Ryan Hall
Courtesy Ryan Hall

Ryan Hall says 7 marathons in 7 days gave him ‘sense of closure’

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Ryan Hall couldn’t walk without limping when he disembarked his airplane in Sydney last weekend. That’s when he knew he was in for the hardest marathon of his life Sunday.

Hall completed the World Marathon Challenge — seven marathons on seven continents in seven days — by clocking 5 hours, 15 minutes, 34 seconds in Sydney. He run/walked the entire marathon in Australia and then left his shoes at the finish line, signifying the final 26.2-mile race of his career.

As Hall waited in the Sydney airport for his flight home Tuesday, he couldn’t help but think of his first long run at age 13 — 15 miles around Big Bear Lake at 7,000 feet above sea level in California. In basketball shoes.

That outing sparked a career that included two Olympics and the fastest marathon recorded by an American — 2:04:58 at the 2011 Boston Marathon.

“So to end it with another epic running adventure, going around the world running seven marathons in seven days, just seemed like very fitting,” Hall said in a phone interview from Sydney. “It kind of gave me a nice sense of closure, which I think I was still looking for. It was kind of weird of how my body fell apart, and I retired. I never had the opportunity to have a farewell race. I felt like this week was that for me. It was actually an emotional moment for me walking away from my shoes on the finish line.”

Hall, 34, announced his retirement from elite marathon running in January 2016. Before that, he had finished one marathon since finishing second at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials.

He quit at an early age for a marathoner due to “chronically low testosterone levels and fatigue so extreme … he can barely log 12 easy miles a week,” according to The New York Times.

He became engrossed in weightlifting last year, reaching 177 pounds by the time he toed the line for his first of seven marathons in Antarctica last week. That’s about 50 pounds heavier than his elite racing weight. Hall’s longest training run in the previous four months was eight miles.

“I didn’t even know I could finish,” he said, calling it a coin flip going in. “I was thrilled I made it through at all.”

The seven marathons were obviously quite different than anything Hall had previously experienced. He ran alone for most of the races (only 22 men were able to complete the seven-day gauntlet). He ran races with headphones for the first time, with varied playlists, from electric dance to church worship.

And he ate like never before. Some 16 cookies in Morocco, an estimated 45 Muscle Milk bars in a week and the coup de grâce, six Krispy Kreme doughnuts during that agonizing Sydney limpthrough. Hall can now relate to those who run five-hour marathons (“Way harder than running 2:04,” he insists).

“Probably the ugliest marathon ever run, but I made it,” said Hall, who still lost five pounds overall. “I was thinking, too, I probably set a world record for biggest differential between your fastest marathon and your slowest marathon.”

Hall said the biggest challenge was sleep deprivation. With so much flying from country to country, he only spent two nights in a hotel and averaged a few hours of sleep per night.

Old injuries popped up, such as the right hip pain that first struck at the 2009 New York City Marathon. And the right hamstring tightness that forced him out of the 2012 Olympics. It still throbs when he sits for an extended period.

Hall said he still hopes to run adventure races, but his focus is the weight room. He’s close to reaching a goal of 300 pounds in the dead lift, squat and bench press.

The most special moment of the previous week was laying his shoes at the Sydney finish, a symbolic act of retirement common in weightlifting and wrestling.

“That’s just how I always pictured my career ending in running,” Hall said. “The way things happened [as an elite], I didn’t get a chance to do that, so that was really cool for me to end my career on my terms the way I wanted it to end.”

MORE: Olympian ends longest running streak in history

Olympic Channel Broadcast Schedule: July 24 – 30

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The Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA brings you access to your favorite Olympic sports and athletes year-round, 24/7.

Check the Channel Finder to see how you can watch the Olympic Channel in your area.

It is also available to stream live on OlympicChannel.com, the Olympic Channel app, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. Select replays and highlights will be available on those platforms and TeamUSA.org.

See below for the latest Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA broadcast schedule, from July 24-30:

Day Program Time (ET)
Monday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 1 – Semifinals & Finals 12:00 AM
Monday FINA World Water Polo Championships Men’s Crossover Match #1 02:00 AM
Monday Gold Medal Entourage: Olympians Fabian Gomez, Mohamed Lahna and Alex & Maia Shibutani 03:00 AM
Monday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 2 – Heats 03:30 AM
Monday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 2 – Heats 06:00 AM
Monday Return to London: Men’s Basketball – USA vs. Lithuania (preliminary round) 06:30 AM
Monday FINA World Water Polo Championships Women’s Quarterfinal #1 08:30 AM
Monday FINA World Water Polo Championships Women’s Quarterfinal #2 10:00 AM
Monday World Games Day 3 from Wroclaw, Poland 11:30 AM
Monday FIE World Fencing Championships Day 3 from Leipzig, Germany 12:30 PM
Monday World Para Track & Field Championships Day 10 from London, England 01:30 PM
Monday FINA World Water Polo Championships Women’s Quarterfinal #3 02:30 PM
Monday FINA World Water Polo Championships Women’s Quarterfinal #4 04:00 PM
Monday Flame Catchers: London 2012 05:30 PM
Monday Flame Catchers: Athens 2004 06:00 PM
Monday FINA World Water Polo Championships Women’s Quarterfinal #1 06:30 PM
Monday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 2 – Semifinals & Finals 08:00 PM
Monday FIE World Fencing Championships Day 4 from Leipzig, Germany 09:30 PM
Monday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 2 – Semifinals & Finals 10:30 PM
Monday FINA World Water Polo Championships Women’s Quarterfinal #2 12:00 AM
Monday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 2 – Semifinals & Finals 01:30 AM
Monday Flame Catchers: Athens 2004 03:00 AM
Monday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 3 – Heats 03:30 AM
Tuesday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 3 – Heats 06:00 AM
Tuesday Return to London: Men’s Basketball – USA vs. Australia (quarterfinal) 06:30 AM
Tuesday FINA World Water Polo Championships Men’s Quarterfinal #1 08:30 AM
Tuesday FINA World Water Polo Championships Men’s Quarterfinal #2 10:00 AM
Tuesday World Games Day 4 from Wroclaw, Poland 11:30 AM
Tuesday FIE World Fencing Championships Day 4 from Leipzig, Germany 12:30 PM
Tuesday Return to Rio Women’s Water Polo: USA vs. Italy (final) 01:30 PM
Tuesday FINA World Water Polo Championships Men’s Quarterfinal #3 02:30 PM
Tuesday FINA World Water Polo Championships Men’s Quarterfinal #4 04:00 PM
Tuesday Flame Catchers: Athens 2004 05:30 PM
Tuesday Flame Catchers: Sydney 2000 06:00 PM
Tuesday FINA World Water Polo Championships Men’s Quarterfinal #1 06:30 PM
Tuesday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 3 – Semifinals & Finals 08:00 PM
Tuesday FIE World Fencing Championships Day 5 from Leipzig, Germany 10:00 PM
Tuesday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 3 – Semifinals & Finals 11:00 PM
Tuesday FINA World Water Polo Championships Men’s Quarterfinal #2 01:00 AM
Tuesday Flame Catchers: Athens 2004 02:30 AM
Tuesday Flame Catchers: Sydney 2000 03:00 AM
Tuesday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 4 – Heats 03:30 AM
Wednesday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 4 – Heats 06:00 AM
Wednesday Return to London: Men’s Basketball – USA vs. Argentina (semifinal) 06:30 AM
Wednesday Return to London: Track & Field – Men’s Distance Events 08:30 AM
Wednesday Return to London: Track & Field – Women’s Sprint Events 09:30 AM
Wednesday Return to London: Track & Field – Men’s Sprint Events 10:30 AM
Wednesday World Games Day 5 from Wroclaw, Poland 11:30 AM
Wednesday FIE World Fencing Championships Day 5 from Leipzig, Germany 12:30 PM
Wednesday Return to London: Women’s Water Polo – USA vs. Spain (final) 01:30 PM
Wednesday FINA World Water Polo Championships Women’s Semifinal #1 02:30 PM
Wednesday FINA World Water Polo Championships Women’s Semifinal #2 04:00 PM
Wednesday Flame Catchers: Sydney 2000 05:30 PM
Wednesday Flame Catchers: Atlanta 1996 06:00 PM
Wednesday FINA World Water Polo Championships Women’s Semifinal #1 06:30 PM
Wednesday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 4 – Semifinals & Finals 08:00 PM
Wednesday FIE World Fencing Championships Day 6 from Leipzig, Germany 10:00 PM
Wednesday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 4 – Semifinals & Finals 11:00 PM
Wednesday FINA World Water Polo Championships Women’s Semifinal #2 01:00 AM
Wednesday Flame Catchers: Sydney 2000 02:30 AM
Wednesday Flame Catchers: Atlanta 1996 03:00 AM
Wednesday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 5 – Heats 03:30 AM
Thursday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 5 – Heats 06:00 AM
Thursday Return to London: Men’s Basketball – USA vs. Spain (final) 06:30 AM
Thursday Return to Rio: Track & Field – Men’s Distance Events 08:30 AM
Thursday Return to Rio: Track & Field – Women’s Sprint Events 09:30 AM
Thursday Return to Rio: Track & Field – Men’s Sprint Events 10:30 AM
Thursday World Games Day 6 from Wroclaw, Poland 11:30 AM
Thursday FIE World Fencing Championships Day 6 from Leipzig, Germany 12:30 PM
Thursday Gold Medal Entourage: Olympians Jaime Espinal, Miles Chamley-Watson and Devin Logan 01:30 PM
Thursday Gold Medal Entourage: Olympians Kayla Harrison, Marti Malloy, Toni-Ann Williams and Mark McMorris 02:00 PM
Thursday FINA World Water Polo Championships Men’s Semifinal #1 02:30 PM
Thursday FINA World Water Polo Championships Men’s Semifinal #2 04:00 PM
Thursday Flame Catchers: Atlanta 1996 05:30 PM
Thursday Flame Catchers: London 2012 06:00 PM
Thursday FINA World Water Polo Championships Men’s Semifinal #1 06:30 PM
Thursday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 5 – Semifinals & Finals 08:00 PM
Thursday Return to London: Track & Field – Men’s Sprint Events 10:00 PM
Thursday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 5 – Semifinals & Finals 11:00 PM
Thursday FINA World Water Polo Championships Men’s Semifinal #1 01:00 AM
Thursday Flame Catchers: Atlanta 1996 02:30 AM
Thursday Flame Catchers: London 2012 03:00 AM
Thursday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 6 – Heats 03:30 AM
Friday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 6 – Heats 06:00 AM
Friday Flame Catchers: Sydney 2000 06:30 AM
Friday Return to London: Women’s Water Polo – USA vs. Spain (final) 07:00 AM
Friday World Games Day 7 from Wroclaw, Poland 08:00 AM
Friday FINA World Water Polo Championships Women’s Bronze Medal Match 09:00 AM
Friday Flame Catchers: Athens 2004 10:30 AM
Friday FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships Pool Play 11:00 AM
Friday Flame Catchers: Atlanta 1996 02:00 PM
Friday FINA World Water Polo Championships Women’s Gold Medal Match 02:30 PM
Friday FINA World Water Polo Championships Women’s Bronze Medal Match 04:00 PM
Friday Return to Rio: Track & Field – Decathlon, Heptathlon, Field Events 05:30 PM
Friday FINA World Water Polo Championships Women’s Gold Medal Match 06:30 PM
Friday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 6 – Semifinals & Finals 08:00 PM
Friday Return to Rio: Track & Field – Men’s Sprint Events 10:00 PM
Friday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 6 – Semifinals & Finals 11:00 PM
Friday FINA World Water Polo Championships Women’s Gold Medal Match 01:00 AM
Friday Flame Catchers: London 2012 02:30 AM
Friday Flame Catchers: Athens 2004 03:00 AM
Friday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 7 – Heats 03:30 AM
Saturday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 7 – Heats 06:00 AM
Saturday Return to London: Women’s Beach Volleyball – USA vs. USA (final) 06:30 AM
Saturday Flame Catchers: Sydney 2000 07:30 AM
Saturday World Games Day 8 from Wroclaw, Poland 08:00 AM
Saturday FINA World Water Polo Championships Men’s Bronze Medal Match 09:00 AM
Saturday Flame Catchers: Atlanta 1996 10:30 AM
Saturday FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships – Pool Play 11:00 AM
Saturday Flame Catchers: London 2012 02:00 PM
Saturday FINA World Water Polo Championships Men’s Gold Medal Match 02:30 PM
Saturday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 7 – Semifinals & Finals 04:00 PM
Saturday FINA World Diving Championships Women’s 20m High Dive Final 05:00 PM
Saturday FINA World Water Polo Championships Men’s Gold Medal Match 06:30 PM
Saturday US Classic Gymnastics From Chicago, Illinois 08:00 PM
Saturday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 7 – Semifinals & Finals 10:00 PM
Saturday UCI BMX World Championships From Rock Hill, South Carolina 11:00 PM
Saturday US Classic Gymnastics From Chicago, Illinois 12:00 AM
Saturday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 7 – Semifinals & Finals 02:00 AM
Saturday Flame Catchers: Athens 2004 03:00 AM
Saturday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 8 – Heats 03:30 AM
Sunday Against All Odds: Fiji’s Gold Medalist Jerry Tuwai 06:00 AM
Sunday Against All Odds: Petra Majdic and the Miracle of Vancouver 06:30 AM
Sunday Return to Rio: Track Cycling & BMX 07:00 AM
Sunday World Games Day 9 from Wroclaw, Poland 08:00 AM
Sunday Flame Catchers: Sydney 2000 09:00 AM
Sunday FINA World Diving Championships Women’s 20m High Dive Final 09:30 AM
Sunday FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships Pool Play 11:00 AM
Sunday US Classic Gymnastics From Chicago, Illinois 02:00 PM
Sunday ITU World Triathlon Series Women’s Sprint – Edmonton, Canada 04:00 PM
Sunday ITU World Triathlon Series Men’s Sprint – Edmonton, Canada 05:00 PM
Sunday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 8 – Semifinals & Finals 06:00 PM
Sunday FINA World Diving Championships Men’s 27m High Dive Final 08:00 PM
Sunday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 8 – Semifinals & Finals 09:30 PM
Sunday FINA World Diving Championships Men’s 27m High Dive Final 11:30 PM

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Michael Phelps loses Shark Week ‘race’ to great white (video)

Michael Phelps, Shark
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Michael Phelps was beaten by a great white shark in a Shark Week “race.”

Great White: 36.1 seconds
Michael Phelps: 38.13 seconds

Full video is here.

“I don’t like taking silver medals, but I’ll take one to a great white,” said Phelps, who complained about swimming in 50-degree water in a thin wetsuit but still called it “a dream come true.” “We don’t swim in this, so it basically just shocks our entire body. It’s almost like [the shark is] a bullet.”

The 23-time Olympic champion was not in the race water at the same time as a shark on “Phelps vs. Shark: Great Gold vs. Great White,” which aired on Discovery Channel on Sunday night.

Instead, experts determined the speeds and movements of sharks for hypothetical races. Then, Phelps dove into open water off South Africa alone with a monofin and swam to a buoy earlier this year.

VIDEO: Usain Bolt races Cheetah

Experts determined a great white could cover 100 meters in 36.1 seconds, which is much faster than Brazilian Cesar Cielo‘s 100m freestyle world record of 46.91.

They said a great white could reach up to 26 miles per hour at its fastest, meaning it could close the final 10 meters of a race in one second.

Early in the show in the Bahamas, Phelps outswam a hypothetical reef shark but was beaten by a hammerhead’s late surge in a 50-meter race.

Michael Phelps, Shark

The show used Phelps’ world record 100m butterfly swim from the 2009 World Championships for reference, saying he reached about 5.5 miles per hour at the end of the race.

A shark was super-imposed into a lane in that worlds race and easily outdistanced Phelps in the last 25 meters.

Phelps will star on the final night of Shark Week in “Shark School with Michael Phelps” next Sunday at 8 ET.

“Michael Phelps joins Doc Gruber and Tristan Guttridge of the Bimini Shark Lab to get a crash course on everything ‘shark,'” according to Discovery Channel. “They’ll dispel the myths and common misconceptions, teach him how to safely dive with sharks – including how to stay calm when a hammerhead swims two feet above his face – and will get Michael Phelps up close and personal with the incredible power of a great white.”

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MORE: Phelps says he doesn’t have itch to return to unretire

Michael Phelps, Shark
Discovery Channel Screenshot