Wednesday, April 19, 2006

My Brother

Sailor breaks world record

Story and photo by
Senior Airman Mark Woodbury
Multi-National Security Transition Command – Iraq

BAGHDAD, Iraq — At 5 feet 9 inches and 190 pounds. U.S. Navy Lt. Buck Herdegen is built more like an Abrams tank than a Ferrari, but his stocky frame broke a world speed record, covering 50 kilometers on a treadmill in 3 hours, 38 minutes and 6 seconds.

Herdegen, who has worked with the Multi-National Security Transition Command - Iraq for the past six months, got the idea from his younger brother, also assigned to the command.

“(My brother) was reading an article on the Internet one day about Geoff Weber, a Navy lieutenant, who had set a new world record by running 50K on a treadmill in 3:41:53,” said Herdegen. “So, he turned to me and said, ‘You can do that can’t you?’”

Being the older brother, Herdegen said he couldn’t let his little brother down. Two weeks later he was running for the record.
“I really wasn’t at all sure that I could do it, but I had been doing a lot of running on the treadmill so it seemed at least possible,” said Herdegen.

The Utah native, had already been training during his free time for the Salt Lake City Marathon to help raise money for the Huntsman Cancer Institute - a goal he set to pay tribute to his mother who is a cancer survivor. After contacting Guinness World Records, Herdegen ran head-first toward his new mark.

During the record-setting run, the first 42 kilometers went smoothly, covering the marathon distance in a little less than three hours, said Herdegen. But after that milestone things began getting a little more difficult.

“I hit the wall at 43K,” Herdegen recalls. “I was well ahead of the record at that point, but I had started out too fast and I needed a break to catch my breath. It’s one of those moments when even though there’s plenty of air around you, you feel like you can’t get enough oxygen.”

After a short break, Herdegen stepped back onto the treadmill, at a little slower pace this time.
“It felt like it took forever to cover those last seven kilometers,” he said. “I wanted to stop with literally every step, but I could see that the record was still within reach if I just kept moving.”

During the run the gym began to fill up with spectators who came to see if he would actually break the record.

“I wasn’t aware of how many people had come until I finished and turned around,” Herdegen said. “Many people had stopped by during my run to offer encouragement, and I could see out of the corner of my eye there were a few people off to the side as I was grinding out those last few kilometers.”

As it got down to the last kilometer, he said he could see that the record was his if he could just keep the pace for another five minutes.

“I was conscious of how quiet it had become,” he said. “I was half expecting someone to say something encouraging but dreading it at the same time because I knew I didn’t have any more to give.”

He said crowd must have sensed just how weary he was because they were absolutely silent until he had broken the record. Once broken, the crowd erupted into cheering and clapping all around him.

“It was very gratifying,” he said.

Utah native in Iraq sets treadmill record

Navy man runs for 3 hours 38 minutes to complete 50K
By Stephen Speckman
Deseret Morning News

Navy Lt. Siddhartha "Buck" Herdegen doesn't look like the type of guy who could break a world running record on a treadmill.
But at 5 feet, 9 inches, and 190 pounds, the 37-year-old Utah native won the battle of willpower March 25 by running in place for 50 kilometers (31.07 miles) in a time of 3 hours, 38 minutes and six seconds.

"I really had to push myself," Herdegen said Tuesday on the phone from Baghdad.
After hitting "the wall" at 43 kilometers, it became more of a mental feat than a physical test.
"I had to tell myself not to stop," he said.

The accomplishment has earned him recognition — for now — from the people who publish the Guinness Book of World Records. Navy Lt. Geoff Weber may want to reclaim his record, beaten by less than four minutes.
If Weber makes his move, Herdegen will be ready.
"You gotta defend the title," he said. "I expect he's going to try to break my record."

Growing up, Herdegen wasn't much of a runner.
In fact, the running bug didn't bite until 2004 while he was deployed for six months in Afghanistan, where he logged 1,500 miles.
He hasn't stopped running since.

In October 2005, Herdegen was sent to Baghdad. Although he's in a relatively safe area of Iraq, running outside in certain places still has its hazards, like being shot at. So, he runs inside, 60 miles a week during his lunch breaks with Sundays and Thursdays off.
When he's not running, Herdegen's job in Baghdad with the Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq is to do "paperwork," or so he tells his family in order to simplify the explanation.
Herdegen is scheduled to return later this month to his base in Pensacola, Fla., where his wife and four daughters are waiting for him.

While in Iraq, he has been content training for the Salt Lake City Marathon, to be held in June, and raising money for cancer research by taking pledges for his involvement in the race. (His mother is a cancer survivor.)
There were no thoughts of breaking any records until his little brother came along.

Army Reserve Staff Sgt. Nolayan Herdegen, 28, also in Baghdad, describes his brother this way: "He doesn't have that stereotypical long-distance runner physique," he said after his brother handed him the phone.
The brothers are both currently in Baghdad. The younger Herdegen has the more dangerous job of providing security for convoys — bullets have hit his vehicle.

As for physique, the two are about the same. Sometimes they run side-by-side on two of the three treadmills at the gym they use.
Stamina, however, is a different story, with the edge going to brother Buck.
But there was no "I dare you," no teasing or prodding or boiling competitive juices typical among brothers. There was just this record out there and Buck Herdegen seemed like the guy to break it.
"He said, 'Well, you can do that, can't you?' " Herdegen said of his younger sibling. "His assumption was that I could do it — he has a lot more confidence in me than I did."

But he did it, gave it all he had one Saturday and broke a record in front of a small crowd of cheering fans.
"I had nothing more to give," Herdegen said. "I was just completely exhausted."
Is he sick of the treadmill?
"I've come to find my peace with the treadmill," he said. "We get along fine."
Herdegen rested on Sunday and was back at it on Monday.


Blogger Peter Burnet said...

All hail Herdegens!

April 19, 2006 3:48 AM  
Blogger M Ali said...

That's really cool.

Whose idea was it to call them Siddharta and Nolayan, while you got Michael?

April 19, 2006 4:44 AM  
Blogger Brit said...

And have you inherited the long-distance running genes, or is your stamina only so prodigious in the field of blog debates?

April 19, 2006 5:46 AM  
Blogger Oroborous said...

I was the firstborn son, so I got my father's name.

However, one of my middle names is Beorn, which is what my family calls me.

My parents' children are named Michael-Gerrard Beorn, Siddhartha Darvin, Auralie Morningmeadow, Aeowyn Evenstar, Zenas Trahern, and Nolayan Odain. We're a poor man's United Nations, when we get together.

We could do the translating, too: Various members of my family speak Chinese, Dutch, French, Hungarian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, and Welsh.

April 19, 2006 5:59 AM  
Blogger Brit said...

No wonder you became a conservative.

April 19, 2006 6:08 AM  
Blogger Oroborous said...

As for running, that's a good question.
Nobody in my family has ever exhibited any talent or inclination for running, until now.

I certainly don't like to run, or rather, I don't like to begin running. After I've gone a few miles, sometimes I get in the zone and don't mind going for a few more, and when I was in the Army, although I was far from the fastest runner, I did have great stamina, and would sometimes run down the early rabbits, if the course was long enough.

So the answer is that I would probably do very well in very long distance races, but although there is some slight possibility that I might take it up, especially now that I have an example and role model, the most likely thing is that I'll leave the ultramarathon glory to my brother.

April 19, 2006 6:09 AM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

I certainly don't like to run...After I've gone a few miles...

You're something else, Oro.

Are those names cool, or what? I sure would have loved to see the looks on your neighbours' faces when your folks called you and your siblings all home to dinner. Talk about making Bobby's and Debbie's parents feel inadequate!

April 19, 2006 7:01 AM  
Blogger Oroborous said...

Yeah, our names certainly reinforced our family's uniqueness, and we have definitely often enjoyed the "wow" factor.

But not always.
There's a reason why I go by "Mike", and my brother Siddhartha by "Buck", and my sister Aeowyn sometimes uses "Ann".

Sometimes you know that your level of interaction with new people is going to be superficial, and you just want to give them a name that they'll be immediately comfortable with, and move on.

Still, the next generation has among them Vanya, Magnolia, Frey, Tudor, Ara, and Xerxes.

April 19, 2006 8:22 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

I find it amazing that he has been able to reach that high a level of performance in only 2 years of running!

The closest I have ever come to being on a wartime deployment was three weeks I spent in Twentynine Palms, CA on a Combined Arms Exercise in the Marines. I found running to be a great distraction from the utter boredom that filled up the time that wasn't spent in frantic activity. Also it helped me from gaining weight on all the great chowhall food that was served up three times a day.

April 19, 2006 8:23 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

Are the Herdegens natural linguists, or is that a travelogue of mission assignments?

I would have gone for the second, except for the Welsh.

April 19, 2006 11:10 AM  
Blogger Oroborous said...


Both of my parents have voiced their puzzlement over ALL of their children being more conservative than they are.

For instance, they both voted for Gore and Kerry.

While not all of us voted for Bush in '00 and '04, none of us voted for Gore or Kerry.

I'm actually in the middle, philosophically speaking, of my siblings' political views; both of the brothers named in the articles are much more conservative than I am.


He's only been seriously running for two years, but he was very fit before he started; he actually set some kind of exercise endurance record for his boat, back when he was in the submarine service. (He's an aviator now).

So he didn't go from couch to world record in two years, he just decided to focus more strongly on running.


Both, actually.
Half of us are indeed natural linguists.

Also, my mother, a sister, a brother, and an in-law have all attended the DoD's Defense Language Institute in Monterrey, Cali., two of them lucky enough to go twice.

They all learned Chinese there, two learned Russian, and one learned Arabic.

Most of us served religious missions for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is where the Hungarian, Portuguese, more Russian, and Spanish come in.

The Swedish and Welsh come from marrying a foreigner, living overseas, and wanting to speak the local language.

April 19, 2006 1:46 PM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

Still, the next generation has among them Vanya, Magnolia, Frey, Tudor, Ara, and Xerxes.

What, no Moon Unit?

April 19, 2006 5:08 PM  
Blogger Brit said...

'Aeowyn Evenstar' is Middle-Earth isn't it?

Very pretty though.

April 20, 2006 12:34 AM  
Blogger Oroborous said...

Eowyn was the daughter of the King of the Horsemen in Middle-Earth; Beorn was a character that appeared in The Hobbit, based on a Norse legend.

April 20, 2006 6:09 AM  
Blogger David said...

Oro: Your brothers will have to look up my brother when he gets to Baghdad in a week or so.

August 21, 2006 8:25 AM  
Blogger Ayn R. Key said...

I thought Nolayan was a libertarian, not a conservative. I met him at LPLAC meetings.

January 31, 2007 9:56 AM  
Blogger BrewPat said...

This "record" is fishy. Look up this guys marathons over the last few years and he only broke 4 hours once? His fastest marathon he averaged over 9 minutes per mile, but he can run 50K (5 miles longer) in 7 minutes per mile? I don't think so.

November 24, 2007 10:12 PM  

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