Sailor breaks world record
Story and photo by
Senior Airman Mark Woodbury
Multi-National Security Transition Command – IraqBAGHDAD, 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.