Keeping all the balls in the air is no trouble for one Island runner.
Michael Bergeron recently set a world record for 5,000 metre joggling – juggling and running at the same time.
In July, Bergeron competed in the virtual World Joggling Championship by videoing his run in Wellington at Ecole Evangeline’s track.
It was his third attempt to break the world record.
“I had a goal in mind, I wanted to break 16:51,” he said.
He did it, finishing just a few hundredths faster than 16:50.
That means he ran each kilometre in three and a half minutes – all while juggling.
“I asked a few of my friends and my wife to follow me on a bike to be able to get video evidence, which (was) a requirement to prove that I actually did it,” he said.
The 31-year-old has been running competitively since he was 13, competing in track and field and cross-country running events throughout high school and spending four years on the University of Ottawa’s running team.
In 2014, after a four-year break, Bergeron added juggling to his runs.
“It made it more fun.”
He had just returned from deployment with the Canadian navy and was looking to get back in shape as well as lose 30 pounds gained while living on board a ship with little room for training.
At first, even a one-kilometre joggle was challenging.
“I kept dropping and turning back,” he said.
But soon enough he hit his stride.
“Now it’s super-natural. I can juggle for three hours straight and it’s fine,” he said. “The thing with joggling is, when you go for a run and you juggle, you need to keep the same rhythm the entire time if you go too fast, too slow, your hand and eye co-ordination will get disbalanced and you have a good risk of losing your ball or dropping one. “
Getting any faster will be tricky now.
“Trying to run super-fast while juggling – my arms don’t go as fast as my legs,” he said. “I’m not sure how much faster I can improve those times.”
His record-setting 5K was just the latest personal best. He holds the 10,000-metre (10K) record for joggling as well as the Guinness Book of World Records for the joggling half-marathon.
Next, Bergeron would like to earn the Guinness record for his 10K time. His previous attempt was intended for the big book of records, but the record-keeping fell a bit short.
“I was really disappointed when I broke the 10K. It was my first record, and I was super excited,” he said.
He submitted all the paperwork, but six months later he was told he was missing one piece.
“I read all the rules and thought I followed all the directions, but I was missing one part, so I’m in better shape than I was when I broke that record and I’d like to try it again, while I’m still young and in shape.”
As soon as the track at UPEI is open, Bergeron is planning to tackle goal.
“If and when it opens, I’m planning to get a bunch of the top runners in the province to come support me and run beside me while I joggle. I have the world record right now, but I’m trying to do it again, faster than my time, but also get it certified by Guinness.”
Alison Jenkins is a local journalism initiative reporter, a position funded by the federal government, working in Prince County.