The year 2020 was unprecedented in many ways and the defining factor was good health. Many found comfort in fitness and workout routines to cope with doomscrolling, pandemic-induced stress, social distancing and the new rules of work from home. And there were moments that broke the internet. Here’s Finisher Magazine’s list of the top newsmakers of 2020:
Man Runs Marathon Inside Apartment In China
Pan Shancu, a 44-year-old data tracker from China, jogged 66 km in a loop at home in six hours, 41 minutes. There’s a video of him circling the furniture in his apartment. He even ran 30 km inside the bathroom and live-streamed the whole feat.
“Running is like an addiction. If you don’t run for a long time, you get itchy feet,” Pan told AFP. He had initially felt dizzy but “you get used to it after you circle many times”.
Shooting of Ahmaud Arbery
Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old black man from Georgia, US, was shot dead while he was out on a run on February 23. The police report stated that he was chased by an armed father-son duo. This incident sparked worldwide outrage and also garnered global attention with celebrities like Hasan Minhaj extending support to #IRUNWITHMAUD. The incident was a tipping point in the #BlackLivesMatter protests and raised questions on why and how the safety of people of colour within the running community has been missing from the discourse.
Video Of Yulia Efimova Swimming At Home Goes Viral
Athletes quarantining at home resorted to all kinds of innovative ways to continue with their training, especially with the Olympic Games postponed to 2021. Three-time Olympic medallist and world swimming champion Russian Yulia Efimova took it up a few notches. Here’s a video of her practising swimming in her kitchen:
Meet Olympia Lightning Bolt
World’s fastest man and eight-time Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt announced the birth of his daughter in May with a series of cute photographs and a very apt name: Olympia Lightning Bolt.
Olympia Lightning Bolt ⚡️ pic.twitter.com/Ovo5PzVQAt
— Usain St. Leo Bolt (@usainbolt) July 7, 2020
Cyberattack On Garmin
Garmin, one of the popular GPS-enabled fitness trackers, fell victim to a massive cyberattack in July, which completely disabled the website Garmin.com, the app Garmin Connect and a host of other services for almost seven days. Garmin users were unable to sync their workouts and access other services.
Later Garmin clarified that no customer data, including payment information, was accessed, stolen or lost and assured all data regarding activity, health and wellness stored on devices were unaffected.
The attack was reportedly launched by ransomware WastedLocker and Garmin was allegedly asked to pay a ransom of $10 million for the restoration of its services. It was not clear whether Garmin paid the attackers. The outage led to angry tweets, posts and memes, lots and lots of memes.
Joshua Cheptegei’s Brilliant Year
A year when all major races and events were cancelled and uncertainty prevailed everywhere, Ugandan athlete Joshua Cheptegei managed to make lemonades out of this lemon of a year. In the world of athletics, you could say 2020, in a way, belonged to Cheptegei. In February 2020, in Monaco, he broke Kenya’s Sammy Kipketer 5k world record set in 2000 and finished the run in 12:51. In August, continuing his winning streak, he broke Kenenisa Bekele’s 16-year-old 5,000m record and finished the race in 12:35.36. He ended the year by smashing Bekele’s 10,000m record and finishing the race in 26:11.00.
On his world records, he told the Olympic Channel, “There would not be a right moment to try and break the world record. So I told myself even if we have Covid-19 now, this year presents me the right moment and the right opportunity to try and make history. That was the genesis of thinking about breaking the world record.”
Caster Semenya Loses 11-Year Legal Battle
Olympic champion Caster Semenya in September lost her long-drawn legal battle against World Athletics regulations requiring women athletes with high testosterone to take drugs to reduce the levels and compete internationally in middle-distance races. A report by a human rights group stated that here’s not enough scientific evidence to show that higher levels of testosterone impact performance and accused the World Athletics of targeting and harming women track and field athletes from the Global South for “abusive sex testing” regulations based on racially biased standards of femininity and gender stereotypes. The report terms these “practices as unscientific, unethical, and violations of domestic and international human rights laws”.
Utah Jogger’s Encounter With Mountain Lion
Kyle Burgess had stepped out for a jog on a local trail in Utah, where he had unexpected company. He got chased by a ferocious mountain lion for a full six minutes who was trying to chase him away from her cubs and just stopped short of pouncing on him. The entire adventure was recorded by Burgess.
Nine-Month Pregnant Woman Runs A Mile In 5mins
The video of nine months pregnant Makenna Myler from Utah powering through laps around a track went viral in October. In the video, she finished running a mile in 5.25 minutes. She has been running five to six times a week throughout her pregnancy. “Feeling capable is everything to me. Running has been a big outlet for me in that way. Running during pregnancy has been a beautiful process of accepting effort and patience, not forcing anything, and letting go of pace and forced mileage,” she told Buzzfeed.
The Unbeatable Peres Jepchirchir
Who can beat the brilliant Peres Jepchirchir? Peres Jepchirchir herself. The Kenyan beat her own world record by 18 seconds and finished the women’s half marathon in one hour, five minutes and 16 seconds to bag gold at the World Athletics Half Marathon Championships in Gdynia (Poland). “It’s unbelievable. My goal was to win this race. I did not expect that I would beat the world record, but I realised that it could happen when we passed 20km… It’s a gift to all the Kenyans, to my family,” she told World Athletics.
Kenya's Peres Jepchirchir wins in a women-only world record of 1:05:16!
— World Athletics (@WorldAthletics) October 17, 2020
London Marathon In The Time Of Pandemic
The 40th London Marathon that was held on October 4 lived up to its description of being the “strangest” and “most unpredictable ever”. Ethiopian Shura Kitata dethroned reigning king Eliud Kipchoge with a spectacular finish in 2:05:41. Brigid Kosgei from Kenya won the elite women’s race clocking in 2:18:58. Around 45,000 non-elite runners took part remotely. Keeping with traditions, there were some runners in fancy dress – a rhino costume or a giant cake. At 87, Ken Jones, who finished the marathon in 07:53:34, said he would run again next year. Event director Hugh Brasher described the 40th race as “a beacon of light in the darkness”.
She's on another level. 👏👏
— Virgin Money London Marathon (@LondonMarathon) October 4, 2020
First Athlete With Down Syndrome To Finish Ironman Triathlon
Chris Nikic, a 21-year-old from Florida, became the first person with Down syndrome to finish an Ironman. The official Ironman account had tweeted, “You swam 2.4 miles, biked 112 miles and ran 26.2 miles and now you get to brag for the rest of your life.” “I can prove to kids that if I can do it, then they can do it too,” he told NBC.
“I was born a Down syndrome Kid. Next morning I woke up as an IRONMAN.”
Hear more from Chris Nikic as he celebrated his accomplishment with family and friends over the weekend.
#anythingispossible #inclusion #onepercentbetter #ironmanfinisher pic.twitter.com/xsUJfVFaAD
— IRONMAN Triathlon (@IRONMANtri) November 16, 2020
Track Athlete Allyson Felix In Time’s 100 Most Influential People Of 2020 List
Olympic sprinter Allyson Felix made it to the Time Magazine’s Most Influential People of 2020 list for being instrumental in changing maternity and pregnancy policies for athletes. The Olympic gold medallist and world champion had called out Nike, her former sponsor, for threatening to pay her less after she gave birth to her daughter in 2018. Thanks to her relentless fight to end pregnancy discrimination and advance maternity rights, Nike updated its maternity policies.
— TIME (@TIME) September 23, 2020