credit: ESA/NASA

Other Space Marathon Runners

The only other astronaut to run a marathon from space was NASA astronaut Sunita Williams, who ran the Boston Marathon in 2007. Back on Earth, two people involved in Tim’s mission, Jonathan Scott  and Libby Jackson, will be running the London Marathon in authentic space suits, attempting to break the world record for the Fastest Marathon by a Man/Woman Wearing a Replica Space Suit, respectively. Amazingly, this record is already a thing.

One Millionth Finisher

The 2016 London Marathon is particularly exciting because one of the runners will become the one millionth finisher since the race started in 1981. Maybe it will be Tim Peake!

 

Either way, Tim is due to receive a commemorative #oneinamillion T-shirt  that displays his finisher number (386,675) from the last time he ran the London Marathon in 1999.

Exercise is important for everyone, but it is crucial for astronauts on long-duration missions. We don’t fully understand how the body adapts to weightlessness and so many of Tim Peake’s science experiments on the ISS are focused on human biology. Marathons aside, this research will be crucial for any future manned missions to Mars and beyond.

If you want to find out more about the human body in space, we have an Into Space gallery at the National Space Centre where you can find an authentic cosmonaut ‘penguin’ suit. Along with exercise, cosmonauts and astronauts wear this elasticated suit to keep blood flowing throughout their body and to keep their muscles and bones from deteriorating in space.