Armed with enthusiastic ambition and an affinity for fitness, British astronaut Tim Peake announced today that despite the fact he’ll be aboard the International Space Station during the 2016 London Marathon, he’ll be participating in the event. Unveiled by Peake via a YouTube video, not only does he intend to become the first person to run a marathon in space, but he’ll be using an innovative new running technology to accomplish the feat. And you thought you maintained an active lifestyle.
To accomplish this feat, Peake plans to make use of the ISS’s on-board treadmill on race day, though he won’t have to just stare at the inside of the facility while running. Instead, the astronaut intends to utilize a revolutionary new mixed reality tech from the folks over at RunSocial, which will allow him to see exactly what runners will see during the race. So while Peake resides some 250 miles above Earth’s surface, the innovative tech should make him feel as if he’s actually running the streets of London next April.
“The thing I’m most looking forward to is that I can still interact with everybody down on Earth,” said Peake in a European Space Agency press release. “I’ll be running it with the iPad and watching myself running through the streets of London whilst orbiting the earth at 400km.”
Created in partnership with London Marathon Events over the last three years, RunSocial built the visual course from an HD recording of the marathon in 2013 and 2014. After rendering the recordings into what it calls a “mixed reality” video, runners all over the world will have the ability to experience the race without actually being in London. Playback of the course matches the speed at which a runner runs on a treadmill while also populating the track with virtual reality avatars of others using the application. For Peake, he’ll have his own unique astronaut character so other runners know where he is.
No stranger to the London Marathon itself, Peake participated in the event back in 1999 and posted an impressive finish time of just 3:18. This time around, however, Peake won’t attempt to break any personal records as a medical team with the ESA plans to closely monitor his run to assure he remains healthy enough for the return trip home.
“I have to wear a harness system that’s a bit similar to a rucksack. It has a waistbelt and shoulder straps,” said Peake. “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.”
Peake, along with Russian astronaut Yuri Malenchenko and NASA astronaut Tim Copra, plan to launch to the ISS on December 15 from Baikonur, Kazakhstan. Moreover, those interested in following along with him as he makes his way to the space station — and to see him run the London Marathon — can head over to the ESA website.